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Kurtág Piano Duet Commissioning Project

The Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo commissions ten composers in honor of György Kurtág's 90th year

Overview

There is no other living composer so intimately and profoundly connected to the medium of the piano duo as György Kurtág. His own performances with his wife, pianist Márta Kurtág, has led to the creation of over 50 pieces for piano, four-hands and two pianos. Most of these are either original miniatures within his long-term cycle of pianistic Games (Játékok), or highly imaginative transcriptions of the music of Machaut, Purcell, Frescobaldi, Lasso, Schütz and J.S. Bach.

In February 2016, Kurtág turned 90 years old. Throughout this anniversary year, the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo will present numerous concerts dedicated to his extraordinary music. The Duo has achieved international acclaim for their innovative performance and recording projects of the music of Conlon Nancarrow, Igor Stravinsky, John Cage and, now, Kurtág. The Duo has been devoted to performing cutting-edge contemporary music since 1995 and they have been playing Kurtág’s music since their very first concert. Their long relationship with this astounding piano music has culminated in their recently released CD of Kurtág’s complete original works for piano duet and two pianos (Wergo, 2015).

The Duo’s homage will be enhanced by a special commissioning project—ten highly esteemed composers, from different generations and countries, will contribute new pieces to a series of Microludes in the spirit of Kurtág’s Játékok. Scored for one piano, four hands, this aesthetically diverse collection will be performed in combination with Kurtág’s music at dozens of international venues.

The two celebrated American composers to be commissioned for the project are Jason Eckardt and Marcos Balter. The other composers are Georg Friedrich Haas, Peter Eötvos, Philippe Manoury, Katharina Rosenberger, Roland Moser, Carola Bauckholt, Caspar Johannes Walter and Klas Torstensson. Despite their extensive catalogues, not one of these composers has yet written a piece for piano duet. In this sense, the project is groundbreaking as an important contribution to the contemporary repertoire for the medium. Each of the new Microludes will be approximately 3-minutes long, creating a 30-minute series of new works that explore the magnificent sonic and dramatic possibilities of the piano duet.

Marcos and Jason were chosen for this project for their compelling and unique compositional voices. Praised as “brilliant” (New York Times) and “emotionally resonating” (Los Angeles Times), Jason’s music combines richly complex surfaces with striking structural clarity, yielding works that are at once visceral and intellectually rigorous. He also “has a knack for defying expectations” (New York Times). Praised by The Chicago Tribune as “minutely crafted” and “utterly lovely,” the music of Marcos Balter is primarily rooted in experimental manipulations of timbre and hyper-dramatization of live performance, which can often bring in elements of humor and theatricality. His wonderfully original music “evolves slowly, creating vivid emotional contexts and inviting the listener to savor sounds.” (Washington Post)

The new series of Microludes will be completed in fall 2016, with premieres planned in Stuttgart, Budapest, Paris, Basel, and throughout the US. The series will also be recorded in 2017.

Project Media

Echoes’ White Veil for solo piano by Jason Eckardt
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Features: Jason Eckardt

Live performance of a solo piano piece by Jason Eckardt (performed by Jason Hardink), representative of the new piece he will write for the project.

*** for solo piano by Marcos Balter
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Features: Marcos Balter

Live performance of a solo piano piece by Marcos Balter (performed by David Kaplan), representative of the new piece he will write for the project.

Hommage to Halmagyi Mihaly for piano duet by György Kurtág
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Sample of the Bugallo-Williams Piano Duo playing one of Kurtág’s “Games” for one piano, four hands (Wergo, 2015)

Start and End Dates

09/01/201606/01/2017

Location

New York, New York

Project Created By

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

In Collaboration With

performer
composer
Kerhonkson, New York
composer
Chicago, Illinois

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