LEBRECHT LISTENS | Ligeti Floats Like Butterflies With Danish National Vocal Ensemble

By Norman Lebrecht on March 18, 2022

Photo courtesy of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble
Photo courtesy of the Danish National Vocal Ensemble

Ligeti and Kodaly: Lux Aeterna (OUR Recordings)


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One should never let too much time pass without hearing some Ligeti. The Hungarian has such an ethereal turn of the ear that any chorus he writes becomes instantly disembodied, the human voices floating like butterflies at the edge of consciousness.

He is best known for Lux Aeterna, which Staley Kubrick purloined for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. It receives an exemplary liftoff here from the Danish National Vocal Ensemble (conductor Marcus Creed), opening up uncharted worlds of imagination. Other Ligeti songs, some folk-based, others atonal, are delivered with comparable immersion in a soundworld like no other.

The fillers on the disc are by Zoltan Kodaly, a Hungarian folklorist and pedagogue. They sound almost absurdly naïve beside Ligeti’s untrammelled ideas, but they do help bring us back to earth.

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