Miklós Lukács Cimbiosis Trio/Ligeti Ensemble

July 8, 2024

Responses to Ligeti
BMC CD 330

Hungary’s best-known exponent of the cimbalom or hammered dulcimer, Miklós Lukács is always looking for new ways in which to demonstrate his instrument’s versatility. Having already pushed the trapezoid chordophone past its history as a strictly folkloric instrument into Jazz and notated music, Lukács expands his reach much further here. Responses to Ligeti matches the cadenced impulses project by his Jazz trio with bassist György Orbán and drummer István Baló with the careful harmonies from the Ligeti Ensemble of French hornist János Benyus, flutist Orsolya Kaczander, clarinetist Csaba Klenyán, oboist Dániel Ella and bassoonist Bálint Mohai.

Their meeting point is György Ligeti’s “Ten Pieces for Wind Quintet” but the key word in the CD tile is response. That’s because the careful balance engendered by the harmonized horns is cross referenced with vibrations and pinpointed slaps from the cimbalom’s two sets of grouped strings, tolling drum beats and stretched arco or pizzicato pulses from the bassist. Reconstituted, the result is as much Lukács as Ligeti.

However, with the quintet’s affiliated textures constantly seeping around sounds from the trio, there’s never a strict demarcation between the improvised or notated parts of the 14-sequence performance. Certain tracks may have more of a Jazz feel due to Orbán’s guitar-like facility or the cimbalomist’s ability to replicate piano-like comping, but fealty to the composition isn’t neglected. A track like “Response” for instance confirms the subtle equivalence, with Lukács’ string plucks evolving without a tone out of place as lower-pitched reed glissandi create misty and crepuscule theme variations.

By the penultimate interludes of “VIII. Allegro con delicatezza – Response” and “Response – IX. Sostenuto, stridente – quasi coda” any sonic contradictions have been determined in such a fashion that on the first the wind quintet’s mewling stretches create the continuum, with subsequent hunting-horn-like blares and reed tongue stops resonating alongside metallic smacks from the drummer. By “Response – IX. Sostenuto, stridente – quasi coda” linear motion is solidified by both cymbal bounces and double bass strums as well as wispy shrills from the unison horns. After cimbalom vibrations create a contrapuntal response to the horn parts, a jolly sounding bassoon slur defines the ending.

Purists of any genre may not be convinced by this session, but open-minded listeners will appreciate the new instrumental paths forged here for the cimbalom and other instruments.

–Ken Waxman

Track Listing: 1. On the Light 2. I. Molto sostenuto e calmo 3. Response 4. II. Prestissimo minaccioso e burlesco – Response 5. III. Lento – with Cimbalompaper 6. IV. Prestissimo leggiero e viruoso 7. Response 8. V. Presto staccatissimo e leggiero – with Cimbalompaper 9. VI. Presto staccatissimo e leggiero 10. Interlude 11. VII. Vivo, energico – Response 12. VIII. Allegro con delicatezza – Response 13. Response – IX. Sostenuto, stridente – quasi coda 14. X. Presto bizzarro e rubato, so schnell wie möglich

Personnel: Cimbiosis Trio: Miklós Lukács (cimbalom); György Orbán (bass) and István Baló (drums) plus Ligeti Ensemble: Orsolya Kaczander (flute); Csaba Klenyán (clarinet); Dániel Ella (oboe); János Benyus (French horn) and Bálint Mohai (bassoon)