Loop: Ligeti's Inspiration & Legacy

About this project

LOOP is a celebration of the György Ligeti Sonata for Solo Viola. The piece was written between 1991 and 1994 and the album was released on October 4, 2022, ahead of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth. 

Each movement is dedicated to an important figure in Ligeti's life. The first, Hora lunga, and last, Chaconne chromatique, are dedicated to the magnificent violist Tabea Zimmerman. The second movement, Loop, was a gift to the publisher Alfred Schlee on the occasion of his 90th birthday. The third, Facsar, was written in memory of Ligeti's composition teacher Sándor Veress. The fourth, Prestissimo con sordino, is dedicated to Klaus Klein, a close friend of Ligeti. Klein was the cultural attaché to Gütersloh, Germany, the city that co-commissioned the sonata. The fifth movement, Lamento, was dedicated to Ligeti's long-time colleague Louise Duchesneau. 

Ligeti's musical language and approach to the viola in this piece is unique and personal. He uses microtonal inflections in the first movement and a great deal of chromaticism throughout the sonata. He calls for high positions on the C string and double stops with open strings which require acrobatic leaps in the left hand. The technical demands of the performer are substantial. Ligeti also pays homage to the music of the past. The whole sonata is organized loosely like a baroque suite. The first movement works like a fantasy, a meditation in a key, like the prelude of a dance suite. The second movement, despite the constantly changing meter, has the rhythmic dance quality of a gigue. The third movement is a passacaglia that, like its baroque predecessor, stays very faithful to the repeated melody for the first half of the movement. The fourth movement is a moto perpetuo, with hidden melodic fragments created by changing accents and bowings. The fifth movement is more enigmatic, and is related to the loure (a French baroque dance). To me, it sounds like an organ changing stops. It goes from full force to flautando to harmonics, living in the sound world created by each color. The last movement is a wild and thrilling Chaconne, with twelve minutes worth of music packed into three!

This album places Ligeti's monumental sonata as a bridge between the past and the future. I recognize the past with baroque movements paired with each sonata movement. These pairings complement and highlight the influences present in Ligeti’s sonata. In addition to the baroque movements, I commissioned companion pieces for each of the pairs, creating a triptych out of each Ligeti movement: past, present, and future. Loop is titled after the  second movement of the sonata but it is also a reference to the interconnected influences of artistic creation.

Critical acclaim:
Textura.org - "While the recording features no other instrument than Wollman's, never does the listener feel as if the music's wanting when her viola sound is so rich and her playing so compelling. Technical virtuosity is in abundant display, necessarily so when the eighteen parts demand from the performer a broad arsenal of viola techniques. To that end, the total range of sounds she coaxes from the instrument on LOOP verges on staggering." - Ron Schepper

The Whole Note - "Violist Rose Wollman’s ingenious concept is based on imaginative yet logical pairing of each of the six movements with a piece from the Baroque era and commissioning six contemporary composers to write a companion piece to the Ligeti/Baroque set. The result is remarkably insightful: pieces within each triptych segue beautifully, as if they had all been written at the same time. The companion pieces support and illuminate aspects of Ligeti’s movements, sometimes in unexpected ways." - Ivana Popovic

Click here for the full program, and follow the links to learn more about the composers:

Garth Knox - http://www.garthknox.org/

Alexander Mansour - https://www.alexmansourmusic.com/

Atar Arad - http://www.atararad.com/

Rose Wollman - www.rosewollman.com

Melia Watras - https://www.meliawatras.com/

Natalie Williams - https://www.natworksmusic.com/

 If you are interested in the baroque pieces, I have published them as a suite on www.vlatutti.com and you can find the suite here.