Compilation from Messages for Orchestra, op. 34 and New Messages for Orchestra, op. 34/a

Progress Report – a word with Zoltán Jeney (1993)
Shadows (for Elmar Weingarten, 2000)
Merran's dream – Caliban detecting-rebuilding Mirranda's dream (string-orchestra version, 1998)
…a solemn air… – Hommage ŕ Albert Simon 70 (1996)
Letter to Peter Eötvös (1994)


With Stele, commissioned by Claudio Abbado and the Berlin Philharmonic, the ice was broken, and Kurtág began to compose for large orchestra. Concurrently with that work and immediately following it, the composer adopted his favourite genre of miniatures to the orchestral medium. As so often before, the composer was inspired by his human contacts – yet the new piees were not memorials but rather musical %u201Cletters” addressed to friends and colleagues. True, Kurtág incorporated in his op. 34 the %u201CInscription on a Grave in Cornwall,” originally part of the Requiem of Reconciliation, a joint project involving thirteen composers and commissioned by Helmuth Rilling. Op. 34 is complete with this work and the movements addressed to Peter Eötvös, Alfred Schlee, Albert Simon and Zoltán Jeney; New Messages, op. 34, however, begun in 1998, is still a work in progress. Four of them were premiered by Zoltán Peskó and the Berlin Philharmonic in 2000.

 

Every single note in these short works contains an important %u201Cmessage.” Besides pitch and rhythm, tone color and the way of playing are also decisive. Each note may become the starting point of seemingly endless chains of association, pointing beyond itself to evoke feelings and memories we may all share; not all of these sensations, of course, may be put into words. We enter the elusive territory of %u201Cshadows” and %u201Cdreams”; that is what Kurtág seems to be %u201Cconversing” about with his Hungarian fellow musicians Jeney, Simon and Eötvös (alas, a solemn air has since become an in memoriam), or with new friends made abroad, such as Elmar Weingarten, former Intendant of the Berlin Philharmonic, or the Australian Merran Joy Poplar who used to teach the Alexander technique to musicians in Holland. (The latter also appears as the dedicatee of the last movement in Kurtág's Beckett cycle, …pas ŕ pas – nulle part…, op. 36.) Kurtág associated the name Merran with Miranda from Shakespeare's Tempest. He playfully spelled the name of that character with two r's to underscore the similarity, and imagined how Caliban the savage would %u201Cdetect” and %u201Crebuild” the young girl's dream.