Ligeti: Le Grand Macabre / Salonen, Philharmonia Orch
György Ligeti's only opera, 'Le Grande Macabre,' after a play by Michel de Ghelderode, concerns itself with nothing less than the end of the world. This is promised by the evil Nekrotzar but, despite dire warnings and ominous foreshadowing, the whole thing is something of a bust and in the end the only casualty is Nekrotzar himself. In between are any number of lascivious and criminal goings-on in fictional Breughelland, a place of infinite corruption, socially, morally and politically (and enormously funny in the bargain). Ligeti's brilliant, delightful, infinitely difficult music ranges from preludes and interludes scored for automobile horns and doorbells to the breathtaking coloratura flights of Gepopo, the soprano chief of the secret police. The performance under Esa-Pekka Salonen is beyond praise.
Volume 8 of Sony's Ligeti Edition presents the revised score of 1997, taken from live performances in Paris. There are numerous changes and the opera is shorter by some ten minutes. The revision also changes the language from German to English. The German original is available on Wergo in a fine performance. The Sony recording preserves a performance of even greater brilliance of what is now one of the great comic operas in English.
Catalog Number: SONY62312
Composer: György Ligeti
Conductor: Esa-Pekka Salonen
Orchestra/Ensemble: London Sinfonietta Voices, Philharmonia Orchestra
Performer: Charlotte Hellekant, Derek Lee Ragin, Frode Olsen, Graham Clark, Jard Van Nes, Laura Claycomb, Marc Campbell-Griffiths, Martin Winkler, Michael Lessiter, Richard Suart, Sibylle Ehlert, Steven Cole, Willard White