Hommage á R. Sch.

for viola, piano, clarinet
By György Kurtág

Kurtág’s small output (fewer than 40 opus numbers) is characterized by small forms. emphasizes a restrained rhetoric of aphorism and silence, and often involves structured collections of fragments. Hommage á R. Sch. (1990) is typical in this regard, exhibiting a tremendous economy of means over the course of its 9-minute length.

The six movements are indicated:
I vivo
II molto semplice piano e legato
III feroce, agitato
IV calmo, scorrevole
V In der Nacht presto
VI Abschied adagio, poco andante

Homages occur frequently in Kurtág’s work, though more often are tributes to colleagues and friends. This piece abounds with subtle allusions to various works, and with almost dream-like evocations of Schumann’s style. Interestingly, the piece also contains a second composer-reference; the sixth movement bears the subtitle “Meister Raro entdeckt Guillaume de Machaut.” (‘Meister Raro discovers Guillaume de Machaut.’) Perhaps this should not surprise us; any homage to Schumann by definition incorporates nested references to Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and back even further, on and on down time.

- Douglas Boyce

Other works by György Kurtág:
“Make music of everthing.”
--Georges Aperghis