György Ligeti: Trio for Violin, Horn and Piano

"The second half of the Pop Up concert consisted of Ligety’s 1982 Trio for horn, violin and piano, often called the “Homage to Brahms.” Kigawa and Choi are Either/Or colleagues and work together on a regular basis; Drehmann is an independent musician. The three together played together as a coherent, fluently collaborative trio, subtly attuned to each other’s pacing and breathing; their mutual alertness to the spaces between sounds and silence on each other’s instruments was crucial to the success of this performance, as Ligeti’s score makes complex demands on all three instruments, especially the horn.

Ligeti’s Trio makes explicit reference to the historical musical past: it expresses gratitude to the insights of Romanticism, even as it negotiates modern stresses by means of vocabularies as diverse as jazzy cynicism and near symphonic anguish. At various moments during the trio, two instruments engage in dialogue while the third maintains a muted, constant presence; at other times, all three are engaged in musical interconnections involving several rhythmic and melodic subjects at once.

In the hands of less virtuosic musicians, Ligeti’s material can spin out of control. Kigawa, Choi and Drehmann, however, from the very opening, invited the audience into an experience of listening based on complete trust. The work’s elegant, almost wistful conclusion – a distillation of harmonic lines into quiet, unresolved ambiguities – was compelling.

This Trio, a familiar piece of the complex Ligeti repertoire, was beautifully presented by Kigawa, Choi and Drehmann, and the Pop Up concert audience was appropriately pleased.

For audiences who want more of Ligeti’s piano etudes, Kigawa will provide another opportunity: on May 16, at the Poisson Rouge here in New York City, he will perform all eighteen. All in all, this was a wonderful presentation of demanding music by marvelous musicians." - Jean Ballard Terepka,