Friday, September 20, 2013

CCC 087 Kamilló Lendvay

What we sometimes forget is that our musical tastes -- both individually and collectively -- evolve over time. The purpose of the Consonant Classical Challenge is to showcase living composers who are writing tonal music. But the concept of "tonality" in the 21st Century is quite removed from what 18th Century composers (and audiences) would understand.

In a way, this week's subject, Hungarian composer Kamilló Lendvay illustrates that point. Stylistically, Lendvay's music shares similarities with that of Bela Bartok and Igor Stravinsky. And while the music of those two composers was considered shocking when first premiered, many of their works have since entered the standard repertoire and been accepted by audiences. And we accept works like Bartok's "Concerto for Orchestra" and Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" as being basically tonal, even if some of the chords get a little thorny.

Kamilló Lendvay shares Bartok's musical heritage, and it's easy to hear the influences in his work. The Concertino for Piano, Winds, and Harp has exciting, driving rhythms and complex tone clusters that reminds me of Bartok's "Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta." Lendway's work is wholly original, of course, but the common background is there.

Lendvay's chamber works offer additional insights into the composer's style. With minimal resources, he still manages to compose engaging, robust music that's full of energy. The "Five Movements for Brass Trio" is short, to-the-point, and just fun to listen to (I think).

Lendvay has been involved with the singing, conducting, and composing of choral works since he was a young man. His "Requiem" shows his understanding and mastery of choral technique and composition.


Kamilló Lendvay writes that he wants his works to display "stable form, clear structure, and authentic content". In that, I think he succeeds. For orchestras and audiences that consider Bartok and Stravinsky modern and daring, Lendvay should provide some welcome variety. And even for those who are comfortable with contemporary music, Lendvay's compositions still offer much to enjoy. After all, authentic content is timeless in its appeal.

Recommended Recordings

Orchestral Works

Music for Winds and Percussion

California Polytechnic State University Wind Ensemble Live! In the Walt Disney Concert Hall

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