Friday, July 11, 2014

CCC 108 - György Orbán

This installment of the Consonant Classical Challenge features Romanian composer György Orbán. Orbán emigrated to Hungary in 1979, and became a professor of composition at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. Orbán's music draws on renaissance and baroque traditions -- especially in his use of counterpoint and polyphony. At the same time, Orbán doesn't mind borrowing a little from jazz. The result is music that is tonally based and immediately accessible to the audience, while still expressing the composer's individuality in a compelling fashion.

Serenade No. 4 shows Orbán's gift for melody. To my ears, it seems to share the turns of phrase that  I hear in Janacek, Smetana, and Enescu. The playful syncopated rhythms, though, are a distinctively Orbán characteristic.

The Agnus Dei from the "Missa Quinta" demonstrates Orbán's contrapuntal mastery. The simple, diatonic melody is folded back on itself, creating an intricate, yet transparent aural tapestry. One can easily follow each individual voice, while hearing the harmonic motion generated by the layered melodic lines.

Orbán's love of jazz can be clearly heard in this movement from his sonata for bassoon and piano. The piano's bluesy interlude would not be out of place in a smokey jazz club. And those jazz elements help infuse the music with a sense of playfulness and good humor.

The Pana Lingua features a distinctively Eastern European-sounding melody, treated in an imaginative fashion.

György Orbán is best known for his choral works. They turn up with some regularity in choral concerts not only in Europe but in this country as well. I, for one, wish his instrumental works enjoyed the same popularity. They're well-constructed compositions with a distinctive sound, with an immediate appeal even for the casual listener. For an ensemble interested in expanding their audience, the music György Orbán seems like a natural choice to me.

Recommended Recordings

Daemon Irrepit Callidus (Composed By György Orbán)

Hungarian Piano Music

Sacred Repertoire for Male Choir

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