György Ligeti

Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel

Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedüvel
based on poems by Sándor Weöres for mezzo soprano and 4 percussionists
Vocal Music
Gesang und Instrumentalensemble
Language of this work
(With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles)
Number of performers
trgl. · crot. · 1 pair of cymbals (high) · cymb. or saucepan · 2 s.c. (high/low) · t.-t. or gong (as low as possible) · cowb. (muffled) · low cowb. · Jp.bell (high) · Jp. temple bell (tuned) · Burmese gongs (tuned) or tbells. · 4 various field drums · 2 rototoms (high) · bong. or cga. (tuned) · 3 bong. · tamb. · 2 tom. (one of them low without resonance) · log drum · 2 various wooden dr. · wooden dr. (low) or slit dr. · 2 b.dr. (middle/low) · 4 temple bl. · · sand bl. · clav. · cast. · Japanese wooden rattle · sistrum · chimes (without pitch) · mar. · ratch. · guiro · vibra slap · slapst. (low) · 2 slide whistles · train whistle (or whistle) · 2 mouth sirens · 2 police whistles (quite high/preferably high) · metal whistle · sopranino ocarina · 2 soprano ocarinas · 3 various sheperd's fl. · 4 chromatic harmonicas · lion's roar · 2 flex. · glock. · xyl. · vibr. · 2 mba. · bmba.
Composition year(s)
World premiere
Metz · Arsenal · Amadinda Percussion Ensemble · Katalin Károlyi, mezzo soprano
I Fabula (Fable)
II Táncdal (Dancing Song)
III Kínai templom (Chinese Temple)
IV Kuli (Coolie)
V Alma álma (Dream)
VI Keserédes (Bitter-sweet)
VII Szajkó (Magpie)
Extra title
(With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles / Mit Pfeifen, Trommeln, Schilfgeigen)
Commande de la ville de Metz

György Ligeti: The Ligeti Project © 2016 Warner Classics 0825646028580

Comment of the composer on the work

Síppal, dobbal, nádihegedűvel (With Pipes, Drums, Fiddles), composed in 2000, is a cycle of seven Hungarian songs for low mezzo-soprano and four percussionists, whose diverse instrumentarium includes non-percussive instruments such as slide whistles and chromatic harmonicas.

As so often in my life, I set poems of the great twentieth-century Hungarian poet Sándor Weöres. He was a unique virtuoso of the Hungarian language and his poetic subjects are sometimes trivial or obscene, occasionally sarcastic or humorous, tragic or desperate, and even include artificial myths and legends. Some of his works are large-scale frescoes, which are worlds within themselves. It is, however, to the countless, equally profound and playful short poems that I have always turned for my composition.

In the first song, Fabula (Fable), a pack of wolves shudder with fear as two mountains approach each other, crushing them without pity. The text of Táncdal (Dance Song) may sound meaningful, but actually the words are imaginary, having only rhythm and no meaning. In Kínai templom (Chinese Temple) Weöres succeeds in conveying the contentment of the Buddhist view of life by using only monosyllabic Hungarian words. Kuli (Coolie) is a poetic portrayal of an Asian pariah’s monotonous hopelessness and pent-up aggressiveness. In Alma álma (Dream) I have embedded the voice into the sound of four harmonicas, creating a strange, surreal atmosphere. The poem describes how the branches of an apple tree gently sway in the wind and an apple dreams of journeys in distant, enchanted lands. Keserédes (Bittersweet) is like a “fake” Hungarian folk song. I sought to express this rift by combining artificial folk music with a pop-like melody and an artificially sweetened accompaniment. Even if the text of Szajkó (Parakeet) does have a meaning, the poem is in effect a nonsensical play on words, but one which produces a rhythmic swing.

The title of this cycle is not from Weöres: it is a line from a Hungarian children's verse (a kind of counting rhyme), which dates from the time of the Turkish occupation of Hungary.

© 2001–2003 Teldec Classics & 2004 Warner Classics, Warner Music UK Ltd | Translation: Louise Duchesneau