If cogwheels are humans - György Ligeti´s Piano Concerto

A Film by Uli Aumüller and Hanne Kaisik

Portrait of György Ligeti and his piano concerto -

Ensemble Intercontemporain
Pierre Boulez, Conductor

The focal point of our musical documentary is the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (composed 1985-88) by György Ligeti, interpreted by the Parisian ensemble intercontemporain, conducted by Pierre Boulez. Pierre-Laurent Aimard is the soloist.
The five movements of the 22 minute piece are evenly distributed over the length of the 60-minute film. Each movement is filmed with a distinct cinematic and aesthetic approach attuned to the character of the composition. In brief:
Simultaneity of several speeds, the so-called Talea technique in the first movement;
"static" micro-polyphony in the second movement;
Pulsating and illusionistic "African" rhythm in the third movement;
"Kaleidoscope pieces" and chaos theory in the 4th movement; and
radiant "Hyper -major" in the 5th movement.
The cinematic realisation of every movement has a characteristically different style.
The proper "documentary" passages before and between the movements of the Piano Concerto form a portrait of György Ligeti, focussing primarily on the interrelation between his work and his biography. At the same time, these passages are a narrative thread that introduces the respective ideas behind the individual movements of the Piano Concerto. In the film, Ligeti meets people who have decisively influenced him during the long-lasting genesis of the concerto, among others African music ethnologist Simha Arom, composer and conductor Pierre Boulez and pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Furthermore, Ligeti allows us an insight into his sketch-books and handwritten notes: score pages painted criss-cross with crayons, marking different time grids or rhythmical levels into which he "hangs" his melodic and harmonic material (a method not dissimilar to that of Nancarrow, one of his influences).
Some parts of the recording of the Piano Concerto are edited very fast and very "musically", emphasising its artistic quality, the documentary sequences tend to be slower and concentrate on the life and person of György Ligeti.

German manuscript

German Transcript Interviews

German Radio BR

Cast & Crew

Hanne Kaisik
Uli Aumüller