for violoncello and orchestra
Orchestra with Soloist(s)
mit Violoncello
Number of performers
1 (also pic.) · 1 (also ca.) · 2 (2nd also bcl.) · 1 - 1 · 1 · 1 · 0 - hp. - str. (8 · 7 · 6 · 5 · 4 or soloistic 1 · 1 · 1 · 1 · 1)
Composition year(s)
World premiere
Berlin · Siegfried Palm, cello · Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin · conductor: Henryk Czyz
Dedicated to Siegfried Palm

György Ligeti: The Ligeti Project © 2016 Warner Classics 0825646028580

Comment of the composer on the work

The Cello Concerto dates from the second half of the sixties, although its two movements derive stylistically from compositions from the first half of that decade. The slow first movement belongs to the Atmosphères type, its form is static, continuous and without rhythm. The contrasting second movement is dynamic, abrupt, at times hectic, and is related to Aventures. The musical language is chromatic but not dodecaphonic (this applies to all my works of the sixties). The first movement consists of a single tense arch with a clear climax at the point where the solo cello suddenly begins playing high harmonics. This passage has the effect of a tear: the bow is tightened until it can no longer withstand the strain. Here the abstract musical form represents a nearly concrete material state. The second movement is like a collage: the episodes, “glued” to one another, build a sequence charged with tension — this series is neither determined nor chaotic, but rather semi-ordered. While some episodes seem to follow a logical order, others don't seem to be connected to each other at all. This movement ends with a virtuoso "whispering cadenza": the solo cello makes noise-like sounds in its transition from arco to pizzicato. Near the end, before the music dissolves into silence, the pizzicati are transformed into a fleeting touching of the strings.

The piece is scored for chamber orchestra: one flute (doubling piccolo), one oboe (doubling cor anglais), one bassoon, one horn, one trumpet, one trombone, one harp and two clarinets (the second doubling bass clarinet), as well as five strings.

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