Just released: Kurtág's Signs, Games and Messages for flute

The new volume of Signs, Games and Messages by György Kurtág differs in some respect from the previous ones: It contains not only single solo and chamber music pieces for flute but also a substantial cycle that has remained hidden from the public for nearly twenty years: Scenes for solo flute, written in September 1997 and dedicated to Ádám Szokolay, which had its premiere in 2016 on the composer's 90th birthday. Each movement in the cycle reformulates familiar gestures of Kurtág's music: it develops pensive, impetuous, ethereal or playful characters.

Signs, Games and Messages are collections for solo instruments and small chamber ensembles. Each of the three words refers to an essential factor in Kurtág's music. Signs ties to the composer's study year in Paris as a young man, when he could not compose but merely put graphic signs on the paper. Games links with his nine-volume series for the piano with that title. Messages convey the very personal content of these works, in that these short pieces are actually diary-notes and missives to musicians and friends important to Kurtág: an epitaph for the Romanian composer Myriam Marbé or a jolly greeting to Pierre Boulez’ 90th birthday.

One of the jewels of the volume belongs to Kurtág’s preparations of his opera, Samuel Beckett: Fin de partie: Clov’s farewell song with the accompaniment of a single bass flute.

The collection - like similar collections for string and wind instruments - does not form a coherent cycle; the pieces can be played individually, or in various orders, or together with pieces from Signs, Games and Messages written for other instruments.