Professor Eric Huebner’s new Album, Désordre, documents his long-standing commitment to the music of Hungarian Composer György Ligeti. The album, recently released by New Focus Recordings and underwritten by the Classical Recording Foundation, is a tour de force of astounding technical prowess and brilliant musical insight. It features Ligeti’s first two books of piano etudes, along with his Horn Trio.
Professor Huebner’s first experiences with Ligeti’s piano music date back to his days as an undergraduate at Juilliard when, on the livingroom floor of their Inwood apartment, he and roommate Mason Bates would spend hours listening to the Airmard recordings of the Etudes. Huebner was immediately captivated: “The music was hard to believe, especially the first etude, Désordre. How had Ligeti come up with that? How was Aimard even playing it?...I thought, I have to try and learn one of the études…”
That was in 1997. Since then Huebner has not only learned all of the remaining etudes, but also performed Ligeti’s music extensively, most notably the piano concerto in 2006 at Carnegie Hall, and the complete etude set at the Pulitzer Gallery in St. Louis in 2016. In 2013 he recorded the Horn Trio, as featured on this album, with Slee Sinfonietta Colleagues Adam Unsworth and Yuki Numata Resnick.
Huebner’s first album, released in 2015, featured the music of Schumann, Carter, and Stravinsky, drawing on a range of interpretive styles. But on Désoredre, the focus is entirely on Ligeti. Huebner’s interpretation of “Fanfares” sounds refreshingly jazzy: it grooves in a way that is seldom heard, and much welcome, in this kind of music. Other tracks like “Der Zauberlehrling”, with its devilishly difficult passagework filled with lightning-fast repeated notes, display Heubner’s jaw-droppingly agile and rapid technique. (Also a worthy tribute to UB piano technician, Devin Zimmer).
Huebner says he is always thinking about new things to record. He hints that perhaps a compilation of works drawn from the freshman seminar course he teaches at UB, which focuses on the evolution and experimentation of piano music in the 20th century, may be coming next.
Désordre was recorded in Slee Hall, produced and mastered by Adam Abeshouse, and the technical engineer was Christopher Jacobs. You can listen, or purchase it in physical or digital format, on iTunes, BandCamp, Spotify, Amazon, and wherever albums are sold or distributed.
By EDGAR GIRTAIN
Published October 21, 2020