Rescued from Obscurity

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The Naomi Lewin Theory of Obscure Music says that obscure music is usually obscure for a good reason. But every once in a while, a piece comes along that disproves the theory. This week, the New York Philharmonic is playing one of them: Gyorgy Ligeti’s Concert Românesc – his Romanian Concerto.

If you think you know Ligeti – whether from the concert hall, or from 2001: A Space Odyssey – you’re in for a surprise, and a treat. Like Georges Enesco’s Romanian Rhapsody #1, the Concert Românesc is based on regional folk music. Think Bartok’s Romanian Dances on steroids, and you’ve got Ligeti's wonderful, wild, and wooly treck through Transylvanian tunes, including a terrific gypsy fiddle solo for the concertmaster.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many recordings of the Concert Românesc, and I don’t remember seeing it on a concert program until last fall, when I lucked into a performance by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra in Munich. It was love at first hearing, and you better believe I’ll be there to hear it again in Avery Fischer Hall on Thursday night.

I’m always thrilled to find a piece that blows my theory of obscure music out of the water. I’d love to hear about your discoveries. Please leave a comment below: