Moment's Notice Trio – László Gőz, György Kurtág Jr., Miklós Lukács Creation
(...) For the listener it is of secondary importance whether the CD by Moment’s Notice Trio contains material from the concert of 20 October 2017, where every note came into being in the given moment, without any pre-planning. The electronic sounds were created by György Kurtág Jr., and the trombonist László Gőz and the cimbalomist Miklós Lukács went onto the concert platform of the Solti Hall in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (Budapest) without having agreed anything in advance. They went on stage in the same way in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Warsaw, Beijing, Belgrade, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, all the places the trio has visited since it was formed in 2015...
László Gőz – trombone, bass trumpet, ocarina, seashells
György Kurtág Jr. – keyboards, electronics
Miklós Lukács – cimbalom
About the album
All tracks are collective improvisations
Recorded live in the Solti Hall of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music on 20 October, 2017
The recording was made by the AVISO Studios of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music, Budapest
Recording engineer: Kálmán Melha
Visual programming: Ágoston Nagy, Bence Samu (binaura.net)
Live visualisation: Szabolcs Keresteš
Mixed and mastered by Péter Erdélyi at Studio E4S, Piliscsaba
Artwork: László Huszár / Greenroom
Produced by László Gőz
Label manager: Tamás Bognár
Moment's Notice Trio – László Gőz, György Kurtág Jr., Miklós Lukács: Creation
The album is available in digital form at our retail partners
“The first power to come into being was Chaos. Then arose Gaia, / broad-bosomed earth, which serves as the ever-immovable base for all.” This is how, in the 8th century BCE, the Greek poet Hesiod described the first phase of the creation of the world. In a similar manner, the biblical creation story also begins with emptiness: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. / And the earth was without form, and void: and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Chaos, the void without form, is thus the starting point for every act of creation. In the biblical narrative, creation began with the shaping of the heaven and the earth, then God said “Let there be light: and there was light.” Following this, God instilled order into the world by drawing distinctions between things: he separated the light from the dark, the heaven from the earth, the water from dry land, the day from the night, thus finally arriving at the distinction between man and woman, then between good and evil in the Fall.
As to whether God was improvising during the Creation, or following a pre-planned schedule, that question can be left for theologians to ponder, but in terms of the end result it is of little consequence. What counts is what was created, not how. Generally speaking, the same is true of music: from the listener’s point of view it is irrelevant whether what we hear is the result of prolonged compositional work, or springs from the magic of the moment. The creation story unfolds again every time music is made: from nothing, from disordered emptiness, sounds take shape; rhythm marks out defined durations from eternity, and chaos is filled with life and meaning.
For the listener it is of secondary importance whether the CD by Moment’s Notice Trio contains material from the concert of 20 October 2017, where every note came into being in the given moment, without any pre-planning. The electronic sounds were created by György Kurtág Jr., and the trombonist László Gőz and the cimbalomist Miklós Lukács went onto the concert platform of the Solti Hall in the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music (Budapest) without having agreed anything in advance. They went on stage in the same way in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Warsaw, Beijing, Belgrade, St. Petersburg, and Moscow, all the places the trio has visited since it was formed in 2015.
The music at the Liszt Academy concert, a good hour’s-worth, can be clearly divided into seven parts, and if we believed in coincidence, we might say that the number seven cropped up by accident. But who believes in coincidence, especially in connection with music, and particularly music created by musicians as aware as these are? That evening, it was as if the seven-day creation story unfolded anew.
Only one pre-organized piece of music was heard in that concert, one that comes in the first minute of the CD: the beginning of Viatrone, Victor Máté’s piece from 1981 for trombone and electronics, began the concert; this is the primeval chaos music generated from the trombone notes, which takes shape but gradually. The trio then leaves Victor Máté’s piece, and from the churning chaos after the big bang a metallic sound develops, the trombone plays motifs lacking in contour, while the cimbalom seems to want to give birth to harmonies, but is as yet uncertain and unpredictable. After a good ten minutes of churning, the music appears to settle (the chamber-music quality of the end of the first piece is astounding: how daring are the three musicians in their use of silence, how clearly they sense the duration of a section of musical form). Then a rattling sound is heard (at the beginning of the second part), and here we hear the first true melody: under the broad gestures of the trombone melody with supporting electronic effects the rattling becomes tenser, the cimbalom joins in, and begins an intense dialogue with the trombone.
The electronic sounds generated by György Kurtág Jr. give the framework for the music – or if we will, the basis – as if, sensitively reflecting his fellow musicians, he were constructing the form which two instruments dissimilar in sound and character, the cimbalom and the trombone, then proceed to fill with material.
The difference in character is also due to the personalities of the performers. Miklós Lukács’s playing is imbued with frantic energy, which he is able to keep in check with dazzling mastery (a perfect example of this is track 5, where you keep expecting the cimbalom to explode, but this – fortunately – does not come to pass). László Gőz’s trombone playing, however, exudes a captivating calm, and even in the wildest of moments maintains its dignity. The personality of György Kurtág Jr. is partially concealed by the electronic sounds, and in all likelihood this is why Moment’s Notice Trio works perfectly: the three musicians complement one another not just musically, but also as people.
Of course, whether we listen to the music as some kind of story (a musical re-imagining of the creation story, for instance), or as the dialogue of three sensitive people, is entirely up to us. And who is to say it is a good idea to try and verbalize and rationalize the musical events heard on this CD? After all, for an attentive listener (spoiler alert: this music doesn’t work as background music) this CD works perfectly well as abstract music, a succession of sounds and forms. In fact, perhaps this is the only way it works.
The trio was formed in 2015 at the instigation of the Chelsea Music Festival, although originally György Kurtág Jr. and László Gőz were to have been joined by Barre Phillips, a legendary bassist, and one of the most influential figures in improvisatory music in recent decades. Phillips couldn’t take part in the concert due to illness, and his place was taken by Miklós Lukács; the line-up hasn’t changed since.
But Barre Phillips is a basic point of reference for all three musicians, and it is probably his words that best illustrate what is going on in the music of the Moment’s Notice Trio. In an interview about improvisation in 2011, Phillips said: “I had the ability as a kid to space out in the sound world, to lose perspective of where I am. You know, when kids are spaced out and we say, ‘Yoo hoo, where are you, you’ve gone someplace else’. I was like that with sound. The musical experience is to create a space in the acoustic space where we are together, we’re playing and you’re listening, where we can all get into this mode, which is a mood, or a psychological state where everything is happening through the ears. To me, there’s no more blah blah blah intellectual part. The nervous system is at rest. It’s just the hearing consciousness.”
Translated by Richard Robinson
SOUND REACTIVE VISUALS
The realtime sound responsive visualization for the live concerts was made by Binaura (Ágoston Nagy, Bence Samu). Since each instrument had different visual characteristics, by the advancing of the sounds, a complex, dynamic, three dimensional sculpture was shaped together. Apart from adding elements to the sculpture, the wind instruments got an extra feature: when they were played, the camera of the whole scene is moved around (based on its intensity), so the composition was set in motion.
Since the musical material was full improvisation, Binaura had to define a parameter space, where the system could run fully automated if needed, everything is controlled by the sounds and the built in behaviours, but they also had to leave some space for intervention for the visual performer (Szabolcs Kerestes): adding or removing elements could be smoothly adjusted from a custom built user interface, where he could select the desired visual shapes along the color palettes assembled for the set.
The tone of the sounds also had a special importance. The group recorded different sound types for each instrument during the rehearsals, then trained them for the system to recognize, using machine learning algorithms. At the end, the system was trying to predict which tone the musician was playing at the moment, and it selected corresponding visual set of shapes, based on the predicted class. Noisy, cracking sounds produced different visuals compared to clean, harmonic ones in the scene.