The Concert

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Critique

The four movements present four different sounding characters. Each were given a programme by the composer, hence the names of the movements: I. Adolescence, II. Chaos, III. Love, IV. Self-confidence. The title Fantasy corresponds to a similar musical form: we can hear impromptu, informal sections full of frequently alternating thoughts. But this form is totally indirect. Instead of the teleological, progressive movement typical for classical music, we hear a calm, epic, prosaic narrative here in which there is no sense of purpose for a long time, yet – by the end of the movements at the latest – a sense of necessity develops. The same applies to the relationship of the four movements; they appear to be variations of each other rather than having the usual direct contrast.
Dramaturgy is considered to be the most important guiding principle, and the composer constantly, almost instructively, pays attention not to distract us from the smooth flow of the narrative.

In this work, the composer invented a brand new and unexpected musical language, or rather an attitude, a mode of sounding. This neotonal language is unique, yet archetypal, understandable to all, easy to embrace, and addresses its audience directly and naturally. It is unique in some basic musical features: new melodies that have been never heard before, harmonies that suggest romanticism but are inconsistent, orchestration that gives the illusion of a large orchestra sound with a chamber orchestra, and it is particularly unique in its narrative, in its telling of a musical story.

It's unique but not astonishingly new: many times I had the feeling that I know this language from somewhere. The late romanticism has a nearly identical sound and the neoclassics of the twentieth century, since Richard Strauss, the young Prokofiev, the French „Les Six” and among the more romantic German expressionists, Werner Egk used similar phrasing and instrumentation.

We could try to bring him to book about where music has come since then and why he isn't paying attention to present day, modern assumptions. But specifically because he didn't make an exercise in style, but redressed old content in old fashion style. We can't forget that the composer is not of the young generation, sounds from half a century ago are part of his experience. Gábor Király's main technical strength is horizontal organization, expanding on a musical phrase via repetition. He isn't writing a theme or an overarching melody, but short, almost hummable segments. He favors using a Mozartian, broken through method of composing, meaning one of his melodies would begin in one voice, continue in another that would be reflected on by a third. In essence this principle of movement creates the characteristics, nature of the measures. His melodies and melody fragments aren't carried by any system of harmonics.
The composer uses chords as tones, directly and trivially, only as tools to affect emotions. Sometimes directly in a showboating way for sure.

The music is a diatonic series of notes, often reduced to a pentatonic scale, which is chromatically coloured. Its tonal centres emerge almost randomly, from melodic directions, and are unencumbered by the dominating functional sensations of European music, hence the movements' particular, floating, mysteriously dreamy mood. This kind of monodic editing can easily get tired and boring. But then something changes, such as the middle ground of polyphony. There are always counters and imitations which enrich and saturate the leading melodies, but they never become complicated. Even in the simple factures, musical events are constantly happening, so that the formal parts do not become monotonous. When complexity increases, it always stops just before it would get so complex that the information would cancel each other out. Thanks to this, the piece is extremely economical.
Every event, every sound works, and enhances the experience.

Rhytmically speaking Király usually uses the simplest greek meters, except when suddenly unexpected rhytmic complexity appears in certain points of the piece. The simplicity of the rhytm is largely responsible for us feeling the music archetypical. The rhytmical simplicity is somewhat counterbalanced with the variety of musical tonal relationships.
We'd think that instrumentation is a rather independent variable while composing, but Gábor Király manages to discover something in this area too, something directly follows from the intimacy of his musical material: other than the horns he only uses one of each wind instrument. The wind instruments being treated as soloists create the intensity of a chamber orchestra, however, where needed a full scale tutti sound is created. About the relationship between the soloist and the orchestra: first we could consider Four Fantasies to be a violin concerto where the soloist is playing continuously, we often find cadence-like sequences where the violin is left alone. Really, the soloist is a compositional tool in Gábor Király's hands.

The piece doesn't have the dramaturgy of a concerto, rather, the body of the orchestra extends from the melos of the solo violin, in this sense we are listening to a well dressed single phrase piece.

(Kristof Weber; prae.hu)