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The Eight Piano Pieces are Kurtág’s third opus. The simplest possible compositional means are used: each of the eight aphoristic movements is hardly more than the raising of a musical idea – just a gesture, nothing more. The logic behind the organisation of sounds, however, is immediately recognizable: the rhythm is either free or is based on rudimentary principles of organisation.
Although the individual pieces are independent units, certain of their specific features group them in different sections within the composition as a whole, e.g. pieces one to four form a unit owing to the similarity of the organisation of their sounds; Numbers six and seven are linked as a result of their similar emotional charge, etc. The Eight Piano Pieces, then, are not merely a series of compositional etudes – each is a finished bagatelle and each is an integral part of the large form. The composition as a whole sheds a new light on the parts that make it up – pieces that by themselves might appear even primitive.