Tibor Szemző and The Gordian Knot Company | 2001

FMA Journal, Victoriaville | Catherine Perrey | review | 2001 | English The scope of TIBOR SZEMZŐ’s career is so wide-ranging that it is impossible to pigeonhole him. Over the last two decades, he has produced some 10 recordings, 5films and a host of performances and sound installations exhibited aI1 over Europe, Japan and North America. For him, it a11 started in I979, when he formed Group 180 during his student days in Budapest, an ensemble he would keep together until 1989. Four years after its inception, in 1983, he would contact Steve Reich to ask him for his permission to adapt that composer’s work, “Octet’; for his own group. At first sceptical, the American would eventually relent, only to be moved to tears after hearing the Hungarian’s truly amazing and brilliant version of the piece. Not only that, but Reich himself would also say that this new rendition was equal if not better in some ways to the one played by his own stateside ensemble. SZEMZŐ thoroughly understands the nuts and bolts of repetitive music and its conceptual underpinnings to wit. Yet, his creative endeavours draw on other sources, too, be they visual, literary and even philosophical (the latter borne out in his piece “Tractatus’; a title borrowed directly from Ludwig Wittgenstein’s cornerstone work.) In this North-American concert premiere, two works will be presented: “The Other Shore”and “The Invisible Story”. These in turn will be performed by THE GORDIAN KNOT COMPANY, a loosely knit and highly adaptable collective of nine musicians, more or less. Thefirst work, created in I 998, is actually a film by SZEMZŐ coupled with a live on-stage rnusical performance. At once restrained, yet emotionally direct, the film’s images, which seem to have been shot in 8mm, gain stren8th by virtue of the music. Throughout, we see scenes from everyday life, long shots on faces seen in a park and conversations with Martin B. Balogh, a writer friend of the filmmaker-musician and long-time resident of Japan. In one sequence, a sign appears on screen and it reads: “Seeing all the sounds”. As the film rolls by, the soundtrack becomes more complex, with new layers of sound gradually piling on top of each other by means of reiterated phrases and a single voice of a 100 year old Buddhist Monk reading. The second film, “The Invisible Story” was produced over a four year period, and completed just last ear: This work deals with the ideas of Béla Hamvas (1897-1968), a Hungarian literary figure whose fate was literally sealed by his country’s history. In the aftermath of World War II, this man would pursue dual careers as a librarian and publisher, only to be stripped of these by a communist regime intent on wiping out any of its opponents from the map. Deprived of work, he would be forced to make his living far outside of his chosen field, but this would not prevent him from writing novels and essays dominated by an anti-materialistic point of view. And a very fertile inspiration it was for TIBOR SZEMZŐ, because he has succeeded here in evoking the appropriate moods and climates, from which he has built up his own sonic Towers of Babel, carefully assembled out of hushed vocal sounds and aching string inflexions. Translation from French: Marc Chenard