On my trip to Budapest in January, I got to hear a rare revival of Zsolt Durkó's 1972 oratorio Halotti beszéd, or Burial Prayer. The performance took place under the auspices of the Mini-Festival at the Palace of Arts; Mátyás Antal led the MÁV Symphony and the Hungarian National Choir. At one time, in the seventies, Durkó seemed poised for wider renown; Burial Prayer won acclaim after a BBC performance that the tireless Bálint András Varga helped to bring about. Then, as Varga comments in his recent book From Boulanger to Stockhausen, Durkó "disappeared from the international scene almost without a trace," along with such contemporaries as Sándor Balassa and András Szőllősy. This is a pity: Burial Prayer, setting the oldest extant text in the Magyar language, is a substantial, powerful work. It's strongly reminiscent of Ligeti and Lutosławski in places, but the finely calibrated contrapuntal writing and the juxtapositions of complex textures and chantlike recitation show a distinctive personality. The ending, in which the tenor whisper-sings "Kyrie eleison" over a cloudlike chorus and tremolo double basses, is breathtaking. Admittedly, it's hard to imagine performances abroad: as the composer Gyula Fekete pointed out to me, even Hungarians have difficulty with the medieval text. But Durkó is certainly worth a second look. In my library is a 1996 Hungaroton CD of his music, pairing Burial Prayer with excerpts from the sprawling, rhapsodic 1989-91 piano cycle The History of the Spheres.