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Music of Elliott Carter - Vol 6
“…the performance of the Violin Concerto on the other CD is especially interesting… Rolf Schulte gives the whole concerto an almost fevered intensity.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2006 ****
“There are composers who get a second wind late in their career – and then there's Elliott Carter.
Late bloomers such as Verdi (to whom he's often compared) usually make a dramatic coda to their careers, but Carter's burst of productivity in his nineties has actually revealed a noticeable change in musical direction. Their respective rate of maturity notwithstanding, a more fitting comparison would be Ginastera, another composer who began in an accessible folkloric style, turned almost excessively complex in middle age, and reconciled the two in his late maturity.
Having these two volumes of Bridge's Elliott Carter series arrive almost concurrently helps put the composer's career in perspective.
Despite the pleasing tonality and unapologetic American-ness of Carter's 1945 HolidayOverture (the connection with Ives's HolidaysSymphony worn handily in its title), the dense counterpoint and rhythmic complexity are nonetheless already in place. The aggressively modernist Carter we usually think of came of age shortly afterward and is still going strong in the Violin Concerto (1990), where musical lines remain unrestrained by tonality or conventional rhythmic pulse.
Those lines may not be as individualistic as in the composer's chamber works but they nonetheless need firm guidance from the podium.
Justin Brown shows a sure sense of each line and its destination, making instrumental outbursts more purposeful and less impulsive than they might otherwise seem. It provides, in fact, a nearly unified orchestral front against Rolf Schulte's fairly lyrical solo playing, with textural contrasts duly marking emotional contrasts.
Four Lauds for solo violin, part of an ongoing series of short virtuoso works, traces Carter's more recent transition, from the assertive Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi (1984) to the more freely 'romantic' (the composer's own description) Rhapsodic Musings (2000). Though hardly as prevalent as his chamber works, the inner musical lines remain surprisingly vital, setting up a palpable internal counterpoint that Schulte deftly navigates.
At first glance, Dialogues (2003) would seem to be in the old Carter model, where different musical lines unfold with such clearly delineated personalities that they're often compared to characters in a play. Carter describes the piece as a conversation between piano and orchestra, but the lively discourse continues with little of his former abrasiveness. This is civilised cocktail chatter rather than a raucous town meeting, with musical points respecting each other's space rather than yelling each other down. The Cello Concerto (2001), by contrast, is more a solo oration with some periodic cheers from the crowd. A full decade away from the Violin Concerto, the piece falls back much more squarely on traditional string phrasing and playing technique, but under soloist Fred Sherry the rhetoric is less of a crutch than a platform to make the main points clear and fresh.
Without the benefit of soloists, the remaining concerto grosso works here, the ASKO Concerto (2000) and the Boston Concerto (2002), indeed confirm a change in Carter's musical approach.
It might be too much of a stretch to blame this new-found clarity on the composer writing his first opera in 1999 (at the age of 90!) but clearly Carter has started letting his musical ideas sing as well as shout.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“Despite the pleasing tonality and unapologetic American-ness of Carter's 1945 Holiday Overture… the dense counterpoint and rhythmic complexity are nonetheless already in place. The aggressively modernist Carter we usually think of came of age shortly afterward and is still going strong in the Violin Concerto (1990), where musical lines... need firm guidance from the podium. Justin Brown shows a sure sense of each line and its destination.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2006
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Rhapsodic Musings: 21st Century Works for Solo Violin
On her new album, Rhapsodic Musings, Koh brings her "deep musicality and an ear for the fine points of composers’ styles" (The New York Times) to works from the dawn of the 21st century by Elliott Carter, John Zorn, Augusta Read Thomas, and Esa-Pekka Salonen.
Koh’s playing is sure to win new fans for Carter’s Four Lauds (1984–2000), a series of ingenious miniatures commemorating fellow musicians; Zorn’s mystical Goetia (2002), eight occult incantations using the same sequence of 277 pitches; Thomas’s blazing Pulsar (2002), which the composer describes as a "passionate, urgent, seductive" musical journey of self-discovery; and Salonen’s chaconne-like Lachen Verlernt (2002), a mini-drama that gains momentum as it unfolds with sounds 'both furious and strangely gorgeous' (Los Angeles Times).
“Few violinists can make Carter sound so effortless, leading the ear through the complex invention of his Four Lauds… Rhapsodic elements are also key to Salonen's lonely Lachen Verlernt, an impressive span of increasing intensity that, in tender moments, echoes Sibelius. The final work, Zorn's Goetia, is the most extreme exploration of the violin's abilities. Each short movement presents a different character... a fantastic conclusion to an authoritative disc.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2010 *****
“Jennifer Koh brings both a formidable technique and considerable warmth to this varied set of contemporary violin works. Her reading of Elliott Carter’s “Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi” (1984), notable for its plush tone and evocative portamento, is a highlight” New York Times, 26th November 2010
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