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Music of Elliott Carter - Vol 7
“You might expect the tone of these late works to be meditative and autumnal, but in fact they're witty, brightly coloured and full of mental and rhythmic agility. The four big-scale works from the 1990s… are all conducted by Oliver Knussen' and what a marvellous job he makes of projecting the complicated polyrhythmic layers and sudden changes of mood and direction.” 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
“At first glance, Dialogues (2003) would seem to be in the old Carter model… Carter describes the piece as a conversation between piano and orchestra, but the lively discourse continues with little of his former abrasiveness. The Cello Concerto (2001), by contrast, is more a solo oration with some periodic cheers from the crowd. ...under soloist Fred Sherry the rhetoric is less of a crutch than a platform to make the main points clear and fresh. ...the remaining concerto grosso works here... 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 Magazine, April 2006
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Elliott Carter 100th Anniversary
CD and DVD
DOCUMENTARY DVD INCLUDED
Elliott Carter in Toronto in 2006
- Introduction by Robert Aitken
- Elliott Carter in conversation with Robert Aitken
- Excerpts from the composer’s works recorded on the CD
Naxos is delighted to present this special birthday tribute to one of the leading composers of our time. The release comprises a full length CD and DVD release for a very special price.
Twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize, first composer to receive the United States National Medal of Arts, one of the few composers ever awarded Germany's Ernst Von Siemens Music Prize, and in 1988 made ‘Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ by the Government of France, Elliott Carter is internationally recognized as one of the leading American voices of the classical music tradition.
“Elliott Carter is one of America’s most distinguished creative artists in any field” Aaron Copland nominating Elliott Carter for the Gold Medal of the National Institute of Arts and Letters for Eminence in Music (1971)
“Mosaic for harp and ensemble was composed for the Nash Ensemble in 2005, and is a miniature concerto in all but name… There's an irrepressible verve about the writing, as there is about the more astringent 2004 Dialogues for piano and ensemble - the Canadian performers capture it vividly.” BBC Music Magazine, March 2009 ****
“Naxos's second Carter birthday offering concentrates on the later works, only two of which are at all substantial: Dialogues for piano and ensemble, composed for the London Sinfonietta in 2004, and Mosaic for harp and ensemble, written for the Nash Ensemble the following year. They are both typically deft, slightly prickly pieces - Dialogues, in particular, has a musical density that is disguised by its modest dimensions - and the rest of the disc is taken up with a series of the instrumental miniatures Carter has produced over the last two decades, often as birthday offerings for friends and fellow composers. The Canadian performances are all highly accomplished, and the release also includes a DVD containing a filmed interview with Carter, as well as concert performances of Mosaic and Dialogues.” The Guardian, 20th February 2009
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