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Elliott Schwarz: Equinox

Release Date: 04/18/2000 
Label:  New World Records   Catalog #: 80582   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Elliott Schwartz
Performer:  Renée JollesBrent SamuelBlair McMillenCharles Kaufmann,   ... 
Conductor:  Roland Kieft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fibonacci SequencePrometheus Chamber PlayersNetherlands National Youth Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Elliott Schwartz's compositional style has been described as "post-eclecticism" for its use of quotations from the enormously wide range of music created in the 20th century (and earlier). Each of the five works on this disc contains passages constructed from fragments of music from the past, all filtered through Schwartz's individualistic musical language, which though primarily 12-tone is so shot through with consonance that it sounds like atonal music that's been stretched to the brink of tonality, rather than the other way around.

Tapestry, scored for string trio, opens with quiet murmuring strains jostled by disjointed melodic shards that gradually increase in substance until solid tonal centers appear.
Read more At this point we more fully hear the quotations from music by concentration camp composers (the work pays tribute to Danes who rescued Jews from Nazi capture during World War II) as well as a popular Danish folksong. Phoenix quotes from Schwartz's own earlier work Flames, itself composed of fragments of still earlier pieces, while Vienna Dreams cleverly weaves strands from sources as varied as Brahms, Schubert, Mozart, and Jerome Kern into such a complex atonal overlay that it's often difficult to discern the source melodies even as you feel that they are definitely "there" somewhere.

In Rows Garden Schwartz goes beyond mere quotation and plans each of five pieces around a particular tone row by Schoenberg, Berg, and Webern. In this work, scored for wind quintet, the composer claims to have made these tone rows sound more "American" (whatever that means). In any case, Schwartz hopes the listener will "enjoy them without any historical or theoretical baggage." Assuming we enjoy them at all, of course, which in this case is not something to be taken for granted! The disc closes with Equinox, a sprawling "concerto grosso" that brings to mind the music of Alfred Schnittke in its alternation of orchestral and soloist/chamber ensemble passages. Schwartz builds eclectic elements into the very structure of the score, and the music seamlessly segues back and forth between romanticism and modernism. Early Schoenberg (the first Chamber Symphony) comes to mind, but interestingly so does Franz Schreker--but Schwartz's vividly dramatic style resembles film music more than anything else.

The performances of all of these works are exceptionally accomplished, rendered by players who clearly care about the music. New World's recording convincingly recreates both the chamber and the concert hall. In sum, this is a fascinating collection by one of today's cutting-edge composers. Contemporary music aficionados should not miss this one.
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Tapestry by Elliott Schwartz
Performer:  Renée Jolles (Violin), Brent Samuel (Cello), Blair McMillen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1996; USA 
Date of Recording: 10/1998 
Venue:  Town Hall, New York City 
Length: 14 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Phoenix by Elliott Schwartz
Performer:  Charles Kaufmann (Bassoon), Elliott Schwartz (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/1999 
Venue:  Portland, Maine 
Length: 14 Minutes 47 Secs. 
Vienna Dreams by Elliott Schwartz
Performer:  Kathron Sturrock (Piano), Julian Farrell (Clarinet), Yuko Inoue (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Fibonacci Sequence
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1998; USA 
Date of Recording: 12/1998 
Venue:  The Warehouse, London, England 
Length: 8 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Rows Garden by Elliott Schwartz
Performer:  Thomas Parchman (Clarinet), Krysia Tripp (Flute), Michelle Vigneau (Oboe),
John Boden (French Horn), Gregory Newton (Bassoon)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Prometheus Chamber Players
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1992; USA 
Date of Recording: 11/1997 
Venue:  Carlisle, Massachusetts 
Length: 10 Minutes 21 Secs. 
Equinox by Elliott Schwartz
Conductor:  Roland Kieft
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Netherlands National Youth Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Date of Recording: 04/1998 
Venue:  Nijverdaal, Netherlands 
Length: 19 Minutes 45 Secs. 

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