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Cage, Carter, Babbitt, Schuller / Levine, Chicago SO

Release Date: 08/29/2007 
Label:  Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog #: 431698   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Elliott CarterGunther SchullerMilton BabbittJohn Cage
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

Carter's Variations may be relatively early (1956), but there's still plenty of inventive energy and fluctuating pace—in the central variations—to relate the discourse to the exploratory later works. The general ambience is close to the Schoenberg of the Variations, or even Moses und Aron, but the built-up tension and drama which explodes with the climactic trombone entry (21'20'') over attacks on the timpani is reached in Carter's own way. At that point and in other respects this new recording compares favourably with the old CBS on LP with the New Philharmonia under Prausnitz (7/69—nla), which represented the Variations on record for many years. The work reflects the serious and questing aspect of Carter rather than the unbuttoned Holiday Read more Overture.

Another performance of Cage's Atlas Eclipticalis! In a single issue I reviewed no fewer than three recordings—for three flutes (all Eberhard Blum on Hat Hut, through superimposition); for chamber orchestra (The Barton Workshop on Etcetera) and for the full group (86 players) with the SEM Ensemble (Wergo)—this is the work which flopped at a New York Philharmonic Concert in 1964. Now players obviously relish the open experience of Cage, taking initiatives rather than fulfilling routines. Perhaps the idea of a work based on star charts appeals. The result in this fourth recorded realization, which has little connection with the others, is as authentically aimless as the skies themselves. The playing is at a low dynamic level and there are silences: the timpani take over from 6'18'' to 6'59'' and end the whole thing...

Babbitt's Correspondences, a typical product of his technological muse, appears to be the first recording of his 1967 work for strings and tape. Schuller's Spectra is a resourceful but sprawling 20-minute piece, dedicated to Mitropoulos. Its single span is less obviously successful than his Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee (Mercury, 7/93), also from the late 1950s.

-- Peter Dickinson, Gramophone [7/1994]
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Works on This Recording

Variations for Orchestra by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1954-1955; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 23 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Notes: This performance is of the 1966 corrected edition. 
Spectra by Gunther Schuller
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1958; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 20 Minutes 29 Secs. 
Correspondences by Milton Babbitt
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 10 Minutes 6 Secs. 
Atlas eclipticalis by John Cage
Conductor:  James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961; USA 
Date of Recording: 07/1990 
Venue:  Orchestra Hall, Chicago 
Length: 14 Minutes 19 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Variations for Orchestra
Spectra for Orchestra
Atlas Eclipticalis

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Antiserialists pleas try this! April 20, 2013 By Lewis George (Keysborough, Victoria) See All My Reviews "I have never liked most purely atonal music. However, I like tonal music which uses serial techniques to achieve an artistic effect, so therefore I like all of Britten, Poulenc, much Stravinsky, John Adams and many, many 20th and 21st century composers. This recording is 100% atonal, yet I like it all. Or rather, I can listen to it and enjoy it for what it is without my mind wandering off, or wishing I was doing something else. Why should that be? Firstly, it is played by one of the world's greatest orchestras under James Levine, a conductor whose work I have admired since his days in the 1970's when he conducted Mozart in broadcasts from the Salzburg Festival. The most impressive work for me was Carter's Variations, which showers a kaleidoscope of orchestral colour throughout its length. I bought the CD after reading Schuller's recently published autobiography, in which he writes so enthusiastically about serial and atonal music that I felt encouraged to give it another try. Babbitt was one of Schuller's enthusiasms, and I had long known of him, but felt the time had arrived to hear his music. It was a tough but rewarding listen, as were all the works on this disc. Schuller' s Spectra shows great command of orchestral texture and reveals structural integrity. Finally, it was Levine and the CSO which guaranteed the quality and artistry inherent in all four works. The sound on this CD is sumptuous stereo and deserves to be heard on fine audio. For the initiated, nothing in this review will surprise, but for those who still have a sense of adventure, and an open mind, try it. I believe few will be left unmoved. I played one piece at a time with a few days between, and that helped make the experience worthwhile." Report Abuse
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