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Carter: Choral Works / Creed, Swr Vokalensemble


Release Date: 09/08/2009 
Label:  Hänssler Classic   Catalog #: 93231   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Elliott Carter
Performer:  Andreas GrauGötz Schumacher
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews



CARTER Tarantella. 1,2 Let’s Be Gay. 1,2 Emblems. 1 Heart Not So Heavy As Mine. Musicians Wrestle Everywhere. To Music. The Defense of Corinth. 1,2,3 Harvest Home Marcus Creed, cond; Götz Schumacher (pn); 1 Andreas Grau (pn); 2 Mark Munkittrick Read more (nar); 3 SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart HÄNSSLER 93.231 (58: 49 Text and Translation)


This is not the Carter many may expect. The composer wrote a large body of choral music in the 1930s and 1940s, when he was in his “nationalist” phase, something he felt he ultimately had to jettison to find his voice. What this means is that this music is far more tonal and tuneful than the works that emerged post 1950. One certainly hears a sort of “American pan-tonal” harmony similar to Copland. There’s also a Gallic clarity and rigor to the writing that shows the influence of Carter’s long apprenticeship with Nadia Boulanger and the resultant influence of Stravinskian aesthetics.


But, of course, the composer being who he is, there is also much more. For one thing, the music is strongly contrapuntal—no wallowing in beautiful chords for their own sake. In this way, it shows an affinity to the world of the great English Elizabethan and Jacobean madrigalists. Often, there is a deeply serious, somber, stately tone, above all in Emblems (1947, on poems of Allen Tate; Carter always has set an “A list” of poets), which is in fact just on the cusp of his stylistic sea change, and has a gravitas similar to that of his soon-to-be-written Piano Sonata. And there is also an impish wit, most evident in The Defense of Corinth (1941), itself a sort of shaggy dog story (from Rabelais) leading to an anecdote about Diogenes.


These are excellent performances, and the German singers have flawless American English diction. The recorded ambience is a bit distant and boomy for my taste, but one still gets all the music. This used to have competition, with a CRI disc of the same repertoire by the Gregg Smith Singers, which also included three major Carter songs, Warble for Lilac Time, Three Poems of Robert Frost , and one of his early masterpieces, Voyage (in an orchestral version). But, alas, since the demise of the company, it’s no longer available on CD, though it may be emerging via what I hear are New World’s plans to reissue the label’s catalog as downloads. But for the moment, this recording is the one to have of this important repertoire, and, in fact, it includes two other works not on the CRI collection, Let’s be Gay and Harvest Home.


I have to end with two missed opportunities, though. The Harmony of Morning (1944) is not included, I suppose because it requires chamber orchestra to accompany female choir. Understandable, but as a result the “completist” mandate of Carter’s choral music from this period is unfulfilled. And, in the summer of 2008, Carter’s work Mad Regales was premiered at Tanglewood. Written for six solo voices, it is his first venture into vocal ensemble writing since the 1940s. While literally not for chorus, it’s a great shame it was not included in this collection (though possibly this project was underway or even complete by the time of the premiere). Anyway, some enterprising chorus and their director now has a mandate.


FANFARE: Robert Carl
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Works on This Recording

1.
Tarantella by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Andreas Grau (Piano), Götz Schumacher (Piano)
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Notes: Engineers: Martin Vögele; Friedemann Trumpp. 
2.
Let's be gay by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Götz Schumacher (Piano), Andreas Grau (Piano)
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937 
Length: 3 Minutes 9 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Karl-Heinz Rundle. 
3.
Emblems: 1. Maryland, Virginia, Caroline by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 44 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Volker Neumann. 
4.
Emblems: 2. When it is all over by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Götz Schumacher (Piano)
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Length: 9 Minutes 43 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Karl-Heinz Rundle. 
5.
Emblems: 3. By the great river by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Götz Schumacher (Piano)
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1947; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Karl-Heinz Rundle. 
6.
Heart not so heavy as mine by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1938; USA 
Length: 5 Minutes 14 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Burkhard Pitzer-Landeck. 
7.
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1945; USA 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Burkhard Pitzer-Landeck. 
8.
To Music by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937; USA 
Length: 7 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Burkhard Pitzer-Landeck. 
9.
The Defense of Corinth by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Andreas Grau (Piano), Götz Schumacher (Piano)
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1942; USA 
Length: 13 Minutes 18 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Martin Vögele. 
10.
Harvest Home by Elliott Carter
Conductor:  Marcus Creed
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1937/1997 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
Notes: Engineer: Karl-Heinz Rundle. 

Sound Samples

Tarantella
Let's be Gay
Emblems: No. 1. Maryland, Virginia, Caroline
Emblems: No. 2. When it is all over
Emblems: No. 3. By the great river
Heart not so heavy as mine
Musicians Wrestle Everywhere
To Music
The Defense of Corinth
Harvest Home

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