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The Music Of Elliott Carter Vol 5 - Nine Compositions

Release Date: 06/24/2003 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9128   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Elliott Carter
Performer:  Virgil BlackwellCharles RosenFred SherryMaureen Gallagher,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 4 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

In this fifth volume, Bridge Records' ongoing Elliott Carter series offers an extremely wide-ranging collection of nine compositions for various chamber forces, as well as one particularly pleasant surprise. That surprise is the song cycle Of Challenge and of Love (1994), five songs set to some pretty terrific poetry by John Hollander. While the idiom is typically challenging, Carter shows himself keenly sensitive to the ambiance of each poem and contrives music that is both evocative and quite singable. The deep bell sounds of "Under the Dome", and the finely sustained atmosphere of "Quatrains from Harp Lake" make a particularly strong impression. In the brief final number, aptly entitled "End of a Chapter", Read more Carter makes interesting play with the notion of "true beauty" as opposed to the merely "picturesque" in a brusque setting that challenges the listener to ask if he understands the difference, particularly as it relates to the "easy" parts of the songs just heard. All in all, it's a brilliant work, well sung by Tony Arnold and affectingly played by pianist Jacob Greenberg.

The other major work is the Oboe Quartet (for oboe and string trio composed in 2001), brilliantly played by wind soloist Stephen Taylor and three members of Speculum Musicae. This busy, at times almost playful work also enjoys an imaginative variety of texture and has enough clearly audible signposts to give a good sense of its ever-evolving form. This is not easy listening--Carter never is--but it's worth the scant 15 minutes the piece demands. Two Diversions for solo piano (ably rendered by Charles Rosen) inventively presents each hand with independent material, the composer's intent coming through clearly and with more than a few arresting moments (in the second movement especially). Fred Sherry plays two splendid fragments for solo cello, Figments Nos. 1 and 2. The First Figment is subtitled "Remembering Ives", and it's a very moving three and a half minutes, again (for Carter) surprisingly easy on the ear.

The other works range from the austere duet for two clarinets, Hiyoku (2001), to the delicious Steep Steps for solo bass clarinet ("delicious" simply because of the juicy timbre of the instrument). Au Quai, for viola and bassoon, at less than three minutes makes little lasting impression, but the tiny Retrouvailles, a tribute to Pierre Boulez for piano solo, packs an impressive amount of incident into the tiny space of two minutes. Typically fine sonics from Bridge are compromised by just a touch of shrillness to the voice in the song cycle, but otherwise deliver the goods in all respects. There's a lot of very interesting and thoughtful music here, some of it even conventionally beautiful, and if nothing else this disc demonstrates that despite (or because of) its complexity, Carter's musical language permits a wide range of expression. It's an important point to note, and listening to this disc represents a fine way to get the message. [9/2/2003]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

Steep Steps by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Virgil Blackwell (Bass Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
Diversions (2) by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Charles Rosen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Quartet for Oboe and Strings by Elliott Carter
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Speculum Musicae
Period: 20th Century 
Written: by 1995; USA 
Figment 2 "Remembering Mr. Ives" by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Fred Sherry (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 
Au Quai by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Maureen Gallagher (Viola), Peter Kolkay (Bassoon)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2002; USA 
Of Challenge and of Love by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Tony Arnold (Soprano), Jacob Greenberg (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Figment by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Fred Sherry (Cello)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994; USA 
Retrouvailles by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Charles Rosen (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2000; USA 
Hiyoku by Elliott Carter
Performer:  Ayako Oshima (Clarinet), Charles Neidich (Clarinet)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2001; USA 

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