Notes and Editorial Reviews
Robert Carl writes: "Louis Karchin lived for many years in Greenwich Village. The music of Charles Wuorinen (and, by extension, the time-point system of Milton Babbitt, which Wuorinen advocated) was enormously influential on his early development. The signposts of post-serial music, quick overturn of events, highly chromatic surface materials, abrupt contrasts, and disjunct melodic lines, abound in Karchin's early works. Nonetheless, even when I first met him twenty years ago, Karchin treated these aspects of compositional language as tools, not scripture. I remember being wowed by his fertile rhythmic imagination; an early violin concerto's cadenza had the feel of a great solo rock guitar break. I also remember feeling that one really heard the harmonic motion, no matter how complex the surface. Over the ensuing decades, I have observed Karchin's artistic growth with great pleasure. It has become clear that his music comprises deep, ongoing dialogue with the great works of the core repertoire. Modernism is for him, as it was for Schoenberg, a way of establishing contact with tradition, not a means of eradicating it. Gradually and naturally, Karchin has developed a language that is rich, consistent, and difficult to pigeonhole. His pieces consistently explore and use such devices as consonant intervals, deployment of those intervals to define clear points of harmonic arrival and departure, repetitive textures that afford the music expansive gestures, and highly recognizable motives that recur in perceptible and meaningful transformations. In short, the techniques that have defined Western compositional practice during the past three centuries are constantly at work in Karchin's music."