It is often said that Elliott Carter is the most European of all American composers. Without a doubt, the New York-born composer is one of the most interesting personalities of the New Music scene in the USA. His wide-ranging compositional output is complex, filled with philosophical and poetic allusions that range from orchestral and chamber music, solo instrumental and vocal pieces to his first opera, which he first wrote at the age of 90. He wrote his compositions from his head, without using any instruments, and many of his works were only heard at the premiere. For his 100th birthday, the Sonatina for oboe and harpsichord was premiered by Heinz Holliger and Peter Salomon and has now been recorded for the first time on GENUIN. With this recording, the Swiss Chamber Soloists honors the rich oeuvre of Elliot Carter – music that is full of elegance and transparency.
This is a very pleasing recital of miscellaneous works from throughout Carter's career, with one significant discographic gain. This is the elegant and utterly charming extant movement of the 1947 Sonatina for Oboe and Harpsichord, a cheerful and genial piece full of neoclassical poise and melodious invention, and romantic warmth. The Études and Fantasy give the lie to the notion of Carter as an unapproachably complex composer. Expressive little character pieces, each addressing a different compositional and technical issue, they are remarkable for their clarity and charm. Carter was 103 when he wrote his concentrated little String Trio, featuring the viola in an unusually prominent rôle. Like most of the composer's late music it is brief and relatively easygoing, while still compressing many ideas into a brief span and exhibiting no diminution whatsoever of his imaginative or technical powers. The vocal pieces demonstrate Carter's natural sense of writing for the voice, reminding us that in his youth he had considerable experience as a choral tenor. The Zukovsky songs in particular are especially tender and expressive, the two "voices" duetting in affectionate dialogue. Nine by Five is the composer’s second wind quintet, written six decades after the neoclassical brass quintet. All but one of the players double their instruments, hence the title, producing a wide range of timbral possibilities in various combinations. The work has a strong pull towards tonality in some sections.
– Records Intenraional