Alisa Weilerstein Meets Elliott Carter (Video)

When I heard about Elliott Carter’s passing on Monday, many thoughts went went through my mind, including wondering whether the composer had gotten to hear cellist Alisa Weilerstein’s exquisite performance of his Cello Concerto. Her interpretation on a new disc from Decca is a distinctive one, rivaling previous interpreters Yo-Yo Ma and Fred Sherry in terms of technical acumen and bringing a dramatic heft to the piece’s solo part that is most impressive. I hadn’t yet seen the video (embedded below) of a meeting this past summer of Weilerstein and Carter, in which the composer coaches her through some of the concerto’s trickiest passages. Alex Ross posted it yesterday on The Rest is Noise and I’m grateful to see Carter in a convivial mood, wit undiminished and with musical insights aplenty to share.

If you haven’t heard the recording, I strongly recommend it. Not only is Weilerstein’s performance of the Carter noteworthy, she, along with the Staatskapelle Berlin conducted by Daniel Barenboim, also presents a beautifully vibrant performance of the Elgar Concerto and a supple rendition of Bruch’s Kol Nidre.

Tomorrow at Rutgers: Quintet (Concert announcement)

Nicholas Music Center

The last time my Quintet (1998) was performed was in 2005 by the New Jersey Arts Collective. Tomorrow, Rutgers University Professor Paul Hoffman, director of RU’s Helix! New Music Ensemble, will revive the piece.

This past Wednesday, I had a chance to hear the group rehearse: they are a crack unit of burgeoning new music talent. Most of the program celebrates the work of John Cage. Excited to hear them on Sunday afternoon. If you are in the area and have sufficiently battened the hatches for “Frankenstorm,” consider joining us at 2PM at Nicholas Music Center in New Brunswick, NJ.

(Here is an article, written by Carlton Wilkinson,  previewing the concert for the Asbury Park Press).

Program Note: 
“Quintet for flute, clarinet, violin, cello, and vibraphone was composed in 1997 and 1998. It was the first piece I completed while studying with Charles Wuorinen in the doctoral program at Rutgers University. It was also the first of several works I composed that was inspired by visual artworks from the Abstract Expressionist movement. Quintet was premiered by New York New Music Ensemble at June in Buffalo in 1998 and received subsequent performances by Ionisation and Helix!”
-Christian Carey

Friday: Chiasmus Ensemble in Manchester

On Friday, October 26th, the Chiasmus Ensemble will be giving the UK premiere of my trio Innesscapes. To my knowledge, it is the first of any of my pieces to be heard in England. I’m very grateful to them for programming the piece.

Chiasmus Ensemble

The program also includes the premiere of Chiasmus director James Stephenson’s Piano Quintet, as well as music by Eve Harrison and Idin Samimi Mofakham.

Sounds of the Engine House - Event Details

International Anthony Burgess Foundation - Cambridge Street, MANCHESTER, M1 5BY

Date: October 26 Time: 7.30pm start

Price: £3 entry


Jonathan Harvey Review in Musical America

Dissonance Meets the Divine

My review of last Thursday’s Jonathan Harvey Composer Portrait at Miller Theatre, featuring Ensemble Signal conducted by Brad Lubman, was published today in Musical America.

You can read it here (subscription required, but the magazine offers a short term free trial – why not kick the tires?)

Monday 10/15: Thomas Larcher premiere at ACF

Thomas Larcher. Photo: Richard Haughton.

This Fall, Austrian Cultural Forum continues to celebrate their 10th anniversary season with a variety of events. The concert they are presenting on Monday, October 15th seems somewhat to have fallen off of mainstream classical’s radar. More’s the pity, because it features a world premiere by Thomas Larcher, who is fast becoming one of Europe’s important composers.

What makes one an important composer? Sometimes critical apparatuses equate “bigger” with more “important:” operas, orchestra pieces featuring multiple tam tams, multimedia spectacles, etc. By that metric, Larcher is an unlikely heir to the Euro zone’s big guns. But for those willing to countenance the notion that more intimate works for smaller forces can also be compositions of great significance, Larcher is your man.

He is also a pianist, and much of his oeuvre is chamber music that features his instrument. The ACF commissioned a chamber work from Larcher, but one that doesn’t include piano. French/German cellist Nicolas Altstaedt and French violinist Nicolas Dautricourt, both members of Chamber Music Society 2, will premiere Larcher’s duo for strings alongside pieces by Ravel, Kodály, and Schnittke.

Event Details: The concert is at the Austrian Cultural forum on Monday at 7:30. Tickets are free, but you should reserve seats here.


Thursday: Harvey Uptown and Fairouz in Brooklyn

Among Thursday’s offerings, two composer portrait concerts compete for the attention of New York audiences.

Photo by Maurice Foxall.

I’m writing about the Jonathan Harvey concert for Musical America. Performed by Ensemble Signal at Miller Theatre, it features two of his large scale, spiritually inspired ensemble pieces, Death of Light/Light of Death (1998) and Bhakti (1982) (event details here).

Bird Concerto with Plainsong, Jonathan Harvey’s recent CD on NMC, is one of my favorite discs thus far in 2012.

Mohammed Fairouz is having his portrait concert  at Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral in Brooklyn. It is being produced by the folks at Issue Project Room. The program includes three world premieres and features the Borromeo String Quartet, Cygnus Ensemble, Elizabeth Farnum, pianists Kathleen SupovéBlair McMillen, and Taka Kigawa, and mezzo-soprano Blythe Gaissert. (event details here).  

Hot off the presses is Fairouz’s debut on the Bridge imprint, Sumeida’s Song, an opera about peacemaking and tolerance, written when the precocious composer was only twenty-two years old.