On Thursday at Symphony Space, string duo Laurie Smukler (violin) and Joel Krosnick (cello) present a concert that includes both classical and contemporary duets. The program features one of the first musical tributes to Elliott Carter since his passing on Monday: the late work Tres Duetti. Krosnick, a former member of the Juilliard Quartet, collaborated closely with Carter, premiering and performing a number of his works. Another American composer with whom he worked closely was the self-styled “Radical Traditionalist” Ralph Shapey. Thursday’s concert has Duo Variations, a work by Shapey composed for Krosnick, slated for performance as well. Below, the cellist shares some words about knowing and working with Carter.
“For those of us who grew up as American musicians in the 1950′s playing the music of our time, and who have continued to do so until now, Elliott Carter has been a seminal philosophical presence in our entire lives as musicians. From the appearance of the astonishingly massive Quartet No. 1 in 1951, through the four other quartets culminating with the 5th Quartet in the late 1990′s, Mr. Carter has been, for just a small example, an integral part of the life of anyone who loved and played string quartets. The Juilliard Quartet premiered the 2nd and 3rd Quartets of Mr. Carter, and of course played them all. (We will play the 5th String Quartet at a Juilliard School concert on December 19, which was to be a celebration of Mr. Carter’s 104th birthday.)
“My first memorable experience with the music of Elliott Carter was of course the Cello Sonata from 1948, perhaps the most important cello sonata of my lifetime as a musician. I had the great good fortune to be allowed by Mr. Carter to make an early recording of that great work in the mid 1960′s with the pianist Paul Jacobs for Nonesuch Records (followed in the 1990′s by a second recording of the work with my pianist partner, Gilbert Kalish, for Arabesque Records). And since that time, I have had the privilege of being a part of innumerable performances over many years of the Cello Sonata, all five of the String Quartets, the Harpsichord Sonata, the Triple Duo, the Oboe Quartet, the Figment No. 1 for Solo Cello, the Tre Duetti for Violin and Cello, the Piano Quintet, and the Clarinet Quintet (written for and premiered by Charles Neidich and the Juilliard String Quartet).
“As I have said, Elliott Carter has been a major presence in my life as a musician, almost from the start. Even considering his advanced age of 103, it is suddenly astonishing that he will no longer be with us writing his great music.”