Elliott Carter 100th Anniversary ReleaseElliott Carter 100th Anniversary Release

New Music Concerts Ensemble
Robert Aitken, Director

Naxos


Mosaic
Scrivo In Vento
Gra
Enchanted Preludes
Steep Steps
Figment No. 1
Riconoscenza per Goffredo Petrassi
Figment No. 2 (Remembering Mr. Ives)
Rhapsodic Musings
Dialogues


For many, this disc will instill a reaction without listening to it. If you are a fan of Carter’s output, you will be interested in this disc. If you don’t like his music, you will ignore the CD and walk away. If you are curious about Carter’s music, and don’t have a reaction yet, this disc is a great sampler of his later chamber works. For me, I already have recordings of most of these pieces. All of the performances are first rate, of course. Robert Aitken’s interpretation of Scrivo In Vento is my favorite recording of that work so far. No matter the instrument, everyone approaches this music with confidence of technique and a keen ear for expression. Carter’s music is notoriously thorny and abstract but these performances communicate more than “this stuff is hard to play!”

I am particularly grateful for the recording of Mosaic for harp and ensemble. The opening seconds are almost minimalist in nature with an irregular pulsation. It doesn’t take long, though, before Carter’s abstract lyricism takes over. I find Carter’s post-Symphonia output to be lusciously lyrical. There is a sparseness of texture and attention to horizontal motion that is much easier to digest than his more famous metric modulation output.

The DVD that accompanies the CD is rather disappointing. The footage comes from a performance of Carter’s works in Toronto during 2006. There aren’t many insights that are revelatory in Aitken’s recollections or the pre-concert talk Carter gives with Aitken. The video of Mosaic is covered with cheesy, iMovie-esque mirroring effects which irritate more than fascinate. Dialogues also gets a video treatment but is rather unremarkable. The CD is worth the excellent performances and, luckily, you don’t pay extra for the DVD.

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