Elliott Carter - 100th Anniversary Release
Hard on the heels of 2L’s excellent overview (1/09) comes this Naxos release marking Elliott Carter’s centenary. Framing it are two of his most striking recent ensemble pieces: Mosaic explores harp techniques evolved by inter-war virtuoso Carlos Salzedo, centred on a melodic “through line” around which evolves a discourse inventive and diverting by turns. Erica Goodman and New Music Concerts Ensemble are hardly less insightful than the Swiss Chamber Soloists (Neos), while in Dialogues David Swan yields only marginally to the pianism of Nicolas Hodges (Bridge, 4/06) in music which, though not without peremptory asides, is a scintillating discourse of equals and probably the pick of Carter’s recent works.
From among Carter’s many miniatures inspired by fellow composers and musicians, Robert Aitken revels in the sharp contrasts of Scrivo in vento while Max Christie brings a fine-honed wit to Gra. Likewise Aitken and David Heatherington in Enchanted Preludes, flute and cello engaged in sensuous counterpoint, while Virgil Blackwell surpasses his earlier self in the lively paces through which Steep Steps puts bass clarinet. Heatherington does full justice to the Figments – the former given with thoughtful restraint, the latter Remembering Mr Ives with warm affection – as does Fujiko Imajischi the deft intensity of Riconoscenza and compacted energy of Rhapsodic Musings; outward display here tempered with an eloquence no less acute than that of Rolf Schulte (4/06).
The bonus DVD features performances of Mosaic and Dialogues, and Carter in lively conversation with Aitken. Swings and roundabouts as regards individual performances, but a worthwhile acquisition overall.