Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elliot Carter: Volume 9 - A strong addition to Bridge's survey

Elliott Carter: Volume 9
 Steven Beck, piano
Tony Arnold, soprano
Colorado College Festival Orchestra; Scott Yoo, conductor
et al. 

In the 9th volume of Bridge Record's Elliot Carter series is an interesting collection of old and the new.

The old is represented by some of Carter's works from the 1940's - two works for soprano and orchestra, plus the intimate "Tell Me Where is Fancy Bred" for soprano and guitar. All three works have the tonal American sound of Aaron Copland and Roy Harris, but the harmonies are slightly more adventuresome.

The new consists of three piano works, all composed between 2005 and 2009. This is Carter at his most advanced and complex. The temporal modulations, the advanced atonal structure, and the incredibly technical challenges are all there -- and admirably handled by pianist Steven Beck.

Linking these two groups is Carter's 1964 Piano Concerto, performed by Charles Rosen. When heard in order, the works on this release reveals insights about Carter, and his growth as a composer. As pleasant as they sound, one can hear the seeds of his highly personal style in the 1940's works. The piano concerto still has echoes of that earlier tonal style, and look forward to the final three piano works on the album.

This is an album that rewards careful listening, and is an important addition to Elliot Carter's musical legacy.

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