NYTimes.com discusses a recent interview with Elliott Carter about his new compositions.
Now that hardly a month goes by without a new work by Elliott Carter, a listener could easily forget that in former times Mr. Carter spent years writing each piece. If he had been this prolific four decades ago, when he was 60, his catalog would probably rival that of Liszt or Villa-Lobos.
With his 101st birthday approaching in December, Mr. Carter still has projects in mind. In a freewheeling interview with the cellist Fred Sherry during a Works & Process concert at the Guggenheim Museum on Monday evening, he discussed his current one: a woodwind quintet in which all the parts are written with instrumental doublings, so that the five musicians will play 10 instruments.
NYTimes.com reviews this recent festival.
A stray orchestral work, Helen Grime’s Clarinet Concerto (2009), opened the Sunday evening concert, which was otherwise devoted to chamber music. Ms. Grime, an English composer born in 1981, seems drawn to melody and textural luxuriance, but she also has an ear for counterpoint and rhythmic complexity that gives her music an appealing edge. The concerto’s most entrancing section is a clarinet cadenza in which a combination of trills and sustained tones creates the illusion of several clarinet lines intertwined. Brent Besner was the superb soloist.
Ms. Grime’s work was a world premiere, as was Elliott Carter’s “Poems of Louis Zukofsky” (2009), on the same program. Lucy Shelton, the soprano, and Thomas Martin, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s associate principal clarinetist, are sufficiently expert in Mr. Carter’s music to round off its difficulties, but this one needed little help: its soprano line, though chromatic, is warm-hued and melodic, and the clarinet writing darts around it in a way that brings out the humor in some of Zukofsky’s quirky, aphoristic texts.
Also on Sunday evening the guitarist Oren Fader presided over a lively account of Mario Davidovsky’s invitingly pointillistic “Festino” (1991), and Ryan McAdams conducted a suitably brash, pulsing performance of Tansy Davies’s “neon” (2007), a septet rooted in a Zappaesque raucousness.
You can never have too much Elliott Carter, and the Times reviews some recents performances.
The Elliott Carter centenary celebrations had a brief respite after Mr. Carter’s birthday in December, leaving a few weeks to commemorate the 200th anniversaries of Mendelssohn’s birth and Haydn’s death. But Mr. Carter’s admirers have gotten a second wind, and on Tuesday and Wednesday the 92nd Street Y brought that composer back into the spotlight by way of two concerts (three, if you count a preconcert recital on Wednesday).
Pierre Boulez garners praise in Chicago.
Pierre Boulez is a shot in the arm for both the players on the stage and the large audience in the house. Despite the efforts of MusicNOW principal conductor Cliff Colnot, programming of the series under current CSO composers-in-residence Osvaldo Golijov and Mark-Anthony Turnage has not always been the most challenging, sometimes even veering into new-music easy listening.
Just as he does at Orchestra Hall with the big band, Boulez, who turns 84 this month, reminds us that serious need not be morose. Far from it. The concert he curated and led Monday night, featuring an essential 1975 score by Elliott Carter and recent works by French and German Boulez proteges, showed that rigor, discipline and edginess captivate much more than endless loops and post-modern noodling.
Despite his name and ancestry, Bruno Montovani, 34, is French to the core, and his 2005, 15-minute “Streets” for 10 players is a brilliant update on Edgard Varese’s pioneering works inspired by sounds of the big city. Tightly wound and carefully composed, Montovani’s music is rhythmically propulsive and laced with surprising turns.
Composer Lukas Foss has passed on.
Lukas Foss, a prolific and versatile composer who was also a respected pianist and conductor, died at his home in Manhattan on Sunday. He was 86, and also had a home in Bridgehampton, N.Y. His wife, Cornelia, announced his death.
Although he was a German émigré, Mr. Foss was, from the start of his composing career, considered an important voice in the burgeoning world of American composition, along with Aaron Copland, Samuel Barber, Elliott Carter and Leonard Bernstein. And like Bernstein, he enthusiastically championed the works of his colleagues. But where Bernstein, in his compositions, melded jazz and theater music with a lush symphonic neo-Romanticism — or wrote theater music outright — Mr. Foss preferred to explore the byways of the avant-garde, focusing at different times on techniques from serialism and electronic music to Minimalism and improvisation.
Monday Evening Concerts features American Originals on January 12.
Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:00 p.m.
Zipper Concert Hall at the Colburn School
Morton Feldman The Viola in My Life II
Alvin Curran Schtyx L.A. premiere
Frederic Rzewski 96 L.A. premiere
Frederic Rzewski Pocket Symphony L.A. premiere
Donald Crockett, conductor
Vicki Ray, piano
David Johnson, percussion
Movses Pogossian, violin
Sarah Thornblade, violin
Kazi Pitelka, viola
Roger Lebow, cello
Phil O’Connor, clarinet
Gary Woodward, flute
“Schtyx are charts, bones, professions, shades, numbers, glues, hypes, acts, devils, organgrindings, wood implements, jugglers, chance operations, performance art, the Yiddish underground,” writes composer Alvin Curran. His wonderfully irreverent and lyrical music blends an array of compositional practices into a singular musical language. Two recent chamber works by Curran’s longtime friend Frederic Rzewski—a 4-minute canon dedicated to Elliott Carter, and the witty and improvisatory Pocket Symphony—share the program with Feldman’s hypnotic The Viola in My Life II.
The Soni Ventorum Wind Quintet recorded quite a few pieces from major composers, and now many of these have been posted for free download on their web site. Of particular interest are two works of Elliott Carter.