Music has to be an adventurous experience
Olivier Messiaen and Elliott Carter have centenary celebrations on consecutive days in December 2008. I have already written my first post on the Messiaen celebrations, so here to maintain the transatlantic balance are a couple of lesser known CDs of Elliott Carter's music that are well worth exploring in his centenary year.
Cedille Records is the independent label of The Chicago Classical Recording Foundation. Their CD Early Chamber Music of Elliott Carter (sleeve above) played by Chicago Pro Musica captures works from the transition period when Carter was moving away from Copland and other influences and finding his own distinctive voice. If you still think Elliott Carter's music is 'inaccessible' you will be delighted by this 1999 disc. A bonus are the excellent, but English only, sleeve notes from Stephen Heinemann.
I remarked on the English only sleeve notes as contemporary American music has a big following in Europe. The Bad Boys II event in Bruges, Belgium in February, which includes performances of Morton Feldman's Rothko Chapel and music by John Cage and Christian Wolff, is just one example of this following. Another comes from the Italian label Stradivarius in the form of the excellent CD Changes Chances of guitar music by Elliott Carter, John Cage (a transcription of Four6) and Terry Riley played by Elena Casoli (below). The Carter work is Changes from 1983, which post-dates the early chamber music by 30 years. In an excellent multi-lingual sleeve note Elena Casoli tackles the perceived inaccessibility of Elliott Carter's music head-on:
One reason why Carter's music is difficult to listen to is that the listener encounters no recurring themes or phrases. It is all a continually evolving process and Carter said as much himself: 'I like to think of my work as a series of journeys, every new piece represents a journey to me. Music has to be an adventurous experience.'
Amen to that last sentence; I'll make it my mantra for 2008.
Continue the journey to Terry Riley here.
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