July 4, 2011

Elliott Carter, apple pie, and the Fourth of July

On the fourth of July I always recall the resounding FUCK OFF! which in the late 1970s concisely summed up for me the immigration policy of Western European countries.  Not that I wanted to settle in France, Germany, or Holland.  For a youngster who was lucky to make his way to the good side of the Iron Curtain, Western Europe was not distant enough from the monstrous Land of the Victorious Proletariat.   And although I still remember the cold European shoulder, I now also understand that Western European countries had to reserve enough of their living space for all those radical Muslims they would welcome with open arms some years later.

So on this holiday I allow myself to get a bit sentimental about America - the country which took me in and made me feel at home as soon as I cleared the immigration and customs at JFK.  I forget the things I don't like about it and focus on the things I love.  Among the latter nothing makes me feel more patriotic than the music of Elliott Carter.


sasha said...

O yes quite fitting on this Independence Day to post music of one of America's finest sons..Look forward to checking these various performances out..Many thanks Boom.

sasha said...

Wow a fascinating expierence to listen to the same composition three times in quick succession..It really opens the work up for me..And its a piece by Carter I'd never heard prior to this..Well so far its the two Aimard performances and the Hodges/Barenboim that I've heard..And to my surprise it was the Hodges/BPO that really hit the spot..There seems an enormous sensitivity here to the way the orchestra often follows in the wake of a decaying piano chord (in its shadow as it were)..The BSO Levine performance seemed lacking in direction compared to this (as if where Barenboim heard form Levine seemed random/choatic)..However Aimard's piano beautifully recorded..I look forward to checking the others out now..Many thanks for these posts Boom.

Boom said...


Nick Hodges - a superb pianist - made a good studio recording of Dialogues (with Knussen), but not as exciting as his live version. I think that much credit for that Berlin performance should go to Barenboim. He is not only one of the most experienced conductors of Carter's music, but he also performs Carter's works as a soloist (e.g. Interventions) or as a soloist and conductor (e.g., Soundings). If I recall correctly, Carter dedicated his Soundings for Piano and Orchestra to Barenboim (and based a short motif on Barenboim's initials).

Of course Levine is another strong advocate of Carter's music, and he is a skillful pianist. But not THAT skillful to play Carter's works in public. Perhaps that's one reason why the Boston performance struck me as having a "traditional piano concerto" feel to it. But then again, to hear the glorious sonorities produced by BSO in this kind of music is also a very special kind of treat for me.