30 April 2009

A Thumbnail of Two Musical Neighborhoods

On Sequenza21, Steve Hicken reviews the Naxos CD+DVD commemorating Elliott Carter’s centenary. I had snapped up that Naxos release (a) because I expected to enjoy the music—and I do, (b) it’s cheap—face it, that’s how Naxos first got our attention, and largely how they manage to keep it, and (c) because both of the larger-scale soloist + ensemble pieces (Mosaic for solo harp and seven instruments, and Dialogues for piano and 18) have appeared on the ’09-’10 BSO season. I found myself less bothered by the amateurish video effects in Mosaic than were both Steve and Jay Batzner on Sequenza21. But I expect we should agree that A Labyrinth in Time is a more substantial and significant DVD document of the composer.

And, because of the accident of timing (I finished reading through the book last night, and was listening earlier today to the third, fourth & fifth Canticles), this closing observation in a Phaidon trade paperback:

But the fear that much of his work would not long survive him has proved ill-founded. Since his death the idea that modernism, essentially descending from Schoenberg and his pupils, is the central musical language of our time, a language to which Britten’s music mad no contribution and is therefore irrelevant, has become less and less tenable.

Benjamin Britten (p.212) by Michael Oliver

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