The Harmony of Morning
Music by Elliot Carter: To Music, Tarantella, Harvest Home, Emblems.
Let's be gay, Heart not so heavy as mine, The Defense of Corinth, Harmony
of morning, Musicians wrestle everywhere.
Four years ago I reviewed a CD of music from Koch (3-7178-2H2) which
contained three of these pieces by Carter and works by three other composers.
I said then that I thought it was a pity that Koch had not been bold enough
to issue a whole CD of Carter's complete choral music with full texts. For
Carter's much celebrated 90th birthday this has now actually happened and
I couldn't be more delighted with the result. The earlier Carter performances
were the starting point and this very capable choir has now added the rest,
including some unpublished material.
Carter himself explains that one of the reasons he wrote nothing for
the voice from 1947 to 1975 - which is extraordinary - was that most of
the music recorded here was performed so badly. So he turned to instrumental
music - with astonishing results for the development of his highly personal
and increasingly energetic style.
The earliest piece is the Tarantella, adapted for the Harvard
Glee Club, of which Carter was a member, from some incidental music for
a Latin play. The 18-year old Carter stretches the glee-club idiom to near
breaking point in rollicking neo-classical style. The SATB pieces here,
including two settings of fine poems by Emily Dickinson, show Carter's interest
in the type of counterpoint found in madrigals. This gives the writing a
special flavour which, particularly in The Harmony of Morning for
women's voices and small orchestra, is uncannily close to the sound of Tippett
at the same period.
In many ways the most surprising discoveries are the two numbers taken
from unpublished incidental music to The Beggars Opera, especially
the scintillating 'Let's be Gay' which must be the closest Carter has ever
come to Broadway. The most substantial works are The Defense of Corinth
- an elaborate description with speaker of the crazy Diogenes' attempts
to contribute to the war effort by careering up and down in his tub - and
Emblems to three poems of Allen Tate. These show their glee-club
origins but there are fascinating glimpses of Carter's future as in everything
on this CD. The whole collection is thoroughly enjoyable in its own right,
well recorded and full texts are provided - an essential Carter purchase.
Copyright © Peter Dickinson, March
To Music, Tarantella, Harvest Home, Emblems. Let's be gay, Heart
not so heavy as mine, The Defense of Corinth, Harmony of morning, Musicians
John Oliver Chorale / John Oliver|
Martin Amlin and Frank Corliss (piano)
THIS CD FROM CROTCHET
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