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PETER DICKINSON listens to the music of Elliott Schwartz


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Elliott Schwartz - Equinox. Copyright (c) 2000 Recorded Anthology of American Music, Inc.Schwartz's music is usually to be found on mixed-composer CDs but with this release he's included in the massive New World Records catalogue with a CD all to himself. And about time too. It's particularly rewarding to be able to savour several of his works at a sitting rather than having to look for them in various collections, although that is well worth the effort. For example, you can find three of his works on a two-CD set called 'Blue Dawn into White Heat' recorded by the University of Minnesota Symphonic Wind Ensemble on Innova 517. Schwartz's 20-minute 'Chiaroscuro: Zebra Variations' is quite simply the most eloquent work for wind band I have ever heard. The release also contains two fascinating pieces for multiple wind - Reflections for six bassoons and Aerie for six flutes. As elsewhere Schwartz is providing repertoire not otherwise available - with considerable compositional ingenuity and in a way which is appreciated by performers.

But to the music on the new CD which, like all the pieces I've mentioned, emanates from the 1990s - a most productive decade for Schwartz. The CD opens with 'Tapestry', commissioned by a Danish ensemble, which is based on an earlier piano piece written 'to commemorate the courageous efforts of the Danes in saving Danish Jews from Nazi capture during World War 2'. As in most of Schwartz's later works there is quotation, but the procedure rarely sounds like Ives. In 'Tapestry' there are fragments of music composed in a concentration camp and a Danish folksong. The whole texture resonates with lovely aerated consonances, especially major thirds. Schwartz has rehabilitated the triad, perhaps through that formative contact with Vaughan Williams, and 'Tapestry' is a moving tribute.

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Copyright © 18 June 2000 Peter Dickinson, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK





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