Elliott Carter: Choral Works

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LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Tarantella; Let’s be Gay; Emblems; Heart not so Heavy as Mine; Musicians Wrestle Everywhere; To Music; The Defence of Corinth; Harvest Home
PERFORMER: Andreas Grau (piano), Götz Schumacher (piano); SWR Vokalensemble Stuttgart/Marcus Creed

From the very beginning of Elliott Carter’s 70-year composing career come the dozen or so works he composed for various choirs, notably the Harvard Glee Club, between the mid-1930s and 1947. Because Carter then abandoned the choral medium for 60 years, they are often assumed to be tangential to his creative output, but this CD shows that’s far from the case.
The choral medium, particularly when combined with piano, was an invaluable creative laboratory for Carter to try out different ‘manners’: neo-classicism in the Tarantella (which has a blatant steal from Stravinsky), motoric, hammered piano plus voices in The Defence of Corinth (another steal from Stravinsky, this time Les noces), and the English madrigal in Musicians Wrestle Everywhere.
Hints of the later Carter come in the latest work on the disc, Emblems of 1947.The performances are terrific, so what could have been a curiosity is actually a delight. Ivan Hewett