WORKS: Partita; Continuo; Visions
PERFORMER: Chicago SO/Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 4509-99596-2 DDD
Carter’s programme note explains that the Partita depicts ‘the many changes and oppositions of mood that make up our experience of life’, and that it ‘seeks an awareness of motion when flying or driving a car, not the plodding of horses or marching of soldiers’. Barenboim and the Chicago Symphony meet this music head-on. From its arresting opening, the Chicago’s vividly recorded, powerfully driven performance highlights the contrast between long melodic lines and spare, staccato harmonic events in a compelling account that winningly conveys the octogenarian Carter’s youthful joie de vivre.
Berio’s Continuo presents a more rigorous, architectural structure. It was described in the notes as ‘a symphonic piece with a chamber character’, and the Chicago’s deft control of this music’s continuous sound space, interrupted by flickering, complex instrumental virtuosity, reveals a potently hypnotic, ever- changing musical landscape.
The rich harmonic language of Takemitsu’s Visions owes much to Messiaen and Debussy; and the Tokyo Metropolitan SO’s version of it (Denon CO-79441), is appropriately responsive to the work’s pointillistic tonal variation. However, inspired by the ‘live’ recording conditions, the Chicago luxuriate more expansively in the music’s spacious atmosphere, with subtle shifts of orchestral colour that emphasise the piece’s seductive, mysterious quality. Nicholas Rast