Webmaster: Len Mullenger
Seen and Heard International Concert Review
Carter, Mozart, R. Strauss: Jonathan Biss, Piano, New York Philharmonic, Lorin Maazel, Conductor, Avery Fisher Hall, New York City, 1.10.2005 (BH)
Carter: Holiday Overture (1944, rev. 1961)
Mozart: Piano Concerto in A major, K. 488 (ca. 1784-86)
R. Strauss: Tod und Verklärung (Death and Transfiguration), Op. 24 (1888-89)
R. Strauss: Dance of the Seven Veils, from Salome (1905)
Those who still shudder when Elliott Carter’s name
is mentioned might investigate his totally approachable and
invigorating Holiday Overture, written when the now
nonagenarian was a trifling 36 years old.
But this piece is no trifle, despite Aaron Copland’s
dismissing it as another one of those “typical, complicated
Carter scores.” Perhaps
Copland was a tad envious, since Carter’s piece resembles
Copland in its airy strength – as if the latter had penned
it himself. Created for a huge orchestra, heavy on the percussion,
the piece speaks in broad swaths of sound – perhaps think
Roy Harris, but refracted through Carter’s restless prism.
But unlike Copland (or what most people think is Copland),
Carter’s Holiday veers off into ambiguous, layered
chords sprinkled with bits of slight atonality.
It wouldn’t be out of place next to Ives’ depictions
of holidays, with their clashingly ambiguous emotions.