Elliott Carter has lived so so long that his Late style has developed into Late Late style, as he puts it. Some people are senile aged 25 and never grow. Carter keeps being inventive and developing! His later style is pristine. "I don't have time", he quipped, but this discipline instils a purity and preciseness into his more recent work. The beauty of chamber music is that it's direct, precise, lucid: no time to waste in meaningless elaboration. In his "youth" Carter's work was breathtaking for its complexity, but complexity that was carefully structured and defined. Now it's zen-like, no less sophisticated but distilled.
To celebrate Carter's 101st yesterday I listened to Dialogues and the Boston, Cello and Asko concertos again, conducted by Oliver Knussen. It's part of the series on Bridge Recordings, essential listening for any serious Carter fan. These pieces date from 2000-2003, Dialogues in particular being a seminal work. Luckily, I was able to attend these pieces live, Maybe I'll write about the disc in more detail later.
A while back I attended a concert curated by Pierre Laurent Aimard which showcased Dialogues with other pieces, demonstrating its significance in the body of Carter's music. The last time I heard Dialogues was with Boulez and Ensemble Intercontemporain, on Carter's birthday last year, so any comparison with that would be unfair on anyone. Pity, though, that no one picked up on the brilliant programme put together by Pierre Laurent Aimard, a man who knows what he's doing. It was so interconnected, so witty! It included Carter's tribute to Goffredo Petrassi on Petrassi's 80th birthday. The tribute worked. Petrassi lived another 20 years, passing away just short of his 100th. Carter and Boulez, who are friends from way back, have often paid tribute to each other. For all we know, Carter could be writing something for Boulez's centenary in 16 or so years!
News though is advance publicity for a new recording to be released in Februray 2010. This will be Vol 8 in the Bridge series and will include the Horn Concerto, Sound Fields, Wind Rose, MAd Regales, On Conversing with Paradise and many other very recent pieces. Premiere recordings, of course but again, I was lucky to hear most of them live and on BBC broadcasts. Hooray for socialism! The British taxpayer funds these things so Carter's music can be heard and appreciated by the whole world.