"Dazzling" new Elliott Carter work premiered by Colin Currie
Published: 11 July 2011
Colin Currie and Pierre-Laurent Aimard premiered a “dazzling” new work by Elliott Carter at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival. Carter’s Conversations, a miniaturised double concerto for piano and percussion with Mozart-sized orchestra, lasting a “pithy and eventful” seven minutes, was premiered by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen, with Currie and Aimard as soloists. The work is co-commissioned by the Aldeburgh Festival, New York Philharmonic and Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
“It's a beautifully engineered series of encounters between the piano (played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard) and the array of percussion (Colin Currie), who match and swap registers and sound worlds. The ensemble supplies terse punctuation until, in a brief, dazzling climax, it too gets swept into the soloists' figuration, before the piece ends with a last metallic aside.”
The Guardian, 27 June 2011
“This afternoon I heard a new double concerto for piano and percussion whose mixture of mathematical complexity and bouncy joie de vivre took the breath away... Currie describes the work as “one of the most significant additions to our chamber repertoire since the Bartok Sonata of 1938″. He’s right: this is a magical score. The work lasts only seven minutes, during which the piano and marimba send out showers of perfectly synchronised arpeggios, interspersed with metrical games that draw in the brass, strings, drums, gong and vibraphone. Knussen very sensibly conducted it twice, and the second time around every bar yielded little felicities of scoring that I’d missed the first time.”
Telegraph Blogs, 26 June 2011
“Scored for solo piano and percussion with Mozart-size orchestra, it makes a pungent statement. Conversations is a witty dialogue between solo instruments with much in common – the piano, after all, has percussive qualities – but represent different viewpoints about sound. In Carter’s scenario, the piano sets the pace and has the best music, but the percussion commands a wider palette and seems more exuberant, often putting the piano in the shade. When marimba or vibraphone calls the tune, the conversation sounds harmonious. When gongs or drums take their turn, the soloists seem at odds. As in any civilised argument, they refrain from interrupting each other. The piece reaches a humorous, single-note conclusion – and Carter pulls off another of his succinct musical metaphors for social interchange. Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Colin Currie were spirited soloists with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under Oliver Knussen.”
Financial Times, 28 June 2011
“The music’s splintered sound felt like pure thought in motion. As did the brand-new double concerto Conversations from the 102-year-old Elliott Carter, in which percussionist Colin Currie and pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard tossed musical shapes at each other like netball players. No doubt about it; it was the old masters who seemed truly young.
The Telegraph, 28 June 2011
“The piece is more about response and reaction — everywhere quick, brittle, witty — than about solo virtuosity. And its writing challenged the [orchestra] as much as the soloists in its mercurial impulses and ricocheting resonances.”
The Times, 29 June 2011
“Music of an amazingly energetic bent... Conversations for piano and percussion reveals a composer who, at least in musical thought, hasn't slowed down one bit. From the off, fantastically industrious ideas are summoned up (a tone row boogie-woogie from Pierre-Laurent Aimard's piano, syncopated responses from Colin Currie's marimba) and hurtle uncontainably around the stage like three-year-olds around a kitchen table.”
The Arts Desk, 27 June 2011