In a Comment left on Archive posting No.4 (Ansermet) I signposted that I would look for something featuring Leonard Bernstein for the next instalment. Given the many choices, Elliott Carter’s Concerto for Orchestra (1969) is perhaps not obvious, but, put simply, it’s a great piece, and Bernstein and his New Yorkers made such an impassioned first recording as to make the music irresistible.
I’m not sure now why I bought the LP on its first UK outing (sleeve illustrated; in America the coupling was William Schuman’s In Praise of Shahn) – I guess it appealed to my teenage sense of musical adventure (I had already heard and liked Harrison Birtwistle’s Carmen Arcadiae Mechanicae Perpetuum, or his Silbury Air, even though I couldn’t then have said why) – anyway I was bowled-over by the Carter, and listened to it many times, as I was by Aaron Copland’s Connotations, like the Carter, a masterpiece, even if it dismayed its first, gala-night, audience. (Inscape I wasn’t sure about.)
Returning now to the Carter (1908-2012) – from a Sony CD, SMK 60203, on which the coupling is Charles Ives’s Holidays Symphony – I remain entranced and thrilled by his invention, emotional states and orchestration, as well as by this unfazed performance, presumably with the composer present, that the Philharmonic and its charismatic conductor give of what is a complex (it took Carter a year to notate) and possibly challenging score, certainly to play, recorded on 11 February 1970 in Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, its pioneering spirit undimmed by subsequent versions, as good as they are, conducted by Michael Gielen and Oliver Knussen.