Elliott Carter

Late Works

Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano
Colin Currie, percussion
Isabelle Faust, violin
Jean-Guihen Queyras, cello
Birmingham Contemporary Music Group
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Oliver Knussen, conductor



Sleeve notes in English


August 2017

Catalogue No.:
ODE 1296-2


Track listing

CD 74:42
Elliott Carter (1908-1912)
1 Interventions for Piano and Orchestra 17:09
2 Dialogues for Piano and Chamber Orchestra 13:05
3 Dialogues II for Piano and Chamber Orchestra 4:30
Two Controversies and a Conversation for Piano, Percussion and Chamber Orchestra 10:25
4 Controversy I 1:44
5 Controversy II 1:55
6 Conversation 6:46
7 Instances for Chamber Orchestra 7:11
8 Epigrams (I - XII) for Piano Trio 13:58

Complete description

An impressive cast of artists are joining together in this Ondine recording dedicated to the late works by iconic American composer Elliott Carter (1908–2012). The album includes five premiere recordings, including Carter’s final work Epigrams (2012) for piano trio, featuring
Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Isabelle Faust and Jean-Guihen Queyras. The album also features percussionist Colin Currie joined together with the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Oliver Knussen.

Composer Elliott Carter’s prolific career spanned over 80 years. He was encouraged towards a career in classical music by his friend and mentor Charles Ives. He studied under composers Walter Piston and Gustav Holst while attending the Harvard University, and later in Paris, studying with Nadia Boulanger before returning to the United States. In his final years, Carter continued to complete works with astounding frequency writing more than sixty works after the age of ninety. Carter’s last completed orchestral work, Instances (2012), was premiered by the Seattle Symphony in February 2013. His final work, Epigrams (2012) for piano trio, was premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2013 – both works are included on this recording.

The earliest work included in this album, Dialogues, dates from 2003. It is a work for piano and orchestra composed of short, clearly articulated phrases. Carter wrote a sequel to the work, Dialogues II (2010), for Daniel Barenboim’s 70th birthday. Soundings (2005) was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra for its Music Director at the time, Daniel Barenboim. The piece’s ten sections alternate between solo instruments (or small groups) and ensemble tutti, somewhat like a concerto grosso. Interventions (2007) – written for Boston Symphony Orchestra, James Levine and Daniel Barenboim – is a combination of piano concerto and orchestral tone poem. In 2010 Carter wrote Conversations, a mini-concerto for piano and percussion requested by Colin Currie. The following year, at the suggestion of Oliver Knussen, Carter added two brief prefatory movements and retitled the piece Two Controversies and a Conversation. Instances (2012), for chamber orchestra, is dedicated to Ludovic Morlot, Music Director of the Seattle Symphony. Carter describes the piece as “a series of short interrelated episodes of varying character.” Epigrams (2012) is Carter’s last composition. “To amuse myself” (as he put it), he began writing very short pieces that could be completed quickly and later assembled into a suite. Carter, who studied Greek poetry as an undergraduate at Harvard, was clearly drawn to the concision, surprising turns, and wit of the literary genre to which his twelve short Epigrams allude.