Lovely ensemble playing
Joe Barron | Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States | 08/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Elliott Carter belongs to a select group of composers -- Mozart, Brahms, Nielsen, and Stravinsky come to mind -- who find particular inspiration in writing for the clarinet, which figures prominently in all but three of the nine works on this CD. Carter's writing for the instrument is characteristically idiomatic -- by turns piercing, sighing, and bubbly -- and Simon Aldrich, the clarinettist here, captures every inflection, whether playing alone, as in the short solo Gra, or as one contributor to the seamless playing of the Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne. I never truly appreciated the Triple Duo until I heard the performance on this disk. Carter expert David Schiff has described the work as a comedy, and conductor Lorraine Vaillancourt approaches it in that spirit. Her group achieves a playfulness and drive I have not noticed in other recordings. I would easily rank this as my favorite performance on CD, and the one that most reveals the true stature of the piece. The other extended work in this collection, the thrice-recorded Clarinet Concerto, is also well played. Simon and the Ensemble interact with sensitivity and responsiveness, neither upstaging or overwhelming the other. We know this is a clarinet concerto largely because it is the one instrument in the group that never stops playing."