Last week, I recounted my impressions of Elliott Carter's new Concertino for bass clarinet and chamber orchestra, which received its US premiere June 18 in New York City. It seems, however, I'm still not quite up to date. An even newer work by Mr. Carter, a double concerto for piano, percussion, and chamber orchestra, titled "Conversations" and written when the composer was a spry 101, has just been performed for the the first time in the UK, and if reviews from the Telegraph, The Financial Times, The Guardian, and the Arts Desk can be believed, its an exiting, major new piece.They're using words like witty, dazzling, pungent and beautifully engineered, zip, and zest to describe it.(But, seriously, who trusts the judgment of mere Brits when it comes to modern American music? We must wait until our neo-con populist American critics weigh in before we may express an informed opinion.)
So when is it coming to the States? The Boosey website gives no indication.
The title, Conversations, by the way, is in keeping with Mr. Carter's penchant, more pronounced in recent years, for describing his music in ways that evoke people talking — what Andrew Clark calls his "succinct musical metaphors for social interchange." In a sense, he is continuing a pattern established by Charles Ives, who called the first two movements of his Second String Quartet "Discussions" and "Arguments." That example appears to have stuck with Mr. Carter. But if he wants to continue, I'd like to suggest a few less cerebral, more intimate forms of discourse: How about "Flirtations," for clarinet and percussion?
"Seductions," for piano and strings?
"Phone Sex," for trombone and orchestra?