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Carter: Symphony of Three Orchestras, Varese: Deserts; Equatorial; Hyperprism

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Audio CD, January 9, 1996
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4:14
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 9, 1996)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Classical
  • Run Time: 48 minutes
  • ASIN: B000002C05
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,713 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Though the combination of Carter and Varese is odd, I can't see giving this disc, part of the superb Sony PIERRE BOULEZ series, anything less than 5 stars. It is the only available recording of Carter's "Symphony for Three Orchestras" (1976 -- 15'41), and the Varese is uniformly excellent as well. It strikes me as simultaneously bizarre and marvelous that Carter's work, which was written to celebrate the American Bicentennial, with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, was commissioned by Pierre Boulez! Boulez was then the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. The piece is based on Hart Crane's poem "The Bridge." It is a tragic vision of America, and the music begins in the highest registers, and descends until, with a series of violent crashes, it ends in the lowest registers with tuba and double bass.

In the SYMPHONY, like Stockhausen's GRUPPEN, Carter divides the orchestra into three groups, and each group plays four movements, so the result is 12 overlapping movements in all. The recording of the NYP is from 2/22/77, and who better than Boulez to produce a crystal-clear rendering of this teeming complexity! There is only one thing that I would change, and that is that the piece is too short.

Here's a fantastic quote from Carter from the liner notes: "I do not want to give the impression of a simultaneous motion in which everybody's part is coordinated like a goose step. I do not want to write the kind of music that just marches on and marches off. I want it to seem like a crowd of people, or like waves on the sea -- all things that signify a much more fluid, and, to me, more human way of living."

There is an
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By A Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I too wish this disc were all Carter. The Varese is a little disappointing. (The disc is also short.) The "Deserts" recorded here inexplicably removes the tape parts that (usually) give it its distinctive flavor. Those interested in Varese may therefore want to look instead to the Chailly set on London.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
That's the final line of Hart Crane's enormously beautiful and difficult poem, The Bridge, which Elliot Carter chose as the inspiration for his equally beautiful Symphony for Three Orchestras. Carter was apparently fascinated by Crane's poetry, with its splintery imagery and jazz-age rhythms. I'm glad the notes alerted me, however, to the connections, since no words of the poem are incorporated in this instrumental panoply of sounds.

Hart Crane was my favorite poet when I was 20. I understood him then. Judging by what critics write of him today, I should say I misunderstood him then. The critics declare that Crane was lamenting the decline of American vision and promise into industrial soullessness. I heard Crane singing a paean of beauty - a vague paean, mind, but full of exultation. I hear a vibrant, exulting beauty in the music of Elliot Carter also. Perhaps I've got it all wrong. If so, don't disillusion me.

The Symphony OF Three Orchestras is a composition for three ensembles on one stage. The ensembles, chiefly melodic percussion, each play four movements of a structure at least suggestive of the traditional symphony, but each ensemble begins its movement while the previous ensemble is finishing, creating an overlapping kaleidoscopic sound. Carter declares that the listener is not expected to hear thematic development as such, but rather a fluid, human way of sounding, "like a crowd of people or waves on the sea." Well now, I suspect most people will first hear waves indeed, of beautiful noise without any clear structural intention. That may be enough to be pleasant listening. There is more to the music than rippling sounds, I promise. The deeper you listen, the more you'll hear, but don't try to write an essay about it.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I picked this up for The Elliott Carter - I guess since I named my dog after the maestro you could say I'm a fan and yet I didn't have a copy of this piece. Needless to say, this is one of my favorite Carter pieces. It is as complex as any of his works and yet is surprisingly accessible. When I listen to Carter's music I notice that he often has different threads playing in counterpoint to one another - to get the music you often have to hear the threads. With this piece he makes the job easier by separating a lot of it out to the three orchestras.

Surprisingly I did not have any of the Varèse in my collection. Well, I do have a movement of Deserts from a sampler CD so I understand what I'm missing in this. The lack of electronics makes it a very different piece. It is still enjoyable but I wish Boulez had included the electronics. Oh well, the other Varèse pieces are very good. As a Zappa fan I know I need to listen to more Varèse...

Overall I really like this - I think the Carter on the CD is about as good as late 20th century concert music gets. The price of the MP3 download makes this a no-brainer for anyone even the slightest interested in Contemporary music.
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