Encore Boston
Helen Cooper
December 1, 2009

Classical music as we know it is evolving on a daily basis. Orchestras across the world are developing new musical techniques—blending centuries-old practices with modern innovations and creating sounds that bring Bach and Beethoven with 20th century Modernism. At the forefront of these efforts is Boston’s BMOP/sound, the nation’s foremost record company launched by an orchestra. The record company already has a dozen albums under its belt and is celebrating its 13th album— Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI.

Released in October 2009, Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI examines the musical form of the chamber concerto for the modern age. The product is an exciting collection that has been composed and revised over the span of Schwartz’s career, a 30-year work-in–progress. Known for his wildly eclectic music, Schwartz remains committed to composing concert music that reflects his fascination with brilliant instrumental color, stylistic collage, and neo-Baroque textural models.

“These six works can be thought of as different strategies for dealing with the concerto principle in six variations, not on a theme, but on a genre,” explains Schwartz. Influenced by a number of composers—Ives, Ravel, and Mahler—who switch stylistic gears with ease and grace, Schwartz believes the album “can be heard as a fusion of solo concerto and concerto grosso.”

Fusion truly is fundamental in Schwartz’s work. Influenced by 20th century modernism and the composer’s own career as a writer, performer and professor in New England. In addition, each piece quotes fragments from pre-existing music, which in turn generate melodic lines, chords, and rapid, busy figurations. For instance, Chamber Concerto I (1976) pays homage to Tchaikovsky and Sibelius; Chamber Concerto IV (1980-81) is inspired by the music of Michael Tippet; and the signature tune for a long-defunct BBC murder-mystery series serves as the impetus for Chamber Concerto V: Water Music (1991).

Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI and any BMOP/sound album are available for purchase at http://www.bmop.org/.