BMOP/sound, the nation's foremost label launched by an orchestra and devoted exclusively to new music recordings, adds to its venerable catalog the October 2009 release of Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI. Known for his wildly eclectic music, Schwartz remains committed to composing concert music which reflects his fascination with brilliant instrumental color, stylistic collage, and neo-Baroque textural models. Presenting strikingly resourceful ideas on the timeworn musical form of the chamber concerto, Schwartz reimagines the concerto for the present in Chamber Concertos I-VI, a collection composed and revised over the span of 30 years.
"These six works can be thought of as different strategies for dealing with the 'concerto' principle -- 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."
An eclectic overlay of harmony and chromaticism inform the texture of all six works. Each concerto reflects the influence of mid-20th-century Modernism and Schwartz's career as a writer, performer, and teacher (over 40 years at Bowdoin College) in coastal 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 longdefunct BBC murder-mystery series serves as the impetus for Chamber Concerto V: Water Music (1991).
Chamber Concertos III, V, and VI were recently revised specifically for the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP). Chamber Concerto III: Another View (1977, rev. 2007) received accolades from The Boston Globe for "its most impressive feature... the spiky coloring and wide dynamic range Schwartz gets through the skillful deployment of a small group of players." Chamber Concerto VI: Mr. Jefferson (2007, rev. 2008) for violin presents the heaviest textural multi-layering and the highest level of collage quotation of all six concertos. Composed as a commentary on various personality traits and accomplishments of Thomas Jefferson, the piece is comprised of five movements: "The Inventor," "The Violin," "The Garden," "The Letter," and "The Portrait."
BMOP/sound, the Grammy-nominated label of the acclaimed Boston Modern Orchestra Project, explores the evolution of the music formerly known as classical. Its eclectic catalog offers both rediscovered classics of the 20th Century and the music of today’s most influential and innovative composers. The label's '08 recordings received several accolades including "Best of 2008" CD nods by American Record Guide, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, National Public Radio, Time Out New York, and Downbeat Magazine. Recent 2009 releases have included Derek Bermel: Voices (Feb); David Rakowski: Winged Contraption (Mar); John Harbison: Full Moon in March (Apr); and Louis Andriessen: La Passione (Jun). Upcoming releases include Ken Ueno: Talus; Dominick Argento: Jonah and the Whale; Alan Hovhaness: Exile Symphony; and William Thomas McKinley: R.A.P. For more information, visit http://www.bmopsound.org.