Records International review Elliott Schwartz: Chamber Concertos I-VI

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Records International
December 1, 2009

These six little concerti are typical of Schwartz's gleefully eclectic style, the presentation of the many facets of which is facilitated through his espousal of a deep- and wide-ranging use of 'collage' technique. What this means in practical terms is that the music presents a kaleidoscopically shifting assemblage of layers of material, which can range from literal quotations of classical or romantic models in their original tonal language to reminiscences of the styles of earlier music (of many kinds) to frankly atonal, abstract and complex gestures. Occasionally, too, textural material is established through the use of tightly controlled aleatory. The composer's lively deftness of touch in organizing these strands of disparate material renders these admittedly multifaceted and complex constructions readily navigable, and the unexpected shock of recognition of a smartly positioned familiar reference (often with humorous intent; the works, while constructed with complete seriousness do not take themselves overbearingly seriously) provides the listener with a welcome signpost every now and again. Similarly subject to variable focus are the soloists' roles, which vary between that of a concertante member of the ensemble and full-blown, center-stage soloist.