Volume Four of Bridge's outstanding Elliott Carter series features one of his masterpieces, Eight Pieces for Four Timpani, along with fascinating recent shorter works. Virtuoso guitarist David Starobin makes the most of "Shard," which packs more harmonic and rhythmic variety into its kaleidoscopic two and a half minutes than many much longer works. "Shard" reappears within the longer Luimen, a delicately colored piece that exploits its unusual instrumentation--trumpet and trombone joining the plucked instruments guitar, mandolin, harp, and vibraphone. Tempo e Tempi is a cycle of eight songs to poems by Italian poets for soprano and a quartet of winds and strings, fascinating in its rhythmic complexity and coloristic subtleties. Soprano Susan Narucki is the flawless high-flying soprano, coaxing lovely melodies from Carter's uncompromising writing. The timpani piece is bound to be a favorite of anyone with a taste for percussion instruments or with the curiosity to discover how much variety and nuance can be derived from the instrument. It's brilliantly performed here by Daniel Druckman. Bridge's first-class sonics and informative booklet notes add to the attraction of a must-have CD for Carterites and anyone interested in contemporary music. --Dan Davis
With this release Bridge continues its award winning series devoted to the music of Elliot Carter. This volume contain the premiere recordings of two recent Carter scores- the highly inventive Luimen and the stunning song style on Italian poetry, Tempo e Tempi. Performing on this CD are members of Speculum Musicae- the ensemble that has been most closely associated with Carter's music during the past 30 years. The disc opens with Shard, performed by the work's dedicatee, guitarist David Starobin. Shard is the second solo guitar work Carter has composed for Starobin, and is a brief, but highly volatile opener. Shard in its entirety was incorporated into Carter's next work- the shimmering Luimen. Speculum's performance of Luimen shows all the traits that have made Carter's recent music so intriguing- great rhythmic freedom and superb control of form in combination with high spirits and good humor. Tempo e Tempi is a set of eight songs based on poems by Eugenio Montale, Salvatore Quasimodo, and Giuseppe Ungaretti. Called by annotator Malcolm McDonald, "one of the most beautiful song-cycles of recent times," Susan Narucki's radiant performance captures these songs to perfection. Finishing this program is Eight Pieces for Four Timpani in its first complete performance on CD. It is performed by Speculum and New York Philharmonic percussion virtuoso Daniel Druckman, son of the late, great American composer Jacob Druckman.