The Viennese classical era encounters the modern era: the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and Pierre-Laurent Aimard will juxtapose Mozart’s Piano Concertos in B-flat major, K. 450 and C major, K. 503, in which the pianist perform both as soloist and conductor, with the music of Elliott Carter, one of the most significant US American composers of the 20th century. Daniel Barenboim emphasised that Carter, who saw himself as the legitimate successor to Charles Ives, “brought together two totally different worlds” without necessarily attempting to synthesize them. The two-time recipient of the Pulitzer Prize died in 2012 at the age of 103.
In the very year he died he began (purportedly in order to “amuse” himself) to compose a series of short pieces for piano trio, which he compiled to a suite with the title Epigrams: Carter’s last work, dedicated to Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and in title and structure hinting at the ancient Greek genre of epigrams, whose pithiness, surprising twists and wit the composer (who studied Greek poetry at Harvard University) felt attracted to all his life.
The quintet for piano, oboe, clarinet, French horn and bassoon was written about 20 years earlier for Heinz Holliger. In it, Carter arranged the musical players into three groups – piano, French horn and a trio of woodwinds – to “heighten the dialectic interplay between the instruments”. Each group is assigned its own type of expressivity and character, whereby the kaleidoscopic interplay between “commentary, answer, humorous denial, ironic, supportive or self-effacing” shapes the breathtaking musical event.