First published in the Guardian on 14 April, 2017
Ensemble Intercontemporain/ Pintscher (Alpha)
What does New York sound like? This double-disc collection charts the city’s past century of modern classical music, taking in composers born there (Carter, Feldman, Reich) and composers who made it their home (Varese and Cage plus recent works by David Fulmer and Sean Shepherd). Matthias Pintsher is himself a German composer/conductor who lives in New York and flits across the Atlantic to direct the illustrious Paris-based Ensemble Intercontemporain; the performances he gets from them are virtuosic, rich, detailed, sober. I yearned for a bit more romp in the shrieks and rituals of Varese’s Integrales from 1925; more ensemble clatter in Elliott Carter’s Clarinet Concerto (the solo part is tackled superbly by Jerome Comte). Inevitably a seven-piece survey will have big repertoire gaps — conspicuously missing is the cheery and too-popular-for-Pintscher brand of post-minimalism championed by the Bang on the Can collective. Depressing, too, to see yet another music history narrative told without a single woman’s voice in the mix.