|Musicians from the New York Philharmonic; Either/Or; Either/Or and Ensemble Son; Hotel Elefant; DZ4 Wind Quartet; String Orchestra of Brooklyn;
Toomai String Quintet; Richard Carrick, piano, conductor
A special feature of Richard Carrick's (b. 1971) music has always been his fascination with creating spatial depth and dimension through subtly balanced orchestration and dynamics. Constantly in development, these qualities are salient in a new crop of pieces from 2012 through 2014, filtered through an increasing attraction to the power of rich, robust stasis, rhythmic ambiguity, and the plasticity of motivic ideas. Of the six works on this disc, the first five comprise a new cycle of compositions - Cycles of Evolution. This set of works was conceived in the vein of Carrick's earlier Flow Cycle, but never intended to be a sequel, or even a continuation of those ideas. Where Flow Cycle uses a limited color palette and is cast in solo and chamber form, climaxing in a trio, Cycles of Evolution employs the lush, expansive rainbow of colors offered by large ensembles with conductor.
Outside of Cycles of Evolution sits the final work on this disc, a four-movement set of Adagios for String Orchestra. Organized almost as a compendium of varieties of Adagios (even showing different types within single movements), Carrick distills the essence of an adagio to "a single movement, emotional response to an event." The event in question here is the death of the composer's father, which is treated in turn with music that evokes distress, anger, release, and comfort.
Certain composers display surface gestures that define them without a doubt within the first few moments of hearing a piece. Not so with Richard Carrick. The uniquely defining aspects of Carrick's music lie deep in the structure. It's the way we perceive melody and form, the systematic and ruthless exploration of intervals, and the way that passing time effects our understanding of a gesture even as we are hearing it, that moves us in ways that are as difficult to define as the melodic role in any instant. It's music that requires our attention, but the rewards far outstrip the efforts.