What recordings do you buy and why? What recordings have you listened to recently? Elliott Schwartz

Elliott Schwartz
Photo by Joel Chadabe, courtesy Electronic Music Foundation

As I’m living in England (on resident fellowship at Robinson College, Cambridge University) for the months of May and June, I’ve had a chance to hear some 20th century English music — ranging from the earliest part of the century (Vaughan Williams‘ wonderful song cycle Songs of Travel) to more recent pieces such as Andrew Toovey‘s surreal opera The Juniper Tree, the 2nd Concerto for Orchestra by the wonderfully eclectic Robin Holloway, and a new recording of Libra and Gemini by Roberto Gerhard. I’ve also bought CDs that would have been virtually impossible to find in the states: discs on Scandinavian labels, with pieces such as Sinking Through a Dream Mirror by the Danish collage-quotation artist Karl Aage Rasmussen — and even (on the BIS label) a saxophone quartet by Charles Wuorinen!

In addition, just before I left the USA on May 1st, I had a chance to hear three excellent American recordings: a terrific CD of music by Chen-Yi (recorded for CRI) that I reviewed for the journal “20th Century Music,” a symphony and concerto by Lou Harrison (the concerto for violin, piano and gamelan-like percussion orchestra is a knockout), and a very striking collection of chamber works by Lucky Mosko.