I'll admit to having a phobia about new Elliott Carter works. While some of them prove to be worthy, it takes considerable effort to assimilate the music. This places Carter on the Cecil Taylor/Anthony Braxton end of the art/entertainment spectrum. In the case of What's Next?, I have seen the CD but haven't yet had the courage to take it on. Even after reading a review on Bagatallen and his comments on assessing the performance, I'm doubtful:
In discussing the performance of a work as obviously difficult as What Next? I want to stress that I have not seen the score, and, even if I had one handy, would need to take a tremendous amount of time and trouble before I could comfortably make any assertions regarding accuracy. Anyone can hear, however, the beauty of tone of both singers and instrumentalists as well as the apparent effortlessness of the production.
And yet, Bagatallen on the composer:
Carter has always been an intellectual’s intellectual, ever refining his page-long algorithms, consistently offering layer upon layer of meaning for those interested in diving deep. Even so, he has never sacrificed the beautiful to the lesser divinities of the intricate or the cerebral. His priorities have invariably been flawless. As a result, Elliott Carter of the most prolific creators of profoundly beautiful art—not only of our time, but of any time.
Update: Forgot the "?" in the title. I blame it all on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.