Larsen’s own playing is not only a window to the composer’s artistry, but also his intentions towards interpretation. His extensive performing career has drawn much acclaim for contrasts of brilliance and subtlety as eyewitness accounts reveal:
Vincent Bradley, OBE from the BBC, was moved to this degree: “Larsen gave a really dazzling performance and I was so impressed that I sought him out at the end of the concert to congratulate him on one of the most impressive performances I had ever heard in over 40 years of concert-going”. Citing by BBC Radio “his recording is a sample of Carter Larsen’s versatility and complete mastery in every way.”
In contrast, journalist Jean Cossetto from Switzerland writes, “the abandon and depth of feeling was such that he carried the audience far into another world and bewitched the listeners with his inspiration, ease and brilliance.”
Pianist A.K. Meler, who worked extensively as his assistant, gives this account: “Mesmerizing” is how I would describe the first time I heard Carter Larsen perform his own work in concert. There was magic in the way he played — not just the brilliance of his virtuosity — but the passion and total immersion he conveys in his music. Working with the composer has been both rewarding and challenging. Carter continues to extend his boundaries, exploring new musical territories. The results are amazing. The scope of emotion that we feel from his music is both immediate and eternal.”
A quality that is nearly always present in Larsen is his melodic line. Hanno Rinke, Deutsche Grammophon describes the composer as a “lyric musician with a big tone and power with excellent phrasing and technique”. Whether born from his love of opera, or popular music or whether from an innate sense of melody, Larsen always requires the performer to seek out a cantabile and revert to a Bel Canto in singing passages. Many musicians and music lovers alike feel this combination of Bel Canto mixed with strong and unusual rhythms is the heart of the character of Larsen’s Fantasia Suite.
An article from Germany’s Der Bund, reveals that “Larsen’s pianistic technique is so highly developed that he succeeds with brilliance, and also illustrates all of the desirable lightness and subtleties of sound. This ability enables him to take passagework discreetly into the background incorporating it organically into the structure while bringing to light the musical essentials such as the harmonic scene and any hidden melodic context or unusual charm of tone, which signifies genuinely felt performances associated with nobility.”