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Charles IVES (1874–1954)
Songs - Vol. 6
Tarrant Moss (1902) [0:34]; There is a Certain
Garden (1897) [1:48]; There is a Lane (1902) [1:11]; They Are There!
(1942) [2:49]; The Things our Fathers Loved (and the greatest of
these was Liberty) (1917) [1:33]; Thoreau (1915) [2:25]; Those Evening
Bells (1907) [1:37]; Through Night and Day (1897) [2:30]; To Edith
(1919) [1:33]; Tolerance (1913) [0:57]; Tom Sails Away (1917) [2:43];
Ein Ton (1900) [1:25]; Two Little Flowers (1921) [1:30]; Two Slants
(Christian and Pagan) (1921) [1:44]; Vote for Names! Names! Names!
(1912) [0:53]; The Waiting Soul (1908) [2:38]; Walking (1900) [2:44];
Walt Whitman (1921) [1:02]; Waltz (1894) [1:32]; Watchman! (1913)
[1:54]; Weil auf Mir (1902) [1:43]; West London (1921) [3:10]; When
Stars are in the Quiet Skies (1898) [3:03]; Where the Eagle Cannot
See (1906) [2:00]; The White Gulls (1921) [2:50]; Widmung (1899)
[2:11]; Wie Melodien Zieht es Mir (1899) [p2:56]; Wiegenlied (1906)
[2:28]; William Will (1896) [4:06]; The World’s Highway (1906) [2:52];
The World’s Wanderers (1898) [1:53]; Yellow Leaves (1923) [1:28]
Lielle Berman, Jennifer Casey Cabot, Sara Jakubiak, Sumi Kittelberger
(sopranos); Amanda Ingram, Tamara Mumford, Mary Phillips, Rebecca
Ringle, Leah Wool (mezzos); Ryan MacPherson, Matthew Plenk, Kenneth
Tarver (tenors); Daniel Trevor Bircher, Patrick Carfizzi, Michael
Cavalieri, Robert Gardner, Diego Matamoros (baritones); David Pittsinger
(bass); Douglas Dickson, Laura Garritson, J J Penna, Eric Trudel
rec. May-June 2005, Sprague Hall, Yale University,
New Haven, USA, DDD
NAXOS 8.559274 [65:48]
Apart from the French-Canadian Claude Vivier, no other composer
seems to separate the listening public into the ‘hate him’/‘love
him’ camps than Charles Ives. He is seen by some as a bungling
amateur who had no idea of what he was doing. He is understood
by many as the first real American composer, the first true voice
of the American vernacular. Ives’ music can still shock an audience
and raise passionate debate amongst music-lovers. Despite living
to a grand old age, and seeing his music start to gain an audience,
Ives wrote little after 1918. True he tinkered with pieces, left
sketches for a Piano Concerto – the Emerson Concerto, which was reconstructed David G Porter –
and considered a Universe Symphony which would be all embracing
in its intent and purpose, but the majority of his work after
the war was vocal; the simple song for voice and piano.
not sure how many songs Ives wrote during his career but the
six disks so far issued by Naxos comprise some 191
songs. This collection is as interesting and varied as it could
be, ranging from the naïve simplicity of Two Little Flowers
to the forthright, but somewhat ribald, They are There!
- Ives’ own contribution to the war effort. One of the confusing
things about the songs is the bewildering variety of styles
in which they are written. It seems to me that he simply wrote
in whatever style he thought best fitted the text he had chosen.
When he wrote his own words I am sure that the accompanying
music sprang alongside the words. This still leaves us confused
at the sometimes drawing room ballad style of some of the songs
when heard against his more philosophical and complex ones.
collection concentrates on the more straightforward songs but
contains some wonderful surprises – Walking was the first
Ives song I ever heard. It still has the power to shock. Starting
as a simple song, when the tempo increases the singer gives
a, spoken, commentary on the events and sights before him. It’s
a marvelous piece of work which never does what you think it
might. They Are There! uses unison voices, and piccolo
obbligato, and is a passionate war song. Tom Sails Away
tells of a family parting in the First World War. We also hear
some of his philosophical works – Thoreau, after a spoken
introduction, is all contemplation, and his setting of Matthew
Arnold, West London - a vision of a growing society.
There are the lighter songs, one dedicated to his adoptive daughter,
and the very strange Tarrant Moss which sets words by
Kipling. However, as copyright permission was refused Ives wrote
his own verse and published it under the title Slugging a
Vampire! This is Ives at his most perverse. The version
recorded here uses the original Kipling words.
there’s nothing on this disk of the stature of From
the Incantation (1921), On the
Antipodes (1915/1923) or the astonishing General William
Booth Enters Into Heaven (1914) this is an interesting collection
of much less well known Ives vocal works. The use of several
different singers makes for a really interesting set. They are
all very good, with controlled voices, no wobble and vibrato
held to a minimum.
the years there have been many recordings of handfuls of these
songs, from Fischer–Dieskau, Marni Nixon and Jan DeGaetani,
but this is part of a complete sequence of the songs and it should
be in every collection. The recording is excellent, in good sound
and the balance between voice and piano is exemplary. Although
Naxos do not accompany the disc with texts for the songs the liner-notes
are helpful and give a good idea of what each piece is about.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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