Survey of Recordings
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This section includes news items and concert reviews. Items are presented
chronologically, beginning with the most recent.
Recent Recordings and a Notable
Several new recordings have been issued (or will be issued soon) that
should interest most Ives fans, including:
- Gerald Finley's recital of Ives' song with Julius Drake on Hyperion
is superb, one of the best Ives song recitals ever. For more details
about the recording, click here.
- Wagnerian soprano Deborah Voigt has scaled back her operatic voice
and recorded a recital of American songs with pianist Brian Zeger. The
CD, issued by EMI, includes seven songs by Ives. I have not had an opportunity
to hear it yet.
- Johnny Reinhard has recorded his realization of Ives' Universe
Symphony with the American Festival of Microtonal Music Orchestra.
For more details about this fascinating recording, click here.
- The American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble has released a
new recording of Ives' Second String Quartet that features unconventional
tuning. The CD also includes a work by Lou Harrison titled "At
the Tomb of Charles Ives," along with several compositions by other
- Hyperion has recorded all four of Ives' numbered symphonies with Andrew
Litton and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. I understand that they will
be issued sometime in 2006. Hopefully, they will release the recordings
in SACD surround-sound. A piece like Ives' Fourth Symphony cries out
for that sort of technology! (And I know that Hyperion released their
recent set of Rachmaninov piano concerti with Litton and the DSO in
SACD.) So here's hoping.
- In May and June of 2005, Naxos recorded a complete cycle of Ives'
songs (182 of 'em!) at Yale University. Sixteen singers participated,
all of whom are current or past Yale vocal students. Three different
pianists accompanied the singers. Apparently, Naxos plans for a release
of the 4- to 5-CD set in 2006.
- Gregg Smith and the Gregg Smith Singers have newly recorded eleven
of Ives' choral works. They will be issued on the Albany label, and
the disc will also include a reissue of their Columbia recording of
"The Celestial Country." I'm unsure about the issue date.
This is very exciting news, as Smith's interpretations of Ives' choral
music are unsurpassed.
A notable concert for folks who live in San Francisco or New York: On
April 13, 14, and 15, 2006, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas will lead
the San Francisco Symphony in Ives's Holidays Symphony at Davies
Symphony Hall in San Francisco. The program also includes Mahler's "Rückert"
Lieder (with Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano) and Webern's Six
Pieces for Orchestra. The same program comes to Carnegie Hall (NYC)
on April 20, 2006.
More New Recordings and Reissues
Several recordings have been released since the last site update. And
some others have been out for a while, but they are "new to me":
- Marc-Andre Hamelin has released a new recording of Ives' Concord Sonata--
his second traversal of the work--on the Hyperion label. It is sublime.
If you're even mildly interested in Ives' music, you need to
hear it. It's that good. For a complete review, click here.
- In 2002 Italian pianst Roberto Ramadori recorded the "Concord"
and released it on the Symposion label. I recently had the chance to
hear it. His performance is unusual, characterized by extremely
deliberate tempos. But I found it to be a convincing, if highly personal
interpretation. For additional details, click here.
- The Dale Warland Singers have released a CD titled "Reincarnations"
(Gothic G 49239) featuring Ives' setting of Psalm 90. It's the best
performance of this work available on CD. (And the other works by contemporary
composers are excellent too.) For a mini-review, click here.
- The Naxos label has re-issued a collection of Ives recordings by the
Continuum Ensemble originally released by the Musical Heritage Society.
The recording features leaders/pianists Joel Sachs and Cheryl Seltzer
and includes the following works with various instrumental and vocal
ensembles: "The Housatonic at Stockbridge"; "Soliloquy,
or a Study in 7ths and Other Things"; "On the Antipodes";
"The Gong on the Hook and Ladder" (original version); "Hallowe’en";
"In Re Con Moto et al"; "Sunrise"; "Remembrance";
"Aeschylus and Sophocles"; Five Take-offs; and Three Quarter-Tone
- In January 2005, Oehms released a live recording featuring James Levine
from his tenure with the Munich Philharmonic. He conducts Ives Second
Symphony, along with Gershwin's Cuban Overture and the Third
Symphony by John Harbison (Oehms 507).
- Donald Berman has released "Unknown Ives, Volume 2," recordings
of Ives' lesser-known piano works (New World 80618).
- Conductor Joseph Flummerfelt and the Westminster Choir have released
a choral disc that includes Ives setting of Psalm 90 (Avie 46). The
disc also includes a variety of other choral works by 20th century composers.
- In February, the Pro Organo label released a disc titled "Organa America"
(Pro Organo 7196) featuring organists Tom Trenney. The recording focuses
on a variety of American compositions, including Ives' Variations
- Violinist Jasper Wood and pianist David Riley have released a CD titled
"Ives: Works For Violin And Piano" (Endeavour Classics 1012). It includes
the Second and Third Violin Sonatas and various other short works for
violin and piano.
New Books Related to Ives
Some new books related to Ives and his music:
- In his new book Mavericks and Other Traditions in American Music
(Yale UP) author Michael Broyles makes the case that being a "maverick"
is--ironically--a tradition in American music. As you might expect,
there's quite a bit of content related to CEI.
- In August, Scarecrow Press is releasing Baseball and the Music
of Charles Ives: A Proving Ground by Timothy A Johnson. An eye-catching
title, for sure.
- Picador Press has released The Amount to Carry: Stories by
Carter Scholz in paperback. I've not got around to reading this yet,
but I've heard that these are wonderful stories. In the story that gives
the volume its title, Ives has an imaginary meeting with two other famous
insurance men: Franz Kafka and Wallace Stevens!
New Recordings and Reissues
Some new recordings and reissues:
- Last month, Pierre-Laurent Aimard and Susan Graham released their
much-anticipated (to me, at least!) CD featuring songs and the "Concord"
Sonata (Warner Classics 2564602972). For a review of the songs, click
here. For a review of the "Concord"
Sonata, click here.
- Naxos continues its series of Ives recordings with the "Concord"
Sonata performed by Stephen Mayer (Naxos 8559127). The disc also includes
the "Varied Air and Variations," "The Celestial Railroad,"
and the "Emerson Improvisations."
- Back in January, the Col Legno label released a disc featuring Larry
Austin's realization of Ives' "Universe" Symphony, along with
the Second Symphony, performed by Michael Stern and the Saarbrucken
RSO (Col Legno WWE1CD20074). It is available in the U.K. I'm not sure
about the U.S.A.
- Sony Classical U.K. is re-issuing Leonard Bernstein's Columbia Ives
recordings on its "Masterworks Extended Editions" line. It's
a two-disc set (Sony 5160232) that includes Symphonies 2 and 3, the
"Holidays" Symphony, the "Two Contemplations" and
Lenny's lecture on Ives. If you're reading this, you've probably heard
these recordings already. They're definitely "classics."
- The Beaux Arts Trio's recording of Ives' Piano Trio has been reissued
as a part of Decca's "Original Masters" series (Decca 4751712).
The CEI work is part of a four-disc set featuring recordings made by
the trio between 1967 and 1974. Other composers included in the set:
Mendelssohn, Schumann (Robert and Clara), Chopin, Tchaikovsky,
Smetana, and Shostakovich. August company, no? Sadly, this is a limited
edition release, so you'll have to jump on it quick if you'd like to
hear it.. (I've never heard their version.)
Charles Ives: 50 Years Since
May 19, 2004 was the fiftieth anniversary of Ives' death. As you might
expect, there wasn't much notice in the mainstream media--or even in the
music media. A couple notable exceptions:
- National Public Radio marked May 19th with a fitting tribute to Ives
on its "Morning Edition" program. It was produced by Ives'
biographer Jan Swafford.
- During the month of May, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra celebrated
Ives' legacy with a "mini-festival" in his honor. From all
accounts that I've heard, the performances were fantastic. Unfortunately,
I couldn't attend any of the concerts myself. (Argh!!)
- The June 2004 issue of BBC Music Magazine features Ives as
"Composer of the Month." (I assume that this has something
to do with the year 2004 being the 50th anniversary of Ives' passing
and the 130th anniversary of his birth.) It's a good story about Ives
and his life, though I hoped that an Ives recording might be featured
on the disc that comes with the mag. No such luck. It was Richard Strauss
instead. Oh well.
Ives to be subject of Juilliard's
Focus! Festival in 2004
The Juilliard School in New York, NY will be hosting a six-concert music
festival dedicated to the music Charles Ives in late January 2004. Details
about dates and works to be performed appear below:
- January 23, 2004
New Juilliard Ensemble / Joel Sachs, conductor
Four Ragtime Dances,
Orchestral Set No. 1: Three Places in New England (chamber orchestra
Selected songs with chamber orchestra,
Symphony No. 3
- January 26-29, 2004
Four chamber music concerts, to include:
Piano Sonata No. 1, Concord,
String Quartets Nos. 1 and 2,
Violin Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3,
Three Quarter-Tone Pieces for two pianos,
Largo for clarinet, violin and piano,
Scherzo: Over the Pavements
- January 30, 2004
Juilliard Orchestra / Anne Manson, conductor; Juilliard Choral Union
/ Judith Clurman, conductor
Symphony No. 4
And, all of the concerts are FREE! For more information, go to: http://www.juilliard.edu
or the Live Performances page of this
Emerson Concerto Premiere Recording
Naxos has released the premiere recording of Emerson Concerto, an original
Ives composition that has been reconstructed / realized by Ives scholar
David Porter. James Sinclair conducts the performance by the National
Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. The disc also includes the Symphony No.
1, using a new edition of the score prepared by Sinclair. This is an exciting
disc, and the Emerson Concerto a major "new" work. A reason
for Ives fans to rejoice!
"Responses to Charles Ives"
Event Planned for 2004-2005
In commemoration of the 50th year since Ives's death, pianist Heather
O'Donnell has organized a project ("Responses to Charles Ives")
to commission seven composers to write a piano work reflecting on Ives's
influence on their own musical thought. The following composers will compose
a piano piece for this project:
- Michael Finnissy (England)
- Frederic Rzewski (U.S./Belgium)
- George Flynn (U.S.)
- James Tenney (Canada)
- Walter Zimmermann (Germany)
- Oliver Schneller (Germany)
- Sidney Corbett (U.S.)
The program will be premiered in Berlin at MaerzMusik on March 21st 2004,
and continue throughout the 2004-05 season. The program will consist of
the commissioned works, interspersed with Ives’s own piano works--either
the First or Second Sonatas, or a collection of shorter Ives pieces including
the Celestial Railroad, Studies, and Waltz-Rondo. This program will be
offered to festivals and concert venues throughout the United States and
Europe, and a CD recording will be made of the commissioned works and
Ives shorter piano works by Mode Records (to be released in summer 2004).
For more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Ives Day Planned
The Danbury Music Centre has provided me with the following information
about the "Charles Ives Day" in Danbury, CT on Sunday, October
Schedule of Events
9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. hike up Pine Mountain
Noon - 2 p.m. lunch at Ives' birthplace, a tour of his home and a musicological
2 p.m. - 3 p.m. visit to the grave
4 p.m. - 5 p.m. concert at the DMC
The Danbury Music Centre presents another in an annual series of fun
and educational events to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Charles
E. Ives, famous Danbury composer. Join hosts Nancy F. Sudik and Larry
Deming, along with guest musicians and the staff of the Danbury Museum,
in a day devoted to the music and life of Charles E. Ives. This year's
theme is "hymns." The day will begin with the popular hike up Pine Mountain
and will be followed by a tour of his birthplace, a visit to his grave,
and conclude with a concert at the Danbury Music Centre. As in previous
years, participants can choose some or all activites. Pre-registration
is required for everything except the concert. Make your reservations
by Thursday, October 16, by calling Nancy at the Danbury Music Centre
Aimard to Record the "Concord"
and Accompany Graham on Songs
Warner Classics recently announced that acclaimed pianist Pierre-Laurent
Aimard and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham will be recording works by Charles
Ives. Reportedly, the recording will take place in November 2003. Aimard
will record the Piano Sonata No. 2, "Concord," and he will also
accompany Graham in a selection of Ives' songs. Hopefully, this will be
one of many high-profile Ives releases to take place in 2004, since the
year will be the 130th anniversary of Ives' birth and the 50th anniversary
of his passing.
New Recording of Ives' Choral
Music on Linn
The Linn label has recently released a CD featuring Ives' choral work
"The Celestial Country." The music is performed by St Olaf's
Choir & Chamber Ensemble, conducted by Anton Armstrong. Featured soloists
are Dan Dressen, tenor; Michael Jorgenson, baritone; and Martha Hartaria,
mezzo soprano (Linn CKD203). To the best of my knowledge, this is the
only version of this work that is currently available on CD. Review coming
Naxos releases Ives'
Violin Sonatas disc
Violinist Curt Thompson and pianist Rodney Waters recently released a
new recording of Ives' violin sonatas Nos. 1 through 4 on Naxos (8.559119).
A review is coming soon.
Sinclair Records Symphony
No. 3, "Washington's Birthday," and Other Short Works for Naxos
Ives scholar and conductor James Sinclair has commenced his series of
Ives orchestral works for Naxos with the a wonderful recording of Ives'
Third Symphony and other works. Very much like his stunning recording
of Ives' works for the Koch label ("The Orchestral Music of Charles
Ives," Koch 3-7025-2), this effort shows Sinclair to be a master
of Ives' idiom. Sinclair's interpretation of the Third
Symphony is a bit on the cool side. I find it a shade less fervent
one might imagine. (The recording is somewhat cool as well.) But Sinclair
brings out so much detail and nuance that other conductors pass right
by. This is one of the best recordings that this work has ever received.
As good as it is, "Washington's Birthday"
is even better. The interpretation is incredibly atmospheric, and the
icy, desolate cold of a New England winter comes across beautifully. To
my ears, this even manages to surpass Tilson Thomas' recording of the
same work for Columbia / Sony (Sony Classical MK 42381). I only wish that
I could hear the other three movements of the "Holidays Symphony"
on the same disc--though I expect that Sinclair will be recording these
movements with a larger orchestra. The other, shorter works are masterful
also, with Sinclair's versions of "The
Unanswered Question" and "Central
Park in the Dark" (with a delightfully out-of-tune piano) going
right to the top of my recommendation list.
Two More Reissues
Two new reissues worth checking out:
- Sony is reissuing it's wonderful recordings of Ives' string quartets
by Juilliard String Quartet (Sony Essential Classics SBK 87967, available
in the U.K.). These recordings are my favorite versions of the string
quartets. And I don't think that they've ever been issued on CD before.
Outstanding! On the other hand, Sony didn't quite hit the bullseye.
They coupled the string quartets with Ormandy's "Three Places in
New England." Sure, this is another excellent recording, but they
have already reissued this on another Essential Classics release. Argh!
Why not include some of the unissued Ives recordings that they have
in their vaults?! The disc also includes Ormandy's Variations on "America,"
which has also been reissued on another Essential Classics disc.
Oh well. You may already have the Ormandy recordings, but the string
quartets make this disc a must-buy.
- Warner is re-releasing Alexei Lubimov's recording of the "Concord"
Sonata on its budget Apex label (Warner Apex 0927495152). I've never
heard this recording, but I've got it on order. I'll give a review shortly.
Ives Resources Newly Available
on the Web
If you're doing research on Charles Ives (or if you're just curious),
Yale University Library has recently made several CEI-related resources
available via the web, including:
- A Descriptive Catalogue of The Music of Charles Ives by James
Sinclair (newly updated)
[This is a mother-lode of detailed information about Ives' works. If
you're looking for detailed information, begin here.]
- Register to The Charles Ives Papers by Vivian Perlis
- The John Kirkpatrick Papers by James Sinclair
To access the information, go to http://webtext.library.yale.edu/
and enter "Ives" in the search field.
NYPO Schedules Ives "Mini-Festival"
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ives passing, and the 130th anniversary
of his birth, the New York Philharmonic has programmed a series of five
concerts featuring works by CEI to take place in May 2004. Highlights
of the "mini-festival" include the Fourth Symphony conducted
by Alan Gilbert, Three Places in New England conducted by Lorin
Maazel, and a concert of songs featuring Audra McDonald and conducted
by John Adams. For more details, go to the New
York Philharmonic website or to my Live
New Ives Recordings &
Several new Ives recordings and reissues have come out since I last updated
the site. Most notably:
- Pianst Philip Mead has released a two-disc set of Ives' piano music
on the Metier label (available in the U.K.) The set includes the First
Piano Sonata, Second
Piano Sonata, and other short works.
(Click on the links for details and capsule reviews.)
- Pianst James Nalley has released a recording of Ives' First Sonata
on the Eroica label, coupled with Copland's Piano Sonata. (Click here
for details and a capsule review.)
- The Leipzig Quartet has released a disc titled "Ives: The Complete
Music for String Quartet" on MD&G (Dabringhaus & Grimm) Gold label
(MDG 3071143). Works included: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2, Largo
risoluto Nos. 1 & 2, A Set of Short Pieces, and Hallowe'en for
String Quartet and Piano.
- The Sony label has reissued their Michael Tilson Thomas' Ives recordings
with the Chicago SO and Concertgebouw Orchestra in a budget, three-disc
set (Sony Essential Classics SB3K87746). Apparently, it's available
in the U.K. only. The set includes: Symphonies 1 through 4, The Holidays
Symphony, Central Park in the Dark, and The Unanswered
Question (both versions). Clearly this is a fantastic deal for anyone
who doesn't already own these recordings, but I wonder why Sony didn't
see fit to include MTT's tremendous reading of the Second Orchestral
Set (which is by far the best recording of the work). Oh well. I shouldn't
complain. At less than $25 (via an internet retailer), this set is a
no-brainer any way you look at it.
- The Chandos label has reissued the First and Second Symphonies from
conductor Neeme Järvi and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on single disc
(Chandos 10031). These recordings were formerly available on two separate
discs, coupled with works by other composers.
James Sinclair recording Ives'
works for Naxos
In February 2003 budget label Naxos is set to release a new recording
of Ives' compositions. The disc features conductor and Ives scholar James
Sinclair with the Northern Sinfonia (an orchestra based in Newcastle,
U.K.). Works included on the disc are Symphony No. 3, "Washington's
Birthday," "The Unanswered Question," "Central Park
in the Dark," and other short pieces. Look for a review shortly.
Sinclair has also recorded a second disc for Naxos. This recording includes
David Porter's reconstruction of the Emerson Concerto and a newly-revised
version of Symphony No. 1. The works were recorded with the National Symphony
of Ireland. This recording is also planned for release in 2003.