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Charles Ives: Universe Symphony (Realized by Johnny Reinhard)

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
"In case I don't get to finishing this," composer Charles Ives once wrote about his "Universe Symphony," "somebody might like try to work out the idea." Judging from the scant number of original score pages that exist in Ives' hand relating to this work, sprinkled with hundreds of mostly illegible comments in what Ives' called his "snake tracks," just a generation ago it wouldn't have seemed conceivable to assemble a true performing edition of the "Universe" fully representing Ives' intentions. Larry Austin delivered a realization in the early '90s on which he had worked some 30 years, yielding barely more than a half an hour of music. Johnny Reinhard's edition ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
"In case I don't get to finishing this," composer Charles Ives once wrote about his "Universe Symphony," "somebody might like try to work out the idea." Judging from the scant number of original score pages that exist in Ives' hand relating to this work, sprinkled with hundreds of mostly illegible comments in what Ives' called his "snake tracks," just a generation ago it wouldn't have seemed conceivable to assemble a true performing edition of the "Universe" fully representing Ives' intentions. Larry Austin delivered a realization in the early '90s on which he had worked some 30 years, yielding barely more than a half an hour of music. Johnny Reinhard's edition followed in 1996, in which Ives' "Life Pulse Prelude," a section of the "Universe" scored for percussion only, is nearly as long as the whole of Austin's realization owing to its slow tempo mark. Reinhard's realization remains controversial; some commentators have observed that it "doesn't sound like Ives." Ives, though, makes it clear in his writings that the "Universe" was not in any way like his other works, and Reinhard claims that the information contained in Ives' snake tracks was sufficient to raise the whole of this 65-minute structure without additional padding. Whatever the controversy, this is the first recording of the "Universe Symphony" that seems to impart something of the flavor of the piece as Ives' described it in his non-musical writings. The sound quality of this recording is great; produced by Mike Thorne -- he who brought us Wire and XTC back in the '70s. Not beholden to the average classical producer's dictum that the sound of the hall is the most desirable frame for the music, Thorne brings a pop producer's sense of expediency to this project, with extraordinary results. Only 19 musicians cover the 77 parts in Ives' score, with the rest achieved through overdubbing, but the performance sounds integral rather than as a composite, and redistributes the various parts effectively throughout the sonic plane. One is thankful that all of the parts are clearly heard and well played, something that was not the case in the earlier Gerhard Samuel recording of the Austin version, all but inaudible for its first five minutes. More than 90 years after it was initiated, Ives' "Universe Symphony" continues to expand, much like the universe itself. Musically this will prove challenging even to hardcore fanciers of the most difficult contemporary music, but that is the way it should be. Percussion fanciers will love the "Life Pulse Prelude," as the instruments are recorded so very well and are separated spatially. It is hoped that Ivesians will embrace this, but even if they don't, it seems a wholly responsible and successful realization of Ives' ideas, represented in terrific sound, and those brave enough to take it on will find this uniquely twenty-first century music a highly rewarding, and universal, experience.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/8/2007
  • Label: Pitch
  • UPC: 837101048521
  • Catalog Number: 7
  • Sales rank: 86,901

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–7 Universe Symphony, for large orchestra divided in to smaller ensembles & percussion (Reinhard edition), S. 6 (K. 1A9) - Charles Ives & American Festival of Microtonal Music Orchestra (64:26)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Johnny Reinhard Primary Artist
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