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Young Ives: Early Choral Music of Charles Ives
     

The Young Ives: Early Choral Music of Charles Ives

by Gregg Smith Singers
 
Legendary American chorus master Gregg Smith is getting on in years and, in a way, his calling card in the six decades his eponymous chorus has graced the world's concert stage has been his advocacy of the choral music of Charles Ives. Smith's 1966 CBS album Charles Ives: Music for Chorus and its lesser-known but no less important follow-up New Music of

Overview

Legendary American chorus master Gregg Smith is getting on in years and, in a way, his calling card in the six decades his eponymous chorus has graced the world's concert stage has been his advocacy of the choral music of Charles Ives. Smith's 1966 CBS album Charles Ives: Music for Chorus and its lesser-known but no less important follow-up New Music of Charles Ives (1970) exposed repertoire that few had any idea existed for Ives, postulating Ives' technically assured, conventional music alongside the more experimental fare that initially made his name. Based on this, it is easy to see why Smith, in the twilight of his career, would want to revisit the works of Ives once more, and on Newport Classics' The Young Ives: Early Choral Music of Charles Ives, Smith gets the opportunity. Half of the album is recorded anew, and with the exception of "Processional: Let There Be Light," all of the pieces in the newly recorded layer of The Young Ives are works that Smith has not recorded before. Five works included here -- "Lord God, Thy Sea Is Mighty"; "I Come to Thee"; "All-Forgiving, look on me"; "Bread of the World"; and the "Benedictus in E" -- have never been previously recorded commercially under any circumstance. Although grounded firmly in late nineteenth century practices current in American protestant churches in the Gay 'Nineties, these are effective and expressive works, particularly when one considers the milieu in which Ives was working, "owned" by composers as Dudley Buck, Ives' teacher Horatio Parker, and Amy Beach. Ives' music is comparatively plain and does not overtly betray the influence of European composers such as Brahms and Verdi. "Bread of the World" stands out from this group, as it is an eerie, mysterious, and mildly experimental piece a little closer to the style of Ives' contemporaneous Psalm settings and his "Adeste Fideles" in an "Organ Prelude" than the others. The older layer of The Young Ives consists of the Gregg Smith Singers' 1972 recording of Ives' cantata "The Celestial Country," originally included as a disc within the 1974 CBS Records set Charles Ives: The 100th Anniversary. It is taken from the original master tape and sounds so excellent that it is practically indistinguishable from the 2004 recordings that make up the balance of the disc, except that the older recording, made at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University, is a tad brighter than the new one, made at St. Peter's Church in New York. Likewise, the Gregg Smith Singers of an earlier generation sound a little fresher and deliver the music at a bit more uptempo pace, in the older recording. There have been many requests over the years for the return of this excellent performance of "The Celestial Country" to the active catalog, and Newport Classics' The Young Ives has finally made this a reality. In the first decade of the twenty first century, Charles Ives' amply stuffed music cabinet is exhaling its final yawp of material, as the availability of obscurities such as his "Black March for piano" and multiple recordings of the perpetually unfinished "Universe Symphony" make apparent. One can be thankful that Gregg Smith, who has done so much on behalf of Ives already, has had a chance to deliver these last few previously unrecorded shards of Ives' choral music. The only complaint one could have under the circumstance is that Ives' earliest choral work, his setting of Psalm 42 in "As pants the heart for cooling streams," is still not included here and remains yet unavailable.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/13/2007
Label:
Newport Classics
UPC:
0032466567728
catalogNumber:
85677

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Easter Carol (2 versions), for 4 soloists, chorus & organ, S. 166 (K. 5C19)
  2. Turn Ye, Turn Ye, hymn-anthem for chorus & organ, S. 178 (K. 5C11)
  3. Lord God, They Sea Is Mighty, anthem for chorus & organ, S. 174 (K. 5C21)
  4. Crossing the Bar, for chorus & organ, S. 164 (K. 5C7)
  5. I Come to Thee, hymn-anthem for chorus & organ, S. 169 (K. 5C18)
  6. All-Forgiving, look on me, anthem for chorus, S. 156 (K. 5C31)
  7. Bread of the World, anthem for chorus & organ, S. 161 (K. 5C14) (incomplete)
  8. Benedictus, for voice solo, chorus & organ, S. 159 (K. 5C9)
  9. Processional: Let There Be Light (I), for chorus & organ, S. 176/1 (K. 5C38/1)
  10. The Celestial Country, cantata for 2 soloists, 2 vocal quartets, chorus, winds, strings & organ, S. 143 (K. 5A1)

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