Variations on America

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
These Variations on America consist not just of Charles Ives' famous piece of that title "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" -- the same melody as the British and other national hymns, as well as "Heil dir im Siegenkranz," the German liner notes helpfully explain but also of varieties of American organ music in general. British organist Iain Quinn even programs some pieces that have never been recorded in the U.S., to say nothing of Britain, and they include some very nice finds. Chief among these is the pair of fugues by Ives, written while he was a student at Yale University. They're basically academic exercises, but there are hints of a tweaking spirit in both of them. Another ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
These Variations on America consist not just of Charles Ives' famous piece of that title "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" -- the same melody as the British and other national hymns, as well as "Heil dir im Siegenkranz," the German liner notes helpfully explain but also of varieties of American organ music in general. British organist Iain Quinn even programs some pieces that have never been recorded in the U.S., to say nothing of Britain, and they include some very nice finds. Chief among these is the pair of fugues by Ives, written while he was a student at Yale University. They're basically academic exercises, but there are hints of a tweaking spirit in both of them. Another student exercise is the ambitious, uncharacteristically chromatic "Prelude and Fugue" of Samuel Barber, composed in 1927. Barber's nifty setting of The Sacred Harp tune "Wondrous Love, Op. 34," alluding to the parallel harmonies of the American folk hymn style from which the melody comes, has been recorded before but not often, and the same is true of William Grant Still's "Reverie" 1962. Other premieres include works by Henry Cowell and Stephen Paulus, who are often-programmed composers, but not well known for their organ music. The more famous pieces on the program are given a fresh twist due partly to the environs of Coventry Cathedral, a space whose acoustic subtleties are matched by few in the U.S. This is, as Quinn points out in his concise and helpful notes in English, French, and German, especially impressive in the case of Copland's "Preamble For a Solemn Occasion," written in 1949 to honor the first anniversary of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The Ives "Variations on America" themselves, first improvised by the composer as an obstreperous teenager, are presented here in their final version; Ives added ad libitum interludes in 1910, with bitonal elements, and continued to revise the piece even after he had given up composing. Quinn is not prevented by any British propriety from appreciating the piece's humorous aspects. More characteristic of Ives' mature idiom is the 1898 setting of "Adeste Fidelis, S. 131," which Ives also later revised. The opening strains piece contains an early example of the cosmic, transcendental elements in his musical language, and they, too, come alive in mysterious, muted colors here, as if they came from Messiaen. An enjoyable program that fans of organ music and American composition will equally enjoy.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/26/2009
  • Label: Chandos
  • UPC: 095115148921
  • Catalog Number: 10489

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Preamble for a Solemn Occasion, for speaker & orchestra (also arr. for organ 1953) - Aaron Copland & Iain Quinn (5:37)
  2. 2 Variations on "America," for organ, S. 140 (K. 3D5) - Charles Ives & Iain Quinn (8:56)
  3. 3 "Adeste Fideles" in an Organ Prelude, for organ, S. 131 (K. 3D19) - Charles Ives & Iain Quinn (4:14)
  4. 4 Fugue, for organ in E-flat major, S. 136 (K. 3D15) - Charles Ives & Iain Quinn (5:08)
  5. 5 Fugue, for organ in C minor, S. 135 (K. 3D14) - Charles Ives & Iain Quinn (3:35)
  6. 6 Hymn and Fuguing Tune No. 14 for organ, HC 900 - Henry Cowell & Iain Quinn (7:21)
  7. 7 Reverie, for organ - William Grant Still & Iain Quinn (4:43)
  8. 8–9 Prelude and Fugue in B minor, for organ - Samuel Barber & Iain Quinn (8:27)
  9. 9 Variations on the Shape-note Hymn "Wondrous Love", for organ - Samuel Barber & Iain Quinn (8:29)
  10. 11–13 Triptych, for organ - Stephen Paulus & Iain Quinn (14:40)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Iain Quinn Primary Artist
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