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Ives: Concord Sonata, Songs
     

Ives: Concord Sonata, Songs

4.0 1
by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Susan Graham
 
Those who think they don't like Ives should hear Susan Graham sing his songs, for rarely have they been sung with such warmth and sweetness. Indeed, some Ives aficionados may find that she sings them too sweetly. But, in fact, Graham does a fine job of balancing Ives's sentimentality and radicalism: Listen to her ethereal

Overview

Those who think they don't like Ives should hear Susan Graham sing his songs, for rarely have they been sung with such warmth and sweetness. Indeed, some Ives aficionados may find that she sings them too sweetly. But, in fact, Graham does a fine job of balancing Ives's sentimentality and radicalism: Listen to her ethereal performance of "The Housatonic at Stockbridge," for example, then prepare yourself for the aggressive muscularity of "The Swimmers," which follows. Graham and French pianist extraordinaire Pierre-Laurent Aimard present 17 of Ives's 100-odd songs, providing a good cross-section of their moods and styles and including some of the best-known ones. The remainder of the disc is given over to Ives's epic piano sonata inspired by the 19th-century writers based around Concord, Massachusetts: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May), and Henry David Thoreau. Aimard's approach to this dense yet transcendental score is somewhat Eurocentric; in other words, he is more intense than exuberant and is firmer in his adherence to the notated rhythms than, say, Marc-André Hamelin, Robert Shannon, or Easley Blackwood, who all play with more improvisatory looseness. Yet, this is a work that is open to a wide range of interpretive styles, and Aimard's focus, not to mention the astounding clarity of his playing, makes this CD essential listening for anyone interested in 20th-century American music. Sad to say, there are currently only a handful of recordings available of this seminal sonata, so one welcomes this distinguished new version with gratitude as well as with enthusiasm.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Uncle Dave Lewis
This selection of 17 Charles Ives' songs are not done too badly here, nor are they the best on record. The faster-tempo songs such as "Ann Street," "Memories," and "1, 2, 3" are a bit limpid and underpowered in Graham's reading, and it sounds like pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard gets his fingers stuck in the keys here and there. But the softer, slower pieces such as "A Farewell to Land" and "The Things Our Fathers Loved" are pretty good. Older singers such as Helen Boatwright and the late Jan de Gaetani have set the bar very high for sopranos in this literature; theirs is a tough act to follow. Yet if you are not familiar with the Ives songs, this is a pretty good selection with which to start. But the main focus of this package is Pierre-Laurent Aimard's reading of Ives' "Sonata No. 2: Concord, Mass., 1840-60." Aimard's recording is clearly the one of choice for those who have heard the "Concord" and can't figure out what makes it the "Great American Piano Sonata." Aimard delivers a dreamy, crystalline performance of the "Concord" with most of its explosive passages subsumed to the requirements of the work as a whole; a very "French" and eminently listenable reading of the "Concord"; one also appreciates the employment here of Ives' seldom-used added instrumental parts to the work. While a bit more pond scum and murkiness is preferable in his "Concord," but don't let that discourage the listener from enjoying this recording, especially if the listener is new to the sometimes rather difficult music of Ives.
Gramophone
A splendid addition to the Ives discography and a fine tribute 50 years after his death from two superlative musicians.
BBC Online - Andrew McGregor
Pierre-Laurent Aimard [is] a pianist who revels in Ives's ideas and who's equal to the almost insane physical demands of the 'Concord' Sonata.... A strongly recommendable disc.... Intelligent programming, breathtaking performances, and a crystal clear recording.

Product Details

Release Date:
05/11/2004
Label:
Teldec
UPC:
0825646029723
catalogNumber:
60297

Tracks

  1. The Things Our Fathers Loved, song for voice & piano, S. 372 (K. 6B58)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  2. The Housatonic at Stockbridge, song for voice & piano, S. 266 (K. 6B64d)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  3. Swimmers, song for voice & piano, S. 366 (K. 6B53)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  4. Memories, song for voice & piano, S. 297 (K. 6B26a)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  5. Ann Street, song for voice & piano, S. 211 (K. 6B67)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  6. Serenity, song for voice & piano, S. 347 (K. 6B60d)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  7. 1, 2, 3, song for voice & piano, S. 321 (K. 6B66a)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  8. Songs My Mother Taught Me, song for voice and piano, S. 361 (K. 6B21c)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  9. The Circus Band, song for voice & piano, S. 229 (K. 6B20)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  10. The Cage, song for voice & piano, S. 221 (K. 6B42)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  11. The Indians, song for voice & piano, S. 283 (K. 6B63)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  12. Like a Sick Eagle, song for voice & piano, S. 288 (K. 6B45a)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  13. Remembrance, for voice & piano, S. 332 (K. 6B62a)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  14. September, song for voice & piano, S. 346 (K. 6B61b)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  15. Soliloquy, song for voice & piano, S. 352 (K. 6B43a)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  16. A Farewell to Land, song for voice & piano, S. 248 (K. 6B46)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  17. Thoreau, song for voice & piano, S. 373 (K. 6B52)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Susan Graham
  18. Sonata No. 2: Concord, Mass., 1840-60, for piano (& optional viola, flute), S. 88 (K. 3A2)  - Charles Ives  - Pierre-Laurent Aimard  - Emmanuel Pahud  - Tabea Zimmermann

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Ives: Concord Sonata, Songs 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago