* Set No. 1 for Small Orchestra
* Tone Roads No. 1
* From the Steeples and Mountains
* Tone Roads No. 3
* Set No. 3 for Small Orchestra: "At Sea"
* The Rainbow
* The Gong on the Hook and Ladder
* All the Way Around and Back
* Over the Pavements
* Set No. 2 for Small Orchestra
* Aeschylus and Sophocles
* Set for Theater or Chamber Orchestra
^Marni Nixon (soprano), ^John McCabe (piano)
Henry Herford (baritone), Ensemble Modern/Ingo Metzmacher
EMI 50999 2 06631 2 Total time: 79:34
Summary for the Busy Executive: Great music, lousy program.
In the thirty-odd years of Ives's mature composing career, he turned out
quite a bit, much of it very short pieces, but often in several versions.
Ives loved to revise and very rarely considered anything finished. The
famous song, "The Cage," for example, shows up both as a song and as an
Instrumental versions of the songs comprise most of the "sets." It's
awfully hard to make a song into an instrumental, and Ives doesn't succeed
all that often here, in the sense that the song versions are far more
interesting than their instrumental clones. Unfortunately, I know these
movements as songs. Gregg Smith and his singers recorded them in a
wonderful Columbia LP series, as far as I know never transferred to CD.
It might be time. All of them come across with greater vigor than their
soggy counterparts here.
The disc is bifurcated as well. Part of it consists of a song recital
by Marni Nixon and John McCabe, from the Sixties. The other belongs
to Metzmacher and the Ensemble Modern, roughly thirty years later.
Nixon's program is some of the best, most communicative singing you've
ever heard, with McCabe an equal partner who revels in the quirks of
Ives's accompaniments. Nixon, a superb singing actress, conveys a sweet
innocence, minus the sentimentality in songs like "The Greatest Man,"
about a little boy praising his father in school (Joan Morris would do
this one quite well, too). She creates vivid scenes in the two extended
songs, "Charlie Rutledge" on the death of a cowboy and "General William
Booth Enters Heaven" after the poem by Vachel Lindsay, two of the
composer's greatest works, let alone songs. I think her singing would
have pleased Ives no end.
Metzmacher's another story. The notes are there, the rhythms are
accurate, the ensemble clear as a bell, but the performance sputters.
Certain movements lay there. Others -- "Calcium Light Night," Over the
Pavements, "Gyp the Blood," From the Steeples and Mountains, Aeschylus
and Sophocles, for example -- come to life. In all, a mixed bag, but
worth getting for Marni Nixon alone.
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