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CLASSICAL  February 2009

CLASSICAL February 2009

Subject:

Re: Ives - Sets 1-3

From:

Roger Hecht <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Moderated Classical Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 15 Feb 2009 12:43:49 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (60 lines)

Steve wrote:

>Charles Ives
>
>*  Orchestral Set No. 1 - Three Places in New England (Ver 1; ed. Sinclair)
>*  Orchestral Set No. 2
>*  Orchestral Set No. 3 (ed. Porter; 3rd mvmt. realized by Josephson)
>
>Malmo Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus/James Sinclair
>Naxos 8.559353  Total time: 62:36
>
>Summary for the Busy Executive: Hurrah, boys, hurrah!

Absolutely vis a vis this comment and the review itself. A few comments.

>Naxos's series has already produced interesting results with the
>publication of this disc.  The first set, best known as Three Places
>in New England, is recorded for the first time in its original version.
>Its later revision constitutes a genuine Ives "hit" (even Eugene Ormandy,
>a conductor who doesn't immediately spring to mind as a champion of
>radical music, recorded it), and indeed it was one of the earliest Ives
>works to receive a professional performance.

It's worth mentioning that there was a chamber orchestra version that
Ives produced for Nicolas Slonimsky.  Sinclair produced the big orchestra
version.

I reviewed this disc for ARG (Sept/Oct 2008).  When I did, I was
in contact with James Sinclair, who helped me a great deal with the
differences between the original and the revisions.  In some ways it is
simpler than the revisions.  Apparently, Ives e simplified some of the
material, perhaps because he feared orchestras couldn't play it.  Later,
when he prepared the edition for Slonimsky, he restored many of the
complexities.  Sinclair's big orchestra version combined Slonimsky with
some of the original materials.

>The Orchestral Set #3 is a bit of an illusion, as far as I'm concerned.
>Ives essentially shut down as a composer rather dramatically in 1927,
>when he announced to his wife, "I can't do it any more.  Nothing sounds
>right to me." The Third Set was one of those pieces he was working on.
>The first movement is fairly complete.  The two later movements get
>progressively sketchier, although Ives was to continue to pick at them
>until he died.  The third movement especially consists of scraps.  As
>far as I'm concerned, the piece sounds less interesting as it continues,
>with an outstanding first movement (the one Ives nearly completed), a
>fine second, and a pale third.

I liked the third movement.  It sounded to me like where music went
during the avant garde but far more skillfully composed and far more
communicative as a result. It does sound like a separate piece.  Sinclair
told me that Michael Tilson Thomas liked it enough to want to perform
just this movement.

Roger Hecht

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