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The Music Of America: Charles Ives

Music Of America: Charles Ives / Various
Release Date: 06/08/2010 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 770049   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas HampsonMichael Tilson Thomas
Conductor:  Michael Tilson ThomasLeopold StokowskiEugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony OrchestraAmerican Symphony OrchestraPhiladelphia Orchestra,   ... 
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

CDs 1 and 2 
"This is very much - though not exclusively - Tilson Thomas's Ives and predominantly from the 1980s. The exceptions include a single straggler conducted by Stokowski (the Fugue movement from symphony 4) though his name is not mentioned in the booklet listing. In any event it’s the version in which Jose Serebrier collaborated as assistant. There’s also Stokie's Robert Browning Overture and Ormandy's America Variations.
 
MTT directs orchestras from Chicago, the Concertgebouw and San Francisco. the recordings sound a lot better being more recent than those for Bernstein, Barber and Copland.
 
The Second Symphony and the Variations on America have
Read more solid Brahmsian ‘bottom’ to them even if the Second does end with American brashness and that innovative iconoclastic discord.
 
MTT’s From Steeple and Mountains does justice to the inventive Ives who pushes magically at the boundaries of the spidery decay of tonality. The piece has some of the mystique of the trumpet solos in Schmidt's Fourth Symphony yet with a wonderful spareness. The Browning Overture is out there at the edge as well with a dissonant devilry. The webby canvas returns in the subtleties of the Holiday Symphony’s Decoration Day which sound rather lichen-hung as if having escaped from the dank worlds created by Frank Bridge in the 1920s.
 
Two ballads sung by Thomas Hampson with MTT at the piano show how predictive Ives was of the wit of Bernstein. In Things our Father Taught Us the drawing-room melts away as modernity’s refractory imagination infiltrates the room.
 
The Circus Band is brazen and pastiche. General William Booth enters Heaven is a phantasmagoria which bawls with tin tabernacle wildness. Ives cuts this already heady mixture with gospel hymn cross-currents. The challenge thrown down by the choir in Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb is taken up in the long string sampler hymnals of the Fugue from the Fourth Symphony.
 
CD 3
The Third Symphony is smoothly Brahmsian yet with unusual touches. The Children's Day chatter is full of earnestly playful Allegro power. It is an affectionate portrait that ends in a impressionistic fragile mist - infinitely touching and uncertain of itself. Those bells might well have inspired Hovhaness who was a close co-worker of Henry Cowell and Lou Harrison; the latter revived the Third Symphony in 1947 winning for the work a Pulitzer Prize.
 
Three Places in New England is another Frank Bridge-style confection - clammy, lichen-draped and Gothic-romantic. There are times when you could morph this score into Bridge's There is a Willow. The orchestral piano chips in part way through The St Gaudens across the sweetest tender string writing. Putnam’s Camp is full of good-hearted discord and moonlit Pierrot play. The famous Housatonic at Stockbridge is in part Delian as in Appalachia with the gently twinkling discord of the piano across the choir which is only heard in this movement. It ends, not in honeyed reaffirmation, but in a boiling discord.
 
In The Unanswered Question the tension is superbly sustained by MTT and the Chicagoans. It ends with flittering and discordant birdsong and that silkily sighing attenuated violin sound here redolent of the Tallis Fantasia. The Scriabin-like solo trumpet of Adolph Herseth is part enigmatic and part elegiac as in the Schmidt Fourth Symphony.
 
We end with Central Park in the Dark which takes us into much the same world as The Unanswered Question. There’s an evolutionary up-welling rising to a jazzily discordant convulsion. All power dissipated, the music sinks into an uneasy free-floating dimension. It’s incredibly imaginative and not at all difficult to take on board."

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Symphony no 2 by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1900-1902; USA 
2. From the Steeples and Mountains by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1901-02; USA 
3. Robert Browning Overture by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Conductor:  Leopold Stokowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  American Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908-1912; USA 
4. Variations for Organ on "America" by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1891; USA 
Notes: Orchestrated by William Schuman. 
5. Holidays by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904-1913; USA 
Notes: 
Full title: "A Symphony: New England Holidays"
I. Washington's Birthday
II. Decoration Day
III. The Fourth of July
IV. Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day 
6. The Things our Fathers Loved by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; USA 
7. Memories by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897; USA 
8. The Circus Band by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1894; USA 
9. General William Booth Enters into Heaven by Charles Ives
Performer:  Thomas Hampson (Baritone), Michael Tilson Thomas (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Schola Cantorum New York
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1914; USA 
10. Symphony no 4: 3rd movement, Fugue by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1912-1924; USA 
11. Symphony no 3 "The Camp Meeting" by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; USA 
12. First Orchestral Set "Three Places in New England" by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: circa 1912-1921; USA 
Notes: 
Movements:
I. The "St. Gaudens" in Boston Common
II. Putnam's Camp
III. The Housatonic at Stockbridge 
13. The Unanswered Question no 2 by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
14. Contemplations (2): no 2, Central Park in the Dark by Charles Ives
Conductor:  Michael Tilson Thomas
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Chicago Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; USA 

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