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American Classics - Ives: String Quartets / Blair Quartet


Release Date: 10/31/2006 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559178   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performer:  Christian TealFelix WangJohn KochanowskiCornelia Heard
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Blair String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 50 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

It's always good to have new recordings of Ives' two quartets (here including a bonus of the zany Scherzo for String Quartet). They are wonderful works, the first tuneful and charming, the second one of Ives' finest mature pieces. In the Second quartet the Blair Quartet charts a middle course between the Emerson's sleek and swift version on DG and the much slower, heavier Leipzig Quartet reading on MDG. Their less-polished ensemble sonority, grainier than the competition but never in an unpleasant or inartistic way, suits the music well, whether in the plain-spun hymn tunes of the First quartet or the raucous eruptions of the Second.


Only in the latter work's transcendental closing bars might I have wished for a
Read more smoother, richer timbre, but there's no questioning the sensible pacing or the players' mastery of the idiom. The sonics are also flatteringly clear and coherent, allowing plenty of contrapuntal detail to register without picking up extraneous performance noises or the ensemble's own breathing--almost always a problem, it seems, with quartet productions. God only knows if the Emerson version is still available, and for all the enticing additional couplings (a bevy of short pieces), the Leipzigers' Wagnerian take on the Second Quartet may not be to all tastes (and the disc is extremely expensive). That makes this release a very welcome addition to the Ives discography.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Quartet for Strings no 1 "From the Salvation Army" by Charles Ives
Performer:  Christian Teal (Violin), Felix Wang (Cello), John Kochanowski (Viola),
Cornelia Heard (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Blair String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1896; USA 
Venue:  Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. 
Length: 21 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Notes: Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. (03/05/2004 - 03/08/2004) 
2.
A Set of Short Pieces (3): no 2, Scherzo "Holding Your Own" by Charles Ives
Performer:  Felix Wang (Cello), John Kochanowski (Viola), Cornelia Heard (Violin),
Christian Teal (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Blair String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1903-1914; USA 
Venue:  Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. (03/05/2004 - 03/08/2004) 
3.
Quartet for Strings no 2 by Charles Ives
Performer:  Felix Wang (Cello), Christian Teal (Violin), Cornelia Heard (Violin),
John Kochanowski (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Blair String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1913; USA 
Venue:  Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. 
Length: 26 Minutes 59 Secs. 
Notes: Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt Univ. (03/05/2004 - 03/08/2004) 

Sound Samples

String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army": I. Chorale: Andante con moto
String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army": II. Prelude: Allegro
String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army": III. Offertory: Adagio cantabile
String Quartet No. 1, "From the Salvation Army": IV. Postlude: Allegro marziale
Scherzo for String Quartet: Scherzo
String Quartet No. 2: I. Discussions: Andante moderato - Andante con spirito - Adagio molto
String Quartet No. 2: II. Arguments: Allegro con spirito
String Quartet No. 2: III. The Call of the Mountains: Adagio – Andante – Adagio

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