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Ives: The Concord Sonata / John Kirkpatrick

Release Date: 10/15/2013 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 74932  
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performer:  John KirkpatrickCharles Ives
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Among musicians closely associated with Charles Ives and his music, John Kirkpatrick possessed an innate affinity for the composer’s rough and tumble sound world that bordered on clairvoyance. A brilliant and adventurous pianist, Kirkpatrick (1905-1991) gave the complete public premiere of Ives’ “Concord” Sonata in 1938, followed six years later by its first recording. Kirkpatrick remade the work in stereo for Columbia Masterworks in 1968, and its first CD release here sounds better than ever.

The lean, slightly astringent sonority I remember from my well-worn LP copy gains color and tonal heft via digital remastering, with no compromise in regard to the composer’s considerable dynamic range. Kirkpatrick shapes the first two
Read more movements’ gnarly, restless keyboard writing with bracing energy and a near-infallible sense of the music’s quirky ebb and flow. The dissonant outbursts, lyrical asides, and wacky popular song quotations emerge with such idiomatic rightness and effortless transitions that it almost seems as if Kirkpatrick is making up the sonata on the spot. He is not, of course, but astute listeners will notice small textual variants based on source material that appeared only after the composer’s death, and the absence of the optional viola and flute parts.

A selection of Ives’ own private piano recordings fills out the disc, and features the composer improvising variants and new material based on the Emerson and Hawthorne movements, along with a straighter yet no less fervent reading of the complete Alcotts movement. While it’s instructive to sample Ives’ “Concord”-based piano recordings as an adjunct to Kirkpatrick’s performance, you also can find them in CRI/New World’s collection of the complete recordings of Ives at the piano. Had I produced this reissue, I would have gone so far as to add Kirkpatrick’s earlier and even more incisive 1945 “Concord”, together with the never-before-reissued “In the Inn” from the First Sonata that filled out Side 10 of the original five-disc 78 rpm album. Still, Sony/BMG and Arkivmusic.com deserve thanks for restoring Kirkpatrick’s stereo “Concord”, a performance that fully deserves its iconic reputation.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 2 "Concord, Mass 1840-60" by Charles Ives
Performer:  John Kirkpatrick (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1915; USA 
Date of Recording: 03/1968 
Venue:  New York, NY 
Sonata for Piano no 2 "Concord, Mass 1840-60": Excerpt(s) by Charles Ives
Performer:  Charles Ives (Piano)
Emerson (end of exposition) 2:01
Emerson (most of recapitulation) 3:59
Hawthorne (fragment) 0:13
The Alcotts (complete) 4:53
Emerson Transcription No. 1 with Interpolated Improvisations 5:19
Emerson Transcription No. 3 with Interpolated Improvisations 2:31 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 The Best Performance of Some Amazing Music January 19, 2017 By James S. (Pella, IA) See All My Reviews "This is a reissue on CD of John Kirkpatrick's performance released on LP in 1968, with the addition of six tracks played by Charles Ives himself in 1933 and 1943. John Kirkpatrick plays this piece in a way that makes sense of it, not an easy task with Ives's music. Nearly a hundred years after Ives wrote it, this music sounds fresh and new. This is a must for any lover of Ives's music." Report Abuse
 Pefect April 22, 2014 By Robert Ammerman (Cincinnati, OH) See All My Reviews "This is the definitive recording of the Concord. The sound is excellent and Kirkpatrick is superb." Report Abuse
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