Notes and Editorial Reviews
Charles Ives' four violin sonatas count among the composer's most focused and imaginative works in any genre. They contain enough craggy dissonances, mangled hymn tunes, and rhythmic horseplay to satisfy hard-core Ivesians, yet their burly textures and volatile mood swings communicate a sense of immediacy not dissimilar to late-Romantic violin sonatas by Brahms and Franck. Individually and collectively violinist Curt Thompson and pianist Rodney Waters are fully on top of and into these works. Thompson's acerbic, nasal tone is particularly effective in sustained lyrical passages, and at times he alters it to take on a cello-like timbre (listen to the Third Sonata's drawn out first-movement coda, for instance). He also digs into Ives' uptempo
humor with idiomatic gusto in the Fourth Sonata's outer movements and in the Second Sonata's central "In The Barn" movement--an "unsquare" dance if ever there were one! For his part, Waters brings maximum security and character to the composer's difficult piano parts.
True, Thompson doesn't match the tonal and expressive variety violinist Gregory Fulkerson commands in the above-mentioned reference versions, which are better engineered as well. But you can't beat having all four Ives Sonatas on a single, bargain-priced disc, and the brilliant booklet notes by Ives scholar H. Wiley Hitchcock are models of their kind. Recommended.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less
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