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Ives: Piano Sonata "concord Mass," Songs / Graham, Aimard


Release Date: 05/11/2004 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 60297   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent AimardSusan Graham
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 19 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

What a brilliant idea to juxtapose Pierre-Laurent Aimard's recording of Charles Ives' Concord Sonata with a wide-ranging selection from the composer's 114 songs. To answer the question as to why Ives did not write an opera is to investigate the songs, which are nothing if not mini-dramas for voice and piano. They encompass some of Ives' most gorgeous, lyrical inspirations, like The Housatonic at Stockbridge, The Things our Fathers Loved, and Thoreau (the latter incorporates themes from the Sonata's final movement), as well as droll character pieces such as the two Memories, The Circus Band, and Ann Street.


You can't deny the charm, unflinching accuracy, and port wine timbre that Susan Graham brings to this repertoire.
Read more My only criticism is that she colors specific sustained notes or vowels in ways that place purely vocal considerations ahead of the words. One cogent example concerns Like a Sick Eagle, which Ives asks to be sung in a "weak and dragging way" rather than the generic introspection Graham gives us. By contrast, Jan DeGaetani deliberately slips and slides around the pitches, creating a new musical language. DeGaetani and her pianist Gilbert Kalish also respond more readily to Ives' wild, unbuttoned sensibility in The Circus Band and in the middle section of The Things Our Fathers Loved, whereas Graham and Aimard smooth over the unruffled feathers, so to speak. I hasten to point out that Graham and Aimard operate at an extremely high level of executional sophistication and refinement, and aspiring Ives performers can learn a lot from them.


Given Aimard's celebrated proficiency with difficult 20th-century solo piano works, it comes as no surprise that he makes the Concord Sonata's knottiest pages sound easy to play and clear to perceive--as in Hawthorne's lightning-quick runs, Ragtime-influenced passages, and mountains of chord clusters. The Alcotts movement might seem too brisk and business-like to listeners accustomed to more genial, softer-edged accounts, however I find the added rigor and rhythmic backbone refreshing. Notice also how Aimard articulates Ives' varied accentuations and stress markings by timbral distinction rather than merely adjusting dynamics. He matches the polish and power of Marc-André Hamelin's New World Records recording, while imparting an idiomatic flavor to the march and hymn-tune quotations that we've missed since the Concord's vinyl heyday via Kirkpatrick, Kontarsky, Szidon, and Mandel (only the latter has been reissued on CD).


Tabea Zimmermann plays the first movement's optional two-bar viola part as well as it can be played, while Emmanuel Pahud's flute seemingly floats up from the piano's innards in the last movement, leaving a lasting imprint. Perhaps a forthcoming SACD edition might impart a bit more warmth and dynamic heft to the engineering. [5/18/2004]
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 2 "Concord, Mass 1840-60" by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911-1915; USA 
Date of Recording: 01/07/2004 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 48 Minutes 16 Secs. 
2.
The Things our Fathers Loved by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
3.
Swimmers by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano), Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 40 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
4.
The Cage by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 0 Minutes 46 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
5.
Ann Street by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 0 Minutes 55 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
6.
One, Two, Three by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 0 Minutes 35 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
7.
The Housatonic at Stockbridge by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano), Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 54 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
8.
September by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano), Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 0 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
9.
Thoreau by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1915; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
10.
The Circus Band by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: ?1894; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
11.
Soliloquy by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano), Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 0 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
12.
Memories by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1897; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
13.
Set no 1 for Small Orchestra: no 4, Like a Sick Eagle by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1907-1911; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 53 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
14.
The Indians by Charles Ives
Performer:  Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano), Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
15.
Serenity by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1919; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
16.
A Farewell to Land by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 1 Minutes 45 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
17.
Songs my mother taught me by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1895; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 3 Minutes 27 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 
18.
A sound of a distant horn by Charles Ives
Performer:  Susan Graham (Mezzo Soprano), Pierre-Laurent Aimard (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1921; USA 
Venue:  Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
Language: English 
Notes: Great Concert Hall, Vienna, Austria (11/06/2003 - 11/08/2003) 

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