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
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
Works on This Recording
Sonata for Piano no 2 "Concord, Mass 1840-60" by Charles Ives
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
Charles Ives (Piano)
Notes: BONUS TRACKS: IVES PLAYS IVES
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
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