girl-penguinIbert, Jacques

IBERT: Capriccio / Thomas Peter, trumpeter; Chloé Ducray, harpist; Alexandra Soumm, violinist; Ensemble Initium; Clément Mao-Takacs, conductor / Cinq Pièces en trio / Armel Descotte, oboist; Frank Sibold, bassoonist; François Tissot, clarinetist / Concerto for Cello and Winds, 1st mvmt; 2nd mvmt; 3rd mvmt / Henri Demarquette, cellist; Ensemble Initium; Clément Mao-Takacs, conductor / Deux Mouvements / Ensemble Initium / Le Jardinier de Samos / Thomas Peter, trumpeter; Edouard Samos, flautist; François Lemoine, clarinetist; Sarah Sultan, cellist; Adrian Salloum, drums / Trois Pièces Brèves: 1st piece, 2nd piece, 3rd piece / Edouard Sabo, flautist; François Lemoine, clarinetist; Frank Sibold, bassoonist; Stéphane Bridoux, hornist / Timpani 1210, or most pieces available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above

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IBERT: Escales (Ports of Call): I. Rome, Palermo; II. Tunis, Nefta; III. Valencia / Boston Symphony Orchestra; Charles Munch, conductor / available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on titles above

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Jacques Ibert and his enigmatic, harmonically ambiguous music were once highly prized and admired, but somehow over time he has become the “forgotten” French composer except for his Escales or Ports of Call. The above recordings give you an excellent overview of his work Also see collections: Chaliapin.

Ives, Charles

IVES: Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860” / John Kirkpatrick, pianist / IVES: Excerpts from the “Concord” Sonata / Charles Ives, pianist / Sony Classical 886444044349

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IVES: Piano Sonata No. 2, “Concord, Mass., 1840-1860”: Emerson; Hawthorne; The Alcotts; Thoreau. Four Transcriptions from “Emerson”: I. II. III. IV. Three-Page Sonata / Donna Coleman, pianist; Jonathan C. Sills, flautist / Etcetera 1049, also available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above

 

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A rarity: two six-fish ratings for two entirely different readings of Ives’ infamously difficult Sonata, which has daunted many a pianist. John Kirkpatrick gave the world premiere performance of it in 1938 and, in 1945, made the first recording. Twenty-three years later, he made this superb stereo remake for the same company (Columbia Records). The performance is best described as craggy in sound and style, but as the accompanying recordings of Ives himself playing parts of it prove, this is the way it was intended to go. Donna Coleman tames it a bit, introducing a bit more legato and making it both powerful and beautiful. Hers is also one of the very few recordings to use the optional flute obbligato that Ives wrote.

IVES: Songs: “1, 2, 3.” Ann Street. The Cage. Circus Band. A Farewell to Land. The Housatonic at Stockbridge. The Indians. Like a Sick Eagle. Memories. September. Serenity (A Unison Chant). Soliloquy (or a Study in Sevenths & Other Things). Songs My Mother Taught Me. “A Sound of a Distant Horn.” Swimmers. The Things Our Fathers Loved. Thoreau / Susan Graham, mezzo-soprano; Pierre-Laurent Aimard, pianist / part of Warner Classics 2564 68625

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IVES: Songs: Afterglow. The Cage. Canon. Charlie Rutlage. Mirage. The New River. A Night Thought.There is a Lane. Those Evening Bells. Through Night and Day / Paul Sperry, tenor; Irma Vallecillo, pianist / Ballad from Rosamunde. Berceuse. A Farewell to Land. The Love Song of Har Dyal. Memories. Mists. A Perefect Day. Qu’ikl M’irait Bien. Religion. Romanza di Central Park. Soliloquy (or a Study in Sevenths & Other Things). World’s Wanderers / Dora Ohrenstein, soprano; Phillip Bush, pianist / Chanson de Florian. The Children’s Hour. Evidence. Far From My Heavenly Home. Feldensamkeit. From “The Swimmers.” Harpalus. A Night Song. Slugging a Vampire. There is a Certain Garden. The Things Our Fathers Loved. Walking. Watchman! / Mary Ann Hart, mezzo-soprano; Dennis Helmrich, pianist / Gen. William Booth Enters Into Heaven. Circus Band. Flag Song. I Traveled Among Unknown Men. Luck and Work. My Native Land. Slow March. Tarrant Moss / William Sharp, baritone; Steven Blier, pianist / issued on various Albany CDs in their Ives Songs series

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IVES: Du bist wie ein Blume. Ein Ton. Feldeinsamkeit. Frühlingslied. Gruß. Ich Grolle Nicht. Ilmenau (Wanderers Nachtlied). In Flanders Fields. Walt Whitman. Wiegenlied / Thomas Hampson, baritone; Armen Guzelimian, pianist / part of Teldec 98825

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Charles Ives’ massive song output is by far one of his most impressive achievements, yet only about a dozen of his songs are widely known, with Memories probably being number one. The songs listed above are splendidly sung by the various singers, and the Thomas Hampson CD is interesting for his wonderfully sensitive renditions of his German songs in particular. Also look for soprano Radiana Pazmor’s stupendous early recording (1934) of Ives’ greatest song, Gen. William Booth Enters Into Heaven for free streaming on YouTube.

IVES: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 / Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor / Sony Classical SKU 5726

 

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IVES: Symphony No. 2. The Unanswered Question. Central Park in the Dark. Tone Roads No. 1 / New York Philharmonic Orchestra; Leonard Bernstein, conductor / DGG 429220 or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles

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IVES: Symphony No. 3, “The Camp Meeting”: 1st mvmt. 2nd mvmt. 3rd mvmt. Set No. 1: I. II. III. IV. V. VI. A Set of Pieces. Three Places in New England. The Unanswered Question / Orpheus Chamber Orchestra; Gilbert Kalish, pianist / DGG 439869, or available for free streaming on YouTube by clicking on individual titles above

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IVES: Universe Symphony (completed by Larry Austin). Orchestral Set No. 2: I. II. III. The Unanswered Question / CCM Percussion Ensemble and Chamber Choir; Cincinnati Philharmonia Orchestra; Gerhard Samuel, conductor / Centaur 2205, or available for free streaming by clicking on individual titles above

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Ives’ orchestral works run the gamut from small suites to full-sized symphonies, but amazingly enough, no concerti. The Unanswered Question is one of those rare pieces that can be performed literally hundreds of times without repeating the same sequence of notes, since both the “question” and the “answer” can be inserted by the performers against the soft string backdrop any time they feel like it, which moves the music around.

Of his five symphonies, the weakest is clearly the fourth. There are some good musical ideas here, but Ives kept hitting mental roadblocks and never quite achieved a consistent musical progression. On the other hand, his unfinished Universe Symphony, particularly in the superb completed edition by Larry Austin, is one of his masterpieces. So too is his better-known (and well-loved) Three Places in New England. Some of the other works presented here, particularly the Orchestral Sets Nos. 1 and 2, are also quite good. Their lack of public acclaim is a bit surprising.

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