Monday, October 04, 2010

Remembering Charles Ives; some events in NYC

Vivien Schweitzer has a major story on the music of Charles Ives in the Sunday Oct. 3 New York Times, p. 24 in Arts & Leisure, “Taming Ives with head, heart and humor”, link here.

I had trouble finding this story online until I tried “Taming Ives” in Google.

The most interesting part of the article is the facsimile of the opening of the Concord Sonata (#2), with the first movement titled “Emerson”. Online, the NY Times article “legally” reproduces the first page of the score (q.v.) Note the massive writing in octaves and polytonal chords and syncopation. It looks like Brahms, until you hear it. I believe Ives experimented with quarter tones, but I'm not sure I could name a work right now. "Ploytonality" seems to characterize most of his work.

I have a CD of this packed away somewhere, so I went to Amazon and located the recording in 2005 by Gilbert Kalish. I have never bought classical music by MP3 download before, so I tried the $0.99 download of the third movement, “The Alcotts”, about six minutes, triple time, and it does sound the most Brahmsian of the four movements. Vista (and popup control) made it complicated to do, and then find later; Amazon let me play it before making me pay.

Note that Amazon, like many sites, lets one play a minute or so of each movement of a work for free before deciding to buy.

In the long run, MP3 may be the way to go to collect classical music, if you have an automated backup service (Mozy, Carbonite, or Webroot) to save your digital collection from all possible wildfires and hurricanes (I think property insurance companies would like the concept).

During my senior year of high school (1960-1961), one of my best friends, while enamored to Dvorak and the last movement of Tchaikovky’s Pathetique (the latter always seemed too self-pitying for me), once announced (either on a Shenandoah hike or on that Mount Washington field trip) that Charles Ives was his favorite composer. (No one had heard of Amy Beach in those days.) But I got taken in by Ives’s First Symphony, a traditionally tonal postromantic work (1902) in D Minor, as I remember, on RCA with Gould and the Chicago Symphony at one time, as I recall (the work quotes other romantic works, including Dvorak), but Eugen D’Albert had already done something similar in his first piano concerto). And Ives’s “Unknown Region” sounds like Mars to me, just after the remnants of a billion year old dead civilization have been found.

I’ll pass on some news from an email: the music of Tim Andres “(“Timo”) will be performed Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 11 here (“Yale in New York” link) and at Carnegoe West Oct. 12, link here. with Ensemble ACJW  from a Carnegie program called “The Academy” (link ), no relation to a fictitious institution in one of my screenplay scripts!

Wikipedia attribution link for Carnegie Hall picture

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