Friday, May 27, 2011

Ives, Charles - The Symphonies, Orchestral Sets 1 & 2 - Mehta, Dohnanyi, Marriner







Decca's Ives orchestral music set makes for an attractive and inexpensive way to collect these startlingly original works. Zubin Mehta's recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 had its first CD appearance last year on the Eloquence label, and with this latest issue collectors finally will be able to buy these vibrant and colorful (notwithstanding the large cut in the First Symphony's finale) Los Angeles Philharmonic performances in Los Angeles--and other U.S. cities. (What a concept!) Neville Marriner turns in a surprisingly sympathetic performance of Ives' Third, and if it lacks the passionate advocacy of Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic, Marriner and his Academy succeed in bringing an almost classical clarity to this sometimes densely textured work.

This photo from around 1913 shows Ives in his "day job". He was the director of a successful insurance agency. Long a champion of "difficult" 20th century music, Christoph von Dohnányi leads powerful performances of Ives' Fourth Symphony and Orchestral Sets 1 & 2. Dohnányi penetrates the music's multi-layered textures with laser-beam precision, aided immeasurably by the Cleveland Orchestra's legendary clear balances and stunning virtuosity. Decca's sound is vivid throughout the collection, but is particularly impactful in the digital Cleveland recordings, which did not stay in the catalog very long after their original release. So, grab them now, before they vanish faster than the abrupt ending of the Fourth Symphony's second movement.--Victor Carr Jr


flac, scans



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