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Ives - Symphony No 1; Emerson Concerto [CD]

Charles E Ives , James Sinclair , National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland , Alan Feinberg Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product details

  • Orchestra: National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland
  • Conductor: James Sinclair
  • Composer: Charles E Ives
  • Audio CD (29 Sep 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000CDJKI
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,299 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra: Movement IJames Sinclair 8:38Album Only
Listen  2. Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra: Movement IIJames Sinclair 4:590.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra: Movement IIIAlan Feinberg 5:490.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. Emerson Overture for Piano and Orchestra: Movement IVJames Sinclair 5:320.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Symphony No. 1: Allegro con motoJames Sinclair18:37Album Only
Listen  6. Symphony No. 1: Adagio moltoJames Sinclair 9:09Album Only
Listen  7. Symphony No. 1: ScherzoJames Sinclair 4:290.69  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Symphony No. 1: Allegro moltoJames Sinclair13:19Album Only


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ives: Both "digestible" and challenging. 2 Jun 2004
Format:Audio CD
Superficially, this new Naxos release of Ives's 1st Symphony and the premiere recording of his Emerson Concerto resembles an earlier Naxos release of his 2nd Symphony and Robert Browning Overture (a review of which I gave the sobriquet "Charlie done right"). The resemblance is in the pairing of an "accessible" Ives work with one more "knotty." In each case, the symphony receives a performance using a new critical edition (by Jonathan Elkus in that earlier release and by James Sinclair in this one). And each critical edition affords a fresh view of such "accessible" Ives. But the similarities shouldn't be overdrawn; while the Robert Browning Overture is knotty under the best of circumstances, the Emerson Concerto turns out to be more accessible than I expected; a pleasant revelation.
The 1st Symphony was a "student" work, Ives's Yale thesis work written for his teacher, Horatio Parker, but with the clear influence of his "experimentalist" father, George Ives. (An idea of Ives's "experimentation" is found as early as in the first movement, nominally in D minor, where a passage modulates through eight different key signatures. A near-apocryphal anecdote related by Ives in his later years has Parker at least mildly annoyed by Ives's insistence on these modulations, but finally "throwing up his hands" in defeat and stating "But you must promise to end in D minor.")
If Ives learned from his father, he also clearly learned from Parker. The work is very much in a late 19th-century European mold, with strong resemblances to both Dvorak's New World Symphony (particularly in the second-movement Adagio molto, an obvious "borrowing" from the famous Largo of the Dvorak) and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in the final movement.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By David B VINE VOICE
Format:Audio CD
The two works on this CD represent the beginning and the end of Ives' composing career. The early Symphony No 1 is a very genial, accessible, romantic work, easily enjoyed. The Emerson Concerto is also enjoyable but a much more complex work, and more demanding on the listener. Feinberg's playing is as always, irreproachable, and the recorded sound is good.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charlie Done Right. Part III. 31 Oct 2003
By Bob Zeidler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Superficially, this new Naxos release of Ives's 1st Symphony and the premiere recording of his Emerson Concerto resembles an earlier Naxos release of his 2nd Symphony and Robert Browning Overture (a review of which I gave the sobriquet "Charlie done right"). The resemblance is in the pairing of an "accessible" Ives work with one more "knotty." In each case, the symphony receives a performance using a new critical edition (by Jonathan Elkus in that earlier release and by James Sinclair in this one). And each critical edition affords a fresh view of such "accessible" Ives. But the similarities shouldn't be overdrawn; while the Robert Browning Overture is knotty under the best of circumstances, the Emerson Concerto turns out to be more accessible than I expected; a pleasant revelation.

The 1st Symphony was a "student" work, Ives's Yale thesis work written for his teacher, Horatio Parker, but with the clear influence of his "experimentalist" father, George Ives. (An idea of Ives's "experimentation" is found as early as in the first movement, nominally in D minor, where a passage modulates through eight different key signatures. A near-apocryphal anecdote related by Ives in his later years has Parker at least mildly annoyed by Ives's insistence on these modulations, but finally "throwing up his hands" in defeat and stating "But you must promise to end in D minor.")

If Ives learned from his father, he also clearly learned from Parker. The work is very much in a late 19th-century European mold, with strong resemblances to both Dvorak's New World Symphony (particularly in the second-movement Adagio molto, an obvious "borrowing" from the famous Largo of the Dvorak) and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 in the final movement. If not of the caliber (and endurance of appeal) of other such "first efforts" in the genre as those by Berlioz, Mahler and Shostakovich (at age 19!), it is nonetheless eminently appealing and, even, entertaining. Moreover, it lacks nothing by way of craft except perhaps for an overabundance of ideas (seemingly so rich that a "thriftier" composer might have stretched another symphony out of them). He demonstrates, in this youthful work, that he is as well a very skilled orchestrator, despite his youth and inexperience.

Over the years, I've collected what I think are (or were) all the available recordings of this work: Morton Gould with the Chicago Symphony (the world premiere recording), Eugene Ormandy with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and, most recently, Michael Tilson Thomas with (again) the Chicago Symphony. This new Sinclair performance puts them all out to pasture. (Only the Gould is remembered with fondness, because it was a "discovery" for me.)

Sinclair's critical edition restores a first-movement repeat and adds side-drum percussion (more about THAT later) in the Finale, and as well, I expect, corrects numerous small errors. His reading of the work is superb, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland turn in a splendid performance, and the sonics are among Naxos's best (which means "very good indeed").

Particularly felicitous is Sinclair's interpretation of the Adagio molto second movement, where he lovingly lingers over its beauties, in which Ives serves notice that he is a true melodist, not merely a "note spinner," when he chooses to be. The coda of the Finale is certainly enhanced by the inclusion of side drums having a very "American" flavor, perhaps the single best hint that this is the work of an American composer despite its European flavor otherwise (as if "you can take the boy out of Danbury but you can't take Danbury out of the boy"). Such percussion scoring would become commonplace a generation or so later; it became a frequent touchstone in the works of William Schuman, as one example.

The other work, the Emerson Concerto in its recording premiere, hardly arrives "unannounced," as Alan Feinberg, the soloist here, has performed the work (to splendid reviews) in concerts since its concert premiere in 1998. But for most of us this is a "first hearing."

The work is"realized" by David G. Porter, an Ives scholar who must number among the fearless of this small community, from incomplete sketches of an "Emerson Overture" for piano and orchestra (one of four such proposed overtures on literary figures, of which only the Robert Browning Overture saw completion). According to Sinclair's authoritative "Descriptive Catalog of the Music of Charles Ives," the terms "overture" and "concerto" can be used interchangeably.

While Ives never completed the work, he did succeed in subsuming many of its themes in the Concord Sonata and the Four Emerson Transcriptions for Piano that are closely related, thematically, to the Concord. By far the most famous of these themes is the four-note "Fate" motive that begins Beethoven's 5th Symphony, a theme for which Ives ascribed greater "universality" than did Beethoven himself.

Ivesians coming upon this work for the first time will find it to be a fascinating, and at times compelling, mix of "the old" and "the new and strange." For the most part, connections to the Concord and the Emerson Transcriptions will be recognized, but of course transmogrified. The "Fate" motive seems to be more dominant here than in the keyboard equivalents; it is clearly the unifying theme for all four movements. Feinberg is absolutely heroic in his performance (as he needs to be, needless to say).

Orchestrating the work (and here Porter has done a superb job) clarifies far more than it obscures, vis-à-vis the keyboard works. As would be expected, shattering dissonances live side-by-side with passages of transcendent beauty. I was even able to pick out a passage or two where quarter-tones seem to have been employed by Porter; they are for the most part in the quieter passages, and they simply glow with beauty.

As much as I've enjoyed the work in its first few hearings, I think it will grow on me even more over time. And the newly-revised 1st Symphony is a winner on all accounts.

Needless to say, highy recommended.

Bob Zeidler
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charles Ives meets Bob Zeidler 22 May 2014
By Robin Friedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I became interested in revisiting the music of the great American composer Charles Ives (1874 -- 1954) after reading the new biography, by Stephen Budiansky, "Charles Ives: The Nostalgic Rebel." I had heard and reviewed several recordings of Ives in the Naxos labels' "American Classics" series, but I had missed this CD, recorded in 2002 and released in 2005, of Ives' Symphony No. 1 and of his "Emerson" piano concerto. The only Amazon review to date of this CD is that of the late Bob Zeidler, dated October 31, 2003. I decided to write a short remembrance of Bob's Amazon Ives' reviews in addition to discussing the CD.

Naxos has recorded much of the orchestral, chamber, piano, and vocal music of Ives. This CD features Ives early and Ives late. James Sinclair, the noted conductor and Ives scholar, conducts the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland with Alan Feinberg, a champion of contemporary music, performing the "Emerson" concerto. Jan Swafford, the author of a landmark Ives biography, prepared the liner notes.

The CD is a study in contrasts. Ives composed his symphony no. 1 while still a student at Yale for his teacher, the musically conservative Horatio Parker. The symphony is in the style of late romanticism with a particular debt to Dvorak. It is in traditional symphonic form but with imaginative orchestration and changes of key. The symphony is tuneful and accessible throughout particularly in the lyrical first movement and in the heavily-Dvorak influenced slow movement. It works to grand perorations at the conclusion of the first and final movements. The recording here is lengthier than earlier recordings because Sinclair opts to take the first movement repeat. As an early work, the symphony tends to wander and to be prolix at times but it is infectious and exuberant. Sinclair uses a new text of the work which corrects many earlier errors.

The "Emerson Concerto" is Ives late. The composer had written out this work in draft but never completed it. Instead, Ives used most of the thematic material in other late compositions, including the "Concord" piano sonata. David C. Porter reconstructed the work for performance. It premiered in 1998 with Feinberg at the piano and had several live performances in addition to this CD. It does not appear to have been performed much subsequent to this recording. The four-movement work is clangorous and impressive with strong, varied virtuoso writing for the piano. The music shifts frequently in tempo and character, with lyrical, blues-influenced sections alternating with harsh dissonances. The work has a propulsive forward-looking quality that Ives found in the American philosopher he so admired. Although this work is a "reconstruction" it is totally Ivesian in character and well worth hearing.

Bob Zeidler's review of this CD says what needs to be said. Many veteran Amazon reviewers remember Bob for his reviews which combined scholarship, love and enthusiasm and for his unstinting friendship and encouragement of fellow lovers of music. Bob reviewed broadly in music, including some popular titles as well as his encyclopediac knowledge of classical music. He participated in the New York Time's Classical Music Forum as well as reviewing on Amazon. Bob Zeidler (January 18, 1939 -- April 2, 2005) wrote 242 reviews on Amazon beginning with a review of a CD of Celtic folk music on April 13, 1999, and concluding with a review of Rachmaninov piano concertos on December 31, 2004. Bob was an inventor and held three patents.

Bob's reviews show a special love for and knowledge of Charles Ives. Including the CD under review, Bob wrote 15 reviews of books and recordings about Ives together with several other reviews that deal in part with the composer. His reviews are marked by scholarship and enthusiasm. I wanted to gather together and give links to a number of Bob's Ives reviews to help make them accessible as a guide to readers and as a remembrance.

Bob's review of this CD is titled "Charlie Done Right, Part III". Bob wrote to related reviews titled "Charlie Done Right", parts I and II of Naxos CDs. We will begin with them.

1. Review of Ives Symphony No. 2, September 30, 2000, "Ives Done Right". Ives: Symphony No. 2; Robert Browning Overture

2. Review of Ives Symphony No. 3, March 9, 2003, "Ives Done Right, Part II". Ives: Symphony No. 3

Here are some additional Ives CDs Bob reviewed.

3. Review of Ives' four violin and piano sonatas on Naxos, January 2, 2004. Violin Sonatas 1-4

4. Review of collection of Ives songs by Jan DeGaetani, August 17, 2004. Songs

5. Review of Ives' Holidays Symphony, November 27, 2003. Ives: Holidays Symphony

Now for some of Bob's book reviews about Ives.

6. Review of Jan Swafford's biography, "Charles Ives" A Life with Music" July 15, 2001. Charles Ives: A Life with Music

7. Review of a delightful children's book by Mordicai Gerstein, "What Charlie Heard", August 23, 2004 What Charlie Heard

8. Review of "Ives Celebration" a collection of papers published to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ives' birth, Vivian Perlis, ed, May 27, 2004, Ives Celebration: Papers and Panels of the Charles Ives Centennial Festival (Music in American life)

9. Review of "Charles Ives Remembered", source material edited by Vivian Perlis, May 9, 2003. Charles Ives Remembered: AN ORAL HISTORY (Music in American Life)

10. Review of "Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition" by J. Peter Burkholder, May 11, 2004. Charles Ives and the Classical Tradition

I have enjoyed revisiting both Ives and his highly insightful reviewer, Bob Zeidler. Bob's life are story are inspiring for those who love music and who work seriously on Amazon reviews. I hope this review will remind Bob's friends of his writing here on Amazon and introduce new readers and reviewers to both Charles Ives and Bob Zeidler.

Robin Friedman
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