Author Topic: Charles Ives  (Read 92270 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #460 on: March 10, 2017, 08:33:24 AM »
Hah, for a second I thought: I really agree with the guy you are responding to. Turns out that was me, after all.
Thing is, Darmstadt-composers didn't, to my knowledge, know a lot of Ives, if any. So his sounding like some of what they did would be more incidental than anything else. I also think it comes out of a very different motivation. I could see how Cage would have been very aware of Ives, though... and the smile in Cage, for all his modernism, suggests something that is perhaps closer to the naive (?) beauty of Ives than the more academic innovation that came from the Darmstadt-staples. (Actually, a lot of very much non-avantgarde composers also came out of Darmstadt, but just didn't get the traction.)

I don't, however, argue that his works doesn't seem to pre-shadow the works you mention. Only that there is no or much less a link than it could appear.

I agree with much of this. I don’t think Ives was the precursor to the Darmstadt School. Unlike the Darmstadt School composers, Ives never fully left the notion of Romanticism behind. As I mentioned several times now, his foot was in both the Romantic and Modern doors. Those experimental works of his still are clearly the music of someone who hasn’t forgotten the past. Ives best works, IMHO, are both backward and forward-looking. I think many times people like thatfabulousalien are hearing things in the music that simply aren’t there no matter how they perceive them. I’m not going to argue this point to death, because it’s not worth it, but Ives is one of my favorite composers and I’ve spent many years absorbing, listening to his music, and trying my best to get some kind of historical perspective on his music, which can be difficult given that Ives didn’t date his works and even musicologists who have devoted time to studying his own compositional history are still as we speak trying to piece together this incredible, but enigmatic composer.
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Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #461 on: March 10, 2017, 08:44:07 AM »

Fast forward to GMG, and the encouragement to try the Litton/Dallas recordings of the symphonies.  I am not saying that Litton is better than MTT here (I have not done a comparison), but my ears were freer at that point, and I simply enjoyed the Third (as all of the four) for what it is.

And now, revisiting the piece as recorded by both Litton and Lenny, I do genuinely love the Third Symphony.

Will I love the Second?  Well, let me give it a try . . . .

Lenny and Litton are aces with the 3rd. But do check out Morlot/Seattle's recording, if only for the closing moments. Morlot lets the final bells ring and slowly diminish for about 40 seconds. Truly beautiful.


 https://www.amazon.com/Ives-Symphony-Unanswered-Question-Central/dp/B018UPMNHO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489164444&sr=8-1&keywords=ives+morlot

(sorry, forgot how to post a hyperlink within the text)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 08:49:43 AM by TheGSMoeller »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #462 on: March 10, 2017, 09:04:35 AM »
Lenny and Litton are aces with the 3rd. But do check out Morlot/Seattle's recording, if only for the closing moments. Morlot lets the final bells ring and slowly diminish for about 40 seconds. Truly beautiful.


 https://www.amazon.com/Ives-Symphony-Unanswered-Question-Central/dp/B018UPMNHO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489164444&sr=8-1&keywords=ives+morlot

(sorry, forgot how to post a hyperlink within the text)

I’m wondering if I need yet another recording of these works, but I think you pretty much sold me on Morlot, Greg. Drats more money down the tubes! ;) ;D
“My music is best understood by children and animals.” - Igor Stravinsky

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #463 on: March 10, 2017, 09:16:51 AM »


So, I go to college, and of course I am predisposed to think well of an American experimental composer!  The Unanswered Question enchants me at Wooster;  the “Concord” Sonata wins me immediately at Buffalo.  In between, in the orchestra at UVa, I play IIRC second clarinet in the Second Symphony . . . the Symphony doesn’t ring my bell, in large part because I do not find Clarinet 2 at all a gratifying experience, most of it either just one strand in a mushy texture (these were my feelings at the time, you understand), or just doubling someone else.  This is the source of my feeling, a feeling which for a long period overshadowed my appreciation of the Ives symphonies, that he was an orchestral amateur, but that I could not much fault him because his symphonies were not performed at the time he was writing them, so that he did not draw the benefit of experience/feedback.


Although I wanted to report the fact (as I remember), I was wrong-headed. My "mismatch" with the Second was no fault of Ives'.  That was a time when I had a bucket of specific interests (arguably fairly wide, but not infinite), and I was your typical young man in a hurry, and if what was on the stand fell outside my "bucket," I could be dismissive. (I didn't care at all for the Vaughan Williams symphonies, the first I listened to most of them.) So, yes, I do love the Second now.

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Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #464 on: March 10, 2017, 09:20:22 AM »
I’m wondering if I need yet another recording of these works, but I think you pretty much sold me on Morlot, Greg. Drats more money down the tubes! ;) ;D

It's a solid disc, John. And a new critical edition of the 4th symphony, that I believe this to be the first recording of.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #465 on: March 10, 2017, 09:43:41 AM »
It's a solid disc, John. And a new critical edition of the 4th symphony, that I believe this to be the first recording of.

Très cool. 8)
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Offline TheGSMoeller

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #466 on: March 10, 2017, 04:48:06 PM »
My introduction to Ives was 25 years ago with Kronos Quartet's release Black Angels. It featured Ives performing/signing his song They Are There! at the piano, and the Kronos Quartet joining along with a newly written string quartet part. I was fascinated by this music, and by Ives' own frantic vocal stylings. This shortly led me to The Unanswered Question and his 3rd Symphony, and from there I was hooked.
I wanted to share They Are There! for the Ives fans that haven't heard it before.

Also, the entire album Black Angels is phenomenal. One of Kronos Quartet's greatest concept album, with additional music of Crumb, Tallis, Istvan Marta(who's piece Doom - A Sigh is extremely difficult to sit through as its incredibly sad) and Shostakovich's 8th Quartet.

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRuK-3j0Qhc&amp;index=5&amp;list=PLIjeDq3yEiGeA33eaS0ljzwjRx1nXQoGG" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRuK-3j0Qhc&amp;index=5&amp;list=PLIjeDq3yEiGeA33eaS0ljzwjRx1nXQoGG</a>
« Last Edit: March 10, 2017, 04:50:39 PM by TheGSMoeller »

Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #467 on: March 10, 2017, 06:43:20 PM »
Of course Webern and Varese where the model but Ives' ideas where like precursors to Darmstadt, for a majority of Ives' work I agree with you but he had quite a few really radical, 1950s sounding moments. It wasn't just Darmstadt either, Cage had some slightly more esoteric ideas that can be found in a more straight forward way in Ives' Symphony no 4.

Symphony no 4, in someways had Gruppen-isms but it also reminds me of Cage pieces like Apartment House 1776 for instance. Many of his chamber ensemble works remind me a lot of Ligeti, Nancarrow, Xenakis (to a smaller extent) and there is probably more I missed too :)

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tran·scen·den·tal·ism
ˌtran(t)ˌsenˈden(t)lˌizəm/
noun: Transcendentalism; noun: transcendentalism
1. an idealistic philosophical and social movement that developed in New England around 1836 in reaction to rationalism. Influenced by romanticism, Platonism, and Kantian philosophy, it taught that divinity pervades all nature and humanity, and its members held progressive views on feminism and communal living. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were central figures.
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #468 on: March 12, 2017, 05:15:21 AM »
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum and also new to Ives. I posted this in the introductions section of the forum:

Quote
I've just started investigating Charles Ives, starting with his 1st symphony (the Hyperion recording). Very enjoyable, but I must confess to being baffled by the booklet notes stating that the finale closes with a parade of themes from the whole symphony. I have no formal musical training and therefore have only a very limited knowledge of music theory, but the booklet makes it sound as though themes from the three previous movements not only recur, but are clearly recognisable. If anyone can point out where the themes recur in the finale's closing stages I'd be really grateful! 

I found the notes to the Naxos recording online and that also mentions the finale ending with themes from the whole symphony, yet I'm not hearing them. Any help gratefully received!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #469 on: March 12, 2017, 09:22:29 PM »
Mr. Minnow (and everyone else), have a look at this fantastic analysis of Ives’ The Unanswered Question:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/IEAa_MH0iCw" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/IEAa_MH0iCw</a>
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Offline Monsieur Croche

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #470 on: March 12, 2017, 09:59:20 PM »
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum and also new to Ives. I posted this in the introductions section of the forum:

I found the notes to the Naxos recording online and that also mentions the finale ending with themes from the whole symphony, yet I'm not hearing them. Any help gratefully received!

Yes.  Don't go at it hammer and tongs as if there is a deadline and a test!
Listen, repeatedly, without feeling the need to listen to it again and again, back to back.  Eventually, you will be familiar enough that you will recognize within the full texture the various themes or threads.  Your current 'situation' is analogous to rather too much wishing to immediately be able to pick out one color of thread in an entire tapestry; get familiar with the big picture, the more you do, details emerge and then become later to pick out and follow.

Patience, and periodic repeat listening, will give you the exposure and familiarity required.   It is to be hoped that at some point, without effort, those details you are hoping to recognize and follow will, then, just 'pop out at you,' after which, it will be next to impossible to unhear them, lol.


Best regards.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 02:14:37 AM by Monsieur Croche »
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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #471 on: March 13, 2017, 04:24:16 AM »
Hi everyone, I'm new to the forum and also new to Ives. I posted this in the introductions section of the forum:

I found -- and still very much find -- that the music of Ives does not lend itself to recording at all. Not, at least, when the initial appreciation hasn't taken place.
It's so dependent on space and subtle perception of musics intertwining, that I find most of this gets lost via a stereo. Perhaps, presumably high definition surround sound would do Ives really well, but lacking that, try to seek out any concert experience with Ives on the program that you can, if you want to have an easier time really digging his work.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #472 on: March 13, 2017, 04:25:59 AM »
I found -- and still very much find -- that the music of Ives does not lend itself to recording at all. Not, at least, when the initial appreciation hasn't taken place.
It's so dependent on space and subtle perception of musics intertwining, that I find most of this gets lost via a stereo. Perhaps, presumably high definition surround sound would do Ives really well, but lacking that, try to seek out any concert experience with Ives on the program that you can, if you want to have an easier time really digging his work.

I can affirm this, from the BSO's performance of the Fourth Symphony a few seasons back; an entirely different order of experience!
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Offline Mr. Minnow

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #473 on: March 13, 2017, 07:22:39 AM »
Thanks for these responses! I had assumed that as Ives' 1st symphony is written in a largely late-Romantic idiom, the recurrence of themes in the finale would be done in a fairly traditional way. Karl has explained in the thread in the introductions section of the forum that that's not the case, and that it's more a case of the themes being mashed up together in, as he put it, "glorious chaos". That would certainly make them a heck of a lot harder to spot!

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.

The analysis of The Unanswered Question was very intriguing. Some of the more technical bits are beyond my limited knowledge of music theory, but I get the basic point regarding the lack of synthesis in Ives' music. I've just ordered a cheap second hand copy of a CD conducted by Tilson Thomas which includes the original and revised versions. Should be interesting! 


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #474 on: March 13, 2017, 10:53:46 AM »
Thanks for these responses! I had assumed that as Ives' 1st symphony is written in a largely late-Romantic idiom, the recurrence of themes in the finale would be done in a fairly traditional way. Karl has explained in the thread in the introductions section of the forum that that's not the case, and that it's more a case of the themes being mashed up together in, as he put it, "glorious chaos". That would certainly make them a heck of a lot harder to spot!

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.

The analysis of The Unanswered Question was very intriguing. Some of the more technical bits are beyond my limited knowledge of music theory, but I get the basic point regarding the lack of synthesis in Ives' music. I've just ordered a cheap second hand copy of a CD conducted by Tilson Thomas which includes the original and revised versions. Should be interesting!

Glad you enjoyed that analysis of The Unanswered Question. I felt it was expertly done. A big thumbs up for that MTT recording. This particular recording also contains the Holidays Symphony and Central Park in the Dark which are both bonafide masterpieces IMHO. A great choice.
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Offline SurprisedByBeauty

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #475 on: March 13, 2017, 12:38:01 PM »

I hadn't considered that a stereo recording could well struggle to accurately capture various themes/strands of music intertwining without losing a lot of the detail. Hyperion's sound on this CD sounds very good, as their releases usually are, but there must be limits to how much subtle detail can be captured and accurately reproduced.


It's not even about good sound or not. It simply is no comparison, I find. Just take the unanswered question. The sound of "from behind and far away" simply doesn't happen on a stereo. Nor does the multiplicity of sounds going in seemingly all kinds of directions. Your ears can focus very differently in concert, also because they work in connection with your eyes. (You hear things you see that you wouldn't otherwise, for example [different composer, but Bruckner's double bass pizzicati in the 5th are an example; if they were recorded as they are played in concert, you'd never hear them.) And with Ives there's tons of that going on. I feel that to do Ives justice on recording, apart from using surround sound, one would almost have to make a radio-collage a la Glenn Gould out of it. In any case, you'd be surprised what a difference it makes in this composer (ditto Stockhausen, for many things; certainly Maurizio Kagel who doesn't really make sense on CD but will, in concert). Good sound, bad sound, live, CD, LP: In Beethoven it's more or less the same. Not really, but for all practical purposes, on most occasions, for most people. With Ives, I've learned the long, hard, eventually very sweet way how much of a game-changer it really is.

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #476 on: March 13, 2017, 01:05:43 PM »
While it’s true, recording engineers can’t capture all Ives’ music even in surround sound, this, however, doesn't take away from the experience of what a great pair of headphones and superb sounding recording can offer the listener. Hearing Ives’ music live has long been a dream of mine, but, unfortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to hear the music in concert, so I’m stuck with my limited means of listening to it.
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Offline Leo K.

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Charles Ives
« Reply #477 on: March 15, 2017, 07:15:57 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!


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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #478 on: March 15, 2017, 07:27:45 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!

Regarding Mahler's 7th, the one time I heard it live the mandolin and guitar players were sitting behind the last stand of the first violin - not a really prominent place nor one sonically preferred I would think. That might have something to do with it.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Charles Ives
« Reply #479 on: March 15, 2017, 07:28:18 AM »
I've never heard Ives in concert and I'm not in a city that plays him. I'd have to live in New York probably. That said, I live by my recorded collection and don't miss concerts. For example, Mahler's 7 sounds better on recordings than live in concert. Don't know why!

Good to see you’re still kicking around, Leo. :) Yes, it’s certainly a luxury to have so many great recordings at our disposal.
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