<< -- 4 -- Peter Dickinson A BRAVE PIANIST
The studies are not as familiar or as frequently recorded as the two
sonatas, although the Ives veteran Alan Mandel has covered most of them.
The numbering is confusing since some were never completed. However, those
that survive are vintage Ives and -- in typical Ives fashion -- they often
contain references to other pieces and other composers. Thus Study No 22
includes 'Hello my Baby', the 1899 Howard and Emerson ragtime hit-song which
appears prominently in Central Park in the Dark. Here's the passage
leading up to it and then the syncopated pop song itself. Nobody but Ives
could have written this [listen -- CD2 track 11, 0:59:1:59].
Philip Mead's recording finishes with the Five Take-Offs, again
vintage Ives and the least familiar music on these two CDs. No 2, called
Rough and Ready, is most certainly that. It's another example of
how Ives associated dissonance and technical demands with masculinity, overcoming
challenges, and prowess on the baseball field. As usual Mead rises to the
occasion with formidable command. However, to end this review, I think we
should move away from the energetic questing Ives and hear a moment of tranquil
repose. This is the third Take-Off called 'Song Without (Good) Words'.
It's an oasis of calm, a mood beautifully caught here, and it comes close
to the end of a thoroughly enterprising collection of Ives' piano works,
which is especially valuable for the shorter pieces [listen
-- CD2 track 14, 0:00-1:12].
Copyright © 22 January 2003
Peter Dickinson, Aldeburgh, Suffolk, UK
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Varied Air - Charles Ives - the piano music
MSV CD92037 (a+b) DDD Stereo NEW RELEASE (2 CDs) 64'32"/68'44" - TT 133'16" 2002 David Lefeber, Metier Sound & Vision
Philip Mead, piano
Piano Sonata No 2 (1911-1912); Three-Page Sonata (1905); Study No 2 - Varied Air and Variations (c1923); Study No 9 - The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830s and 1840s (c1908-1909); Waltz-Rondo (c1911); Piano Sonata No 1 (1902-1910); Study No 20 (c1908); Study No 21 - Some South-Paw Pitching! (c1909); Study No 22 (c1909); Study No 23 - Baseball Take-Off (c1909); Five Take-Offs (1906-1907)