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Hyperion Records

SACDA67540 - Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4
SACDA67540

Recording details: January 2006
Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, USA
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Andrés Villalta
Release date: October 2006
Total duration: 77 minutes 48 seconds

'The performance of the Fourth is rightly the pinnacle of Andrew Litton's superb Ives cycle… Litton has the work's measure perfectly, balancing the visionary with the prosaic, and teasing out the most complex textures of a huge orchestra and a chorus with an exemplary clarity that is flawlessly captured by the recording' (The Guardian)

'Litton's new set is the one to have' (International Record Review)

'Overall these two CDs are a winning representation of the four Ives symphonies with the Dallas Symphony consistently impressive throughout' (Gramophone)

'I have no doubt that Andrew Litton's cycle will serve as the reference for many years to come. A major achievement, no doubt about it' (ClassicsToday.com)

'There is an unbuttoned passion, superb clarity of execution—particularly the brass—and, above all, a communication of spirit, probably down to Litton’s passion for the music, that just sweeps you along' (MusicWeb International)

'These are excellent performances in every respect: magnificently played, beautifully recorded, and conducted with unfailing intelligence. For all intents and purposes, Litton stands in a class of his own' (Classics Today)

'Ces performances captées sur le vif, formidablement souples et vivantes, imposent Ives en classique du XXe siècle; statut que l'Amérique lui reconnait depuis longtemps mais que le reste du monde accepte moins—à quelques exceptions près' (Diapason, France)

'Symphony no 1 is a work of youthful vigor… Litton opens the symphony in flowing style, he finds optimism in it, vitality, the freshness of a spring day…The finale is a corking movement, full of exuberance, energy, and invention. Wonderful! Litton and his splendid orchestra do it justice, not least the marching band episode toward the close…Symphony no 4 is an amazing piece that is here given a very assured performance' (Fanfare, USA)

'I forgot what it felt like to be proud to be an American until I heard Andrew Litton's hair-tearingly wonderful new live recordings of the Charles Ives Symphonies Nos. 1-4 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (Hyperion). These thrillingly played, deeply moving accounts of the numbered symphonies (there's also a Holidays Symphony MTT has conducted in Davies, and an unfinished Universe Symphony recently released in a new completion), most of them recorded one year ago, set the post-9/11 standard for these still-ground-breaking works by the composer who remains our nation's greatest symphonist. Although Ives' visionary Fourth Symphony provides the peak experience, Litton doesn't play favorites with the works. He lavishes the same microscopic attention to detail and industrial-strength grasp of their extravagantly complex forms on every measure of all four, without for a beat losing sight of their unfathomable humanity' (Bay Area Reporter, USA)

Symphonies Nos 1 & 4
This pair of exciting discs from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton offers thrilling new recordings of all four of Charles Ives’s extraordinary symphonies. The idiosyncratic nature of Ives’s early musical training (simultaneous but competing marching bands, etc) is well known, but before we can delight in its fruits, we find Ives-the-student writing a (relatively) conventional Symphony No 1 under the watchful, if not always approving, stare of his tutor. The result is almost a pastiche of all that we know and love from the late-nineteenth century symphonic tradition: Brahms, Dvorvák, Tchaikovsky. Released from college in 1898, Ives rapidly shook off such influences, entered a new century and set about expanding his extraordinary vision through three further symphonies, culminating in the spiritual marathon of the fourth, which—Ives tells us—poses (and answers, threefold) the cosmic questions ‘what?’ and ‘why?’. Alongside the four symphonies we have Central Park in the Dark, and an Ives-sanctioned orchestral arrangement of his most popular (and outrageous) solo song, General William Booth Enters into Heaven. The commanding baritone of Donnie Ray Albert tells the story of General Booth—founder of the Salvation Army—approaching the pearly gates, the great unwashed in his following (Dallas Symphony Chorus) assured of being ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’: Hallelujah! Captured live during concerts in Dallas, the recorded sound is every bit worthy of these epic works. Both discs are available in conventional CD format as well as DSD multichannel hybrid SACD.
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