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Hyperion Records

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Early Spring Afternoon, Central Park (1911) by Willard Leroy Metcalf (1858-1925)
Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York / Bridgeman Art Library, London
Track(s) taken from CDA67644
Recording details: February 2007
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: February 2008
Total duration: 1 minutes 58 seconds

'Outstandingly well sung and played, equally well recorded, and highly recommendable to all lovers of fine songs and fine singing' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This is a highly successful follow-up to Gerald Finley and Julius Drake's first Ives recital from 2005. Here there is the same sort of mix, from familiar songs such as The Circus Band and Watchman! to an early requiem for the family cat and the intriguing title song, Romanzo, di Central Park, with its obbligato violin part atmospherically played by Magnus Johnston. Finley is his usual charismatic self, at home as much in the hymnody as the parody, and he is careful not to over-sentimentalise the more homely numbers while injecting pathos into the war songs. Drake projects Ives's often complex accompaniments with clarity and style' (The Daily Telegraph)

'The programme has been selected and sequenced with care … the booklet includes not just texts but also comments by Calum MacDonald about every single song. Hyperion always gets these things right; even the cover art is a bull's-eye. Finley and Drake give no cause for complaint either … the engineers have done their work well. Finley and Drake are perfectly balanced and they perofrm in an environment of intimate warmth' (International Record Review)

'Finley is a wonderfully assured interpreter … perfectly registering their switchback changes of mood and presenting their occasional lapses into sentimentality with total conviction. More than any other performers on disc, Finley and Drake establish these songs, with all their quirks and flights of fantasy, among the most important of the 20th century in any language' (The Guardian)

'Gerald Finley has everything and more in his darkly full-bodied voice to match the often formidable technical and expressive requirements of Ives's songbook—reinforced by Drake's elastic, expressive piano … this is a must-buy album' (The Times)

'The variety of songs recorded here is extraordinary … Gerald Finley's warm baritone sits right inside Ives's soundworld, while Drake refuses to be fazed by the idealistic piano writing' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Listening to a collection such as this reveals genuine delights of phrase and harmony. These are, by and large, not songs for 'showy' singers, yet several of the numbers more citational of popular song do demand some verbal panache, which the Canadian bass-baritone can certainly supply, along with fine-honed dynamic control and a warm, solidly delineated tone … Drake, very sensitive as to tempo and mood, proves willing to haul out the trombones when needed' (Opera News)

'It's the best kind of fun. The astonishing range Ives exhibits in the 30 songs on the disc—some comic, others serious—is astonishing. Finley, in even better voice than on the Barber CD, and Drake, relishing Ives' complexities, dig deep into them all' (Bay Area Reporter, USA)

'Gerald Finley's second disc of Ives songs is every bit as wonderful as the first. Finley is the perfect song recitalist … he can sound dreamy, tender, raucous, heroic, and serene, all without ever disfiguring his timbre or letting the pitch waver. Julius Drake offers accompaniments that are as perfect and knowing as the singing, and the engineering couldn't be better … this is magnificent—vocal recitals don't come any better' (ClassicsToday.com)

In the Alley
First line:
On my way to work one summer day
composer
1896
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
One of a group that Ives described as ‘Street Songs’, In the Alley, to a text of his own, is a song rife with autobiographical associations and jokes. Ives composed it in 1896, ‘after a session at Poli’s’—a reference to Poli’s Theatre in New Haven, where Ives used to go to hear the seven-piece orchestra and their pianist George Felsberg accompanying vaudeville shows and blackface minstrels. Felsberg was legendary for being able to improvise and accompany while reading a newspaper—one bar in In the Alley designates the right hand to turn the newspaper while the left hand takes the right hand part. In 114 Songs it is proclaimed as ‘Not Sung by Caruso, Jenny Lind, John McCormack, Harry Lauder, George Chappell or the Village Nightingale’, and Ives added a note: ‘This song (and the same may be said of others) is inserted for association’s sake—on the grounds that that will excuse anything; also, to help clear up a long disputed point, namely:—which is worse? the music or the words?’

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2008

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