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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67516
Recording details: November 2004
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Mark Brown
Engineered by Julian Millard
Release date: September 2005
Total duration: 4 minutes 4 seconds

'Finley is always essentially a singer—his tone and command of the singing line are a pleasure in themselves. But he also has the absolute mastery of the composer's idioms and, with Julius Drake, his fearless and totally committed pianist, the technical, virtuosic skills to realise his intentions with (amid all the quirks) complete conviction of naturalness' (Gramophone)

'I cannot praise Gerald Finley’s performance too highly. It takes a very special artist to bring such unembarrassed fervour to General Booth Enters into Heaven and to encompass all its extraordinary changes of mood. What a contrast with the intimate and poetic setting of his own words in Berceuse and the magical Tom Sails Away. The whole disc is a revelation of beauty and owes much to Julius Drake’s equally perceptive playing of the piano accompaniments' (The Sunday Telegraph)

'… outstanding. Gerald Finley has a voice of great beauty, but it's always under the control of his penetrating intelligence: he risks bending pitches for expressive effect, and he adapts his golden timbre and almost English diction to the childlike tones of The Greatest Man and the cowboy drawl of Charlie Rutlage. Julius Drake is an equally versatile pianist, adept alike in simplicity and complexity … Overall, a disc offering sustained illumination and enjoyment' (BBC Music Magazine)

'This range calls for a voice of great flexibility, which Finley exhibits in singing that at will can be wickedly humorous, touchingly heartfelt or transcendentally awed. Julius Drake is an ever resourceful accompanist, matching Finley's ability to span Ives's breadth from Victorian ballad style to polytonal modernism' (The Daily Telegraph)

'Gerald Finley and his accompanist Julius Drake are fully able to convey the expressive range of these songs … Finley brings an refreshing refinement to many of these songs, and always cleans his boots thoroughly after tramping around in the great Ivesian outdoors' (International Record Review)

'Listening to this disc is like walking into the perfect bookshop; with reams and reams of unusual volumes to leaf through at leisure, and no one to disturb you … Finley's singing is communicative, assured and colourful, Drake's playing neat and proper. Absolutely brilliant' (The Independent on Sunday)

'Gerald Finley's magnificent, burnished baritone is the ideal instrument for the generous selection presented here … The Canadian baritone's superb diction in three languages is an especial pleasure. A triumph' (The Sunday Times)

'Gerald Finley and Julius Drake flourish in Ives's complex, often contradictory, never dull musical world. Listen to Swimmers and the extraordinary General William Booth, and I swear you'll be hooked' (Classic FM Magazine)

'Gerald Finley, Julius Drake, and Hyperion here give us the best-ever male-voice selection from one of the most astonishing volumes in vocal history … We ordinary citizens have the right to hear the whole Ives songbook, from these artists. So don't stop now, Hyperion' (Fanfare, USA)

'the perfect match of singer to song' (Financial Times)

'Brilliantly sung by Canadian baritone Gerald Finley, it has become the gold standard by which all future recordings of these pieces will be measured. Finley meets the daunting vocal and dramatic challenges with total commitment and superb musicianship' (The Scene Musicale, Canada)

'Ives, an insurance man for whom composing was an avocation, deserves wider recognition as one of the art-song greats. It's flawless, arresting performances like Finley's — and his supremely elegant accompanist, pianist Julius Drake — that will help make this happen' (Toronto Star, Canada)

'As the program unfolds, there's always what you're not expecting next—moments of piety or exultation, sarcasm or simple grief. When you're done, you've heard one of the most stimulating and provocative of song recitals, as well as one of the most varied and difficult' (Opera News)

'Gerald Finley's ebony-rich voice and lively imagination gets a workout in this wide-ranging program … Finley is superb throughout, with alert support from Julius Drake' (Time Out)

'Baritone Gerald Finley combines a glorious sound with great dramatic instinct. At the climax of General William Booth Enters Heaven, you feel he's holding nothing back. But his voice has an exquisite lightness too, and the moments of lyrical ecstasy are beautifully handled. With some great accompanying from Julius Drake, it's a disc crammed with colour and variety' (Metro)

The Housatonic at Stockbridge
First line:
Contented river in thy dreamy realm
composer
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1908 Ives and his wife Harmony took a Sunday morning walk along the Housatonic River near Stockbridge. Ives recalled that they ‘heard the distant singing from the church across the river. The mist had not entirely left the river bed, and the colours, the running water, the banks and elm trees were something that one would always remember’. He made a musical sketch, trying to capture this powerful impression of mist and waters, and in 1911 he worked this into a short-score draft. It became the finale, The Housatonic at Stockbridge, of his First Orchestral Set, Three Places in New England. In 1921 Ives recast the music for voice and piano, to words by Robert Underwood Johnson, in order to include it in 114 Songs.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2005

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