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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: 5 minutes 59 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)

General William Booth Enters into Heaven
First line:
Booth led boldly with his big bass drum
composer
author of text

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914) is one of Ives’s supreme achievements in the field of song. Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931) made his name as the writer (and pyrotechnical performer) of a modern ballad poetry whose strenuous rodomontade established an ‘American rhythm’ dealing with indigenous and contemporary subjects. He gained widespread acclaim with the publication in 1913 of his first collection, of which General William Booth Enters into Heaven, in memory of the founder of the Salvation Army, was the title poem.

Ives seems to have come across the text in a review of Lindsay’s poetry published in the New York Independent on 12 January 1914, since he sets only the thirty-one lines quoted in that review. The poem’s musical possibilities – and also no doubt the fervour of its Gospel religion – clearly fired him, and he had soon composed a setting (he called it a ‘glory trance’) for voice and piano. This was not published in his collection of 114 Songs, maybe because the possibility of using larger forces was present from the beginning. Ives made some sketches towards a brass band version, and a male chorus form. In 1934 the composer John J Becker, one of Ives’s staunchest admirers, arranged General Booth for bass voice, chorus and chamber orchestra, in which form it has become best known. But it remains a stunning tour de force in the original song version.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2005

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