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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67540
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: 9 minutes 46 seconds

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

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

'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)

'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)

'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)

'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)

'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 … 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' (ClassicsToday.com)

'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)

Central Park in the Dark
composer
July - December 1906

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Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
In 1902 Charles Ives resigned from his last organist–choirmaster job and thereby, as he put it, ‘quit music’. After that divorce from an audience, his experimental side burgeoned. Two small but important companion works from 1906 show his gathering focus and direction: The Unanswered Question and Central Park in the Dark. For the first time in history, these works create an aural collage by superimposing different kinds of music.

Ives wrote that Central Park in the Dark is ‘a picture-in-sound of the sounds of nature and the happenings that man would hear some thirty or so years ago (before the combustion engine and radio monopolized the earth and air) when sitting on a bench in Central Park on a hot summer night’. The ambience of the trees in New York’s Central Park is evoked in a mysterious, unchanging wash of strings, playing a series of atonal chords built on a pattern of expanding intervals. Bit by bit we begin to hear events around the park, conveyed by solo violin, two pianos, and a small group of winds and brass: vague rustlings, ragtime from a bar across the way (featuring a hit tune from the 1890s, Hello, Ma Baby). While the background remains unchanged and unperturbed, the external sounds swell in volume and activity to an Ivesian poly-everything climax conveying a runaway horse and carriage crashing into a fence.

After these human and animal interruptions the music fades back to the eternal hum of nature. Central Park is a prime example of Ivesian impressionism: not the external wind-and-sea Impressionism of Debussy, rather the impression of a moment or an event on the heart and soul of a listener.

from notes by Jan Swafford © 2006

Other albums featuring this work
'Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4' (SACDA67540)
Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4
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