Hyperion Records

Symphony No 1

'Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4' (CDA67540)
Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4
Buy by post £10.50 CDA67540  This album is not available for download
'Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4' (SACDA67540)
Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4
SACDA67540  Super-Audio CD — Deleted  
Movement 1: Allegro, con molto
Track 1 on CDA67540 [11'35]
Track 1 on SACDA67540 [11'35] Super-Audio CD — Deleted
Movement 2: Adagio molto, sostenuto
Track 2 on CDA67540 [8'29]
Track 2 on SACDA67540 [8'29] Super-Audio CD — Deleted
Movement 3: Scherzo: Vivace
Track 3 on CDA67540 [4'16]
Track 3 on SACDA67540 [4'16] Super-Audio CD — Deleted
Movement 4: Allegro molto
Track 4 on CDA67540 [12'50]
Track 4 on SACDA67540 [12'50] Super-Audio CD — Deleted

Symphony No 1
Ives always presented the First Symphony as a glorified homework assignment, done under duress as a senior thesis, of necessity written in late-Romantic style with heavy contributions of Brahms, Dvorák, and Tchaikovsky, its composition involving a steady struggle with Professor Horatio Parker, who was scandalized by the profuse modulations. Once in a while, though, Ives admitted a grudging affection for the piece.

It is true that few people who don’t know it would ever guess that this symphony is by Charles Ives. It seems a product of some 1890s European, or an American imitator. In fact, Ives was enormously gifted at imitating a range of styles, whether a Victorian parlour song or a German lied or a take-off of Debussy. Games with styles would be an important feature of his music. Here, he hits late Romanticism spot-on. And in the end, as usual, Ives imbues this work with a powerful personality. The First Symphony is tuneful, rousing, funny, sometimes spine-chilling. For all its rampant (and rambling) eclecticism it is one of the most entertaining and individual symphonies in the American repertoire.

It begins with a pulsing string figure over which a clarinet sings a wistful theme that Dvorák might have admired. In the background lurks a certain Romantic fatalism that will come and go in the movement until it boils over in the coda. The development section begins with a remarkable stroke: a quiet, haunting, endlessly rising chord sequence decorated with wisps of melody. Ives would not forget those chords; they turn up again in his valedictory Psalm 90.

After a second movement based on a Dvorákian quasi-spiritual for cor anglais comes a nimble and delightful canonic scherzo, which in scoring and execution can only be called masterful. The finale is entirely of the ‘banish care’ variety, filled with romping themes and vigorous march rhythms until it ends brassily with one of Ives’s grand parades of themes from the whole symphony.

from notes by Jan Swafford © 2006

Track-specific metadata
Click track numbers opposite to select

Details for CDA67540 track 2
Adagio molto, sostenuto
Recording date
22 January 2006
Recording venue
Eugene McDermott Concert Hall, Morton H Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, USA
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
Andrés Villalta
Hyperion usage
  1. Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 (CDA67540)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: October 2006
  2. Ives: Symphonies Nos 1 & 4 (SACDA67540)
    Disc 1 Track 2
    Release date: October 2006
    Deletion date: August 2013
    Super-Audio CD — Deleted
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