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Track(s) taken from CDA67516

General William Booth Enters into Heaven

First line:
Booth led boldly with his big bass drum
author of text

Gerald Finley (baritone), Julius Drake (piano)
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 (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

General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914) [«Le général William Booth entre au paradis»] est l’une des mélodies suprêmes de Ives. Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931) devint célèbre pour avoir écrit (et interprété avec éclat) des ballades modernes, dont la vigoureuse rodomontade fonda un «rythme américain», sur des sujets américains contemporains. En 1913, la publication de son premier recueil lui valut une large reconnaissance, avec en poème-titre ce General William Booth Enters into Heaven, en mémoire du fondateur de l’Armée du Salut.

Ives semble avoir découvert ce texte le 12 janvier 1914, dans une critique du New York Independent consacrée à la poésie de Lindsay, sa mise en musique ne concernant que les trente et un vers cités par le journal. À l’évidence, les possibilités musicales offertes par ce poème – et aussi, sans nul doute, son évangélisme fervent – l’enflammèrent et, bien vite, une mise en musique pour voix et piano, qualifiée de «glory trance», vit le jour. L’œuvre ne fut pas publiée dans les 114 Songs, peut-être parce que Ives disposa tout de suite de forces plus importantes. Il fit quelques esquisses en vue de deux autres versions: une pour fanfare et une pour chœur d’hommes. En 1934, le compositeur John J. Becker, l’un des plus fervents admirateurs de Ives, arrangea General Booth pour voix de basse, chœur et orchestre de chambre, forme sous laquelle cette œuvre est la plus connue, même si la version mélodique originale demeure un incroyable tour de force.

extrait des notes rédigées par Calum MacDonald © 2005
Français: Hypérion

General William Booth Enters into Heaven (1914) [„General William Booth betritt den Himmel“] gehört zu Ives’ feinsten Errungenschaften im Liedgenre. Vachel Lindsay (1879–1931) schuf sich einen Namen als Schriftsteller (und sprachvirtuoser Rezitator) moderner Balladen. Seine anstrengende Rodomontade schuf einen „amerikanischen Rhythmus“, seine Texte beschäftigten sich mit einheimischen und zeitgenössischen Themen. Die Veröffentlichung seiner ersten Gedichtsammlung 1913 fand großen Beifall. Das in dieser Sammlung aufgenommene Gedicht General William Booth Enters into Heaven, das dem Gründer der Heilsarmee gedenkt, gab auch der Veröffentlichung als Ganzes ihren Namen.

Ives stieß wahrscheinlich auf den Text in einer Zeitungsrezension über Lindsays Gedichte, die in der New York Independent vom 12. Januar 1914 erschien, vertonte er doch nur die 31 Zeilen, die in der Rezension zitiert wurden. Das musikalische Potential des Gedichtes – und zweifellos auch der Eifer seiner Gospelreligion – scheinen Ives eindeutig angesprochen zu haben. Bald schrieb er eine Vertonung (er nannte sie eine „Ehrenekstase“) für Gesang und Klavier. Sie wurde nicht in seine Sammlung der 114 Songs aufgenommen, vielleicht weil Ives von Anfang an die Möglichkeit für eine Erweiterung auf ein größeres Ensemble sah. Ives begann, eine Fassung für Blechblaskapelle und eine für Männerchor zu skizzieren. 1934 schuf John J. Becker, einer von Ives’ treuesten Verehrern, eine Fassung für Bassstimme, Chor und Kammerorchester. In dieser Fassung fand das Werk seine weiteste Verbreitung. In seiner originalen Liedfassung bleibt es aber ein beeindruckender Kraftakt.

aus dem Begleittext von Calum MacDonald © 2005
Deutsch: Elke Hockings

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