This pair of exciting discs from the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Andrew Litton offers thrilling new recordings of all four of Charles Ives’s extraordinary symphonies. The idiosyncratic nature of Ives’s early musical training (simultaneous but competing marching bands, etc) is well known, but before we can delight in its fruits, we find Ives-the-student writing a (relatively) conventional Symphony No 1 under the watchful, if not always approving, stare of his tutor. The result is almost a pastiche of all that we know and love from the late-nineteenth century symphonic tradition: Brahms, Dvorvák, Tchaikovsky. Released from college in 1898, Ives rapidly shook off such influences, entered a new century and set about expanding his extraordinary vision through three further symphonies, culminating in the spiritual marathon of the fourth, which—Ives tells us—poses (and answers, threefold) the cosmic questions ‘what?’ and ‘why?’. Alongside the four symphonies we have Central Park in the Dark, and an Ives-sanctioned orchestral arrangement of his most popular (and outrageous) solo song, General William Booth Enters into Heaven. The commanding baritone of Donnie Ray Albert tells the story of General Booth—founder of the Salvation Army—approaching the pearly gates, the great unwashed in his following (Dallas Symphony Chorus) assured of being ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’: Hallelujah! Captured live during concerts in Dallas, the recorded sound is every bit worthy of these epic works. Both discs are available in conventional CD format as well as DSD multichannel hybrid SACD.
'Litton's new set is the one to have' (International Record Review)
'Overall these two CDs are a winning representation of the four Ives symphonies with the Dallas Symphony consistently impressive throughout' (Gramophone)
'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' (ClassicsToday. com)
'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)
T. Schulz in FonoForum 03 / 07: "Es ist ein enthusiastischer
Entdeckergeist in Kombination mit absolut souveränem
Blick für Architektur und Klangalchemie, der Littons
Interpretationen das Signum des Außergewöhnlichen
verleiht. Nehmen wir zum Beipiel die erste Sinfonie:
Natürlich ist sie eine Schülerarbeit - aber was für eine:
bewundernswert gearbeitet und mit einem uramerikanischen
Optimismus beseelt, der Kommendes ahnen und die vielen
Querverweise auf Brahms, Tschaikowsky und, vor allem,
Dvorák als nebensächlich erscheinen lässt."