Hilary Hahn Releases Charles Ives: Four Sonatas on October 11, 2011

She couldn't release it one day earlier for my birthday???

Hilary Hahn will release her newest album Charles Ives: Four Sonatas on October 11, 2011. Of recording these seldom-performed pieces, Hahn writes, "Their brooding, plotted beauty, their wit, their quicksilver modernity, and the dreams they evoke of a changing time and place, drew us through every hour." Hahn's long-time collaborator, pianist Valentina Lisitsa, joins her on the album.

This Deutsche Grammophon disc contains all four of Ives's sonatas for violin and piano. The First Sonata is relatively conservative: dense but mostly tonal. Packed with quotations from American folk music, the First Sonata in many ways evokes, in Ives's own words, "the sadness of the old Civil War days." The Second Sonata is split into three movements, each carrying an affective name: "Autumn", "In the Barn", and "The Revival". This sonata is, as album liner notes written by Robert Kirzinger explain, "in the unusual slow-fast-slow pattern". Shifting from Adagio maestoso to ragtime fiddle-dance syncopations to Largo, the piece quotes substantially from American hymnal music. The next sonata was completed in 1914. In Ives's own words, the Third Sonata aims to "express the feeling and fervor - a fervor that was often more vociferous than religious - with which the hymns and revival tunes were sung at the Camp Meetings held extensively in New England in the 70's and 80's." Kinzinger notes that the Third Sonata is "the most individual from a structural standpoint". The final sonata was originally intended for Ives's eleven-year-old nephew, and is consequently lighter in mood and smaller in scope than the other three pieces. Kinzinger writes, "As with many old and pleasant memories, this one is slippery, fading, hesitating, and finally stopping altogether, as though we find ourselves drifting off in mid-thought."

Charles Ives (1874-1954) is considered by many to be the father of American classical music. After the musical guidance and encouragement of his father, a U.S. Army bandleader in the Civil War, Ives began his career while a student at Yale University. After college, he became a successful businessman in the insurance industry but still found time to follow his true passions: composition and musical innovation. His work is characterized by experimentations with structure, harmony, and tone as well as an awareness and fondness for America's rich musical tradition. Ives's sonatas in particular engage with and often quote extensively from American folk songs, hymnals, and spirituals. His oeuvre is perhaps most accurately described as both fearlessly avant-garde and nostalgic for a forgotten New England. Throughout his life, Ives was a generous patron and friend to struggling young composers and financially fragile new music projects. He gave large amounts of his own money to support musicians and often paid for the publication of original works. Ives's compositions were not widely recognized during his lifetime until his work was championed by Aaron Copland and Gustav Mahler, among others. In 1947, at the age of 72, Ives was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his Third Symphony, a piece then more than three decades old.


Anonymous said…
Thanks so much for posting the news about the release! I heard Hilary and Valentina play all 4 of the Ives Sonatas live, and this is such a great thing that they have recorded them for CD!
BTW, don't feel bad about the birthday timing, Chip. They released the Higdon Concerto CD on my birthday last year, except it was in Japan!
Chip Michael said…
LOL - Wasn't the Hidgon Concerto a great CD? I can't say I'm really a fan of anyone, but... I come pretty close to being a fan of Ms. Hahn. Have yet to see her in person *sigh*
Anonymous said…
It IS quite an experience to have!
The Higdon/Tchaikovsky CD should have been a Grammy nominee/winner, but I guess they can't do that if the piece wins the Pulitzer the same year.
Chip Michael said…
Yea, I'm not sure how the Grammy's work as I agree the Higdon/Tchaikovsky CD should have at least been in the running, what with a Pulitzer piece on the recording.

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