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  Исполнитель(и) :
   Ives, Charles  (Composer) , Deborah Richards (Piano) , Herbert Henck (Piano
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  Наименование CD :
   Piano Pieces



Год издания : 1993

Компания звукозаписи : Wergo

Время звучания : 53:03

Код CD : Wergo 60112-50

  Комментарий (рецензия) :

CD, стоящие на полке рядом : Classics (Modern Classics)      

Herbert Henck, Deborah Richards - 1984

Recorded in co-production with Bayerischer Rundfunk in Munich, BR (Studio 3), July 1984.

========= from the cover ==========

Study No. 20: Even durations - unevenly divided

This composition - the first version written ca. 1908, revised after 1914, but published only in 1981 - belongs to a group of studies which, as far as is known, was to contain at least 27 pieces of which many however remain uncompleted or are lost. These studies seem to have been less a formal cycle than a loose collection of single compositions in which Ives was able to pursue spontaneously certain conceptions and experiments without having to relate them to an encumbering, traditional form. The subtitle, 'Even durations - unevenly divided", indicates a rhythmic phenomenon that emerges when in a particular meter (measure) through a shift of accent (syncopation) the sense of meter changes to new strong beats and these are eventually perceived to be the main pulse. Another shift of accent can lead back to the original meter or to a new one, a process one can call metrical modulation. Because here Ives in one voice - one hand - allows the original meter to continue, two parallel but different meters are established and thereby two distinct tempi (for example a 4/8 pulse against 9/16 at Bar l0ff., or 4/8 against 3/8 in the passage beginning at Bar 83ff.).

This technique of simultaneous opposition of different tempi is found relatively often in Ives' work and leads (particularly in the compositions for large ensembles where a wider layering of tempi can easily take place with a larger number of instruments) to structures in which so many tempi are superimposed that they interlock into a new type of sound texture. This is easily explained as the sum of its parts; but in listening the separation of the texture into single voices, motifs, and different rates of speed is rendered almost impossible by the growing complexity, and only the introduction of a new concept such as that of statistics allows the phenomenon to be grasped more precisely. This concept which proved exceptionally fruitful in the music of the 1950's describes more adequately the whole impression of such intertwined parts the more the individuality of the single elements is subsumed in their collectivity. Beyond this special treatment of rhythm and tempo, it is generally characteristic however of Ives' composing how radically he makes opposing musical materials simultaneous and thereby unifies them. The simultaneous playing of a waltz and a march {Three-Page Sonofa), the merciless parallelism of unrelated tonalities (Waltz-Rondo), the hard collision of consonance and dissonance, of "found" materials with invented ones, all of this is responsible for the inner tension of his language and reflects beyond the musical issues to social ones that became meaningful for the mainstream of western music only decades after Ives. What his contemporaries saw for the most part as ruptures, inconsistencies, and paradoxes, achieved affirmation and dimension only much later (for instance through the work of Henry Cowell or the serial composers), confirming Ives today as one of the most independent and clearsighted musicians of his generation and making his neglect during his life seem one of the most fatal misunderstandings in the musical history of our century. As far as form is concerned, Study No. 20 poses no difficulty for the listener; the single parts are like blocks joined together, and all in all represent a symmetrical construction. At the center of the work is a "Trio" with themes arranged from American folk music as well as ragtime elements. The flow is steadily interrupted by "whip chords" which are built out of the twelve tones of the chromatic scale. This trio, which astonishes one with its unambiguous harmony, is framed by two identical march sections; these are in turn surrounded by two identical, densely contrapuntal sections which present clear orchestral characteristics and could be seen as keyboard reductions. The opening section of the piece, which in the symmetry of the form appears again at the end, begins with a vague oscillating sound over a pedal-point which after a brief pause leads into a ragtime that also harmonically marches in place. A segment of white and black clusters (referring to the colors of the piano keyboard) prepares the following march which appears again fragmentarily as the coda of the piece and should sound as if it were marching away into the distance.

Study No. 21: Some South-Paw Pitching!

The subtitle of this study, presumably written in 1909, refers to Ives' enthusiasm for baseball. A pitch with the "south paw" is a throw executed with the left hand, and consequently as might be foreseen this piece is a demanding exercise for the pianist's left hand, "to toughen up the paw" as a note beneath the title indicates. A biographical footnote in the first printing of this piece says, This piece was written in fun and excitement, after seeing a good baseball game. 'This remark is more easily understood when one realizes Ives himself was an active player on the baseball team at Yale University.

After a quiet moment of concentration the piece gradually takes off in an increasingly fast tempo only to recede again in retrograde following a short "quasi presto". A terse coda is attached here with the instructions "Allegro molto, spirito, agiganto, hit-opo, conswato!" - onomatopoeic musical terms; it seems to gallop away, stops suddenly, reflects - "after a 2nd thought look for a boy in front row!" - and ends in an unexpected F major: There! The theatrical glance into the first row, which naturally cannot be produced on a recording, permits a connection between the sports game and the situation of the concert, and represents one of those little scenes of musical theater which from time to time may be encountered in Ives' works and which always throw a critical light on roles and rituals.

Study No. 22

Two worlds stand in opposition in the closest proximity: a polyphonic movement, conceivably orchestral, spreading out from the middle register with steadily increasing volume and speed and whose strong contrast between the loudly accented outer voices and soft inner voices lends the section special color; this glutinous "Andante maestoso" encounters a very fast, virtuoso, but easily followed rhythmic passage which descends from the point to which the first section ascended. The first part is repeated, and a very abbreviated version of the fast second part follows. A two-bar "Adagio" echoes not only the first theme, but also one of the important motifs of the Piano Sonata No. 7, in the last movement of which the beginning of this study is quoted as an insert.

Varied Air and Variations - "Study No. 2 for Ears" or "Aural and Mental Exercise!!!"

This study - parts of which were published in 1947 with the title Three Protests - probably dates from the year 1923. Simply put, these miniatures present the scene between the concretizing player and his audience in which their reactions to each other are expressed musically. Concerning this, Ives covers the musical text with numerous comments which are not lacking in sarcasm and leave no doubt as to what Ives thought of the habits of his audience. In this short, extraordinary piece Ives raised a subject which is becoming more and more relevant today and which one could describe as the relationship between art and society, between avant-garde and audience. In this regard the piece could be called a little sociological study which admittedly reveals just as comical as bitter features.

After the public has already expressed a flamboyant protest at the mere appearance of the performer, a unison theme enters executed over a range of three octaves. This theme is remarkable not only in that it contains all twelve tones, but also that each of the eight bars in alternating 6/4 and 4/4 meters has a different rhythmic structure of great implication. Protest. The previously stated theme, the "Air", is now presented in a loud first variation above a soft chord progression that should sound as if it were coming from the distance. Protest. The theme now appears with academic pedanticism simultaneously in its original form as well as its inversion, however the inversion is loud and the original played quietly. The extreme orthodoxy crumbles, it accelerates unexpectedly, and collides with a large cluster that obviously sets off another protest. The second attempt approaches the problem according to the rules with the voices in stretto imitation at respectable fifth intervals, but leading to the same disaster as the first. After renewed protest reason appears to triumph. Sixteen "nice measures" are promised with #E minor just as much as possible!" The theme is harmonized in four parts whereby it is impossible not to notice how nonsensically the traditional chord changes are repeatedly used leading to strange grinding deceptive and half cadences. After this hollowness has even been inflated with pathos, the right tone finally seems to be achieved; this mood of feeble artistic compromise is generally celebrated; more exactly: with a c-major passage played forte to the eleventh power. This speaks for itself. On the part of the player this produces nothing short of a fit of rage and regardless of the warning instruction - that he ought to be polite, otherwise he will no be engaged and paid anymore for the next nice afternoon tea concert - he begins to hurl sounds around himself, wildly repeating the first variation and a part of the second, and again encountering the fatal cluster from before with which this time however he achieves the last word.

Waltz-Rondo

is one of Ives1 most insolent compositions. The main theme consists of a waltz melody whose special charm lies in that every two measures it moves a half-step too high for its key suggesting thereby the effect of an out-of-tune piano. This honky-tonk theme alternates with interludes until in a coda fragments of the interludes are gathered together, ragtime rhythms are introduced, and popular tunes woven in. How consciously Ives knows how to play with the habit and expectations of his listeners is shown in the fourth interlude: he comments maliciously on the unexpected entrance and immediate suppression of the waltz theme with the words "wrong signal".

Three-Page Sonata

This sonata, named for the three pages on which the manuscript was written, places - as do almost all the piano compositions of Ives - its sharply contrasted sections in immediate juxtaposition, so it is difficult initially to make out what the musical materials have in common. And yet this little sonata is composed with unusual thematic strictness using the B-A-C-H motif with which the piece begins. The reason for the difficulty in detecting this motivic structure may be that the strong character of the music - examples would be the ragtime and march - tends to outweigh everything else. In some cases the quality of construction is so striking that the application of mathematical permutations as well as several 12-tone rows can be demonstrated. Also unusual for the period of its composition is the recommended addition of bells or a celesta which allows the melody of the "Adagio" section (where the bells of London's Big Ben are evoked) to rise clearly above the polyphonic substrata.5 As with many other piano movements by Ives, one may notice in this sonata as well that it is treated like a disguised orchestral work; one can easily imagine how the complex rhythms might be orchestrated. A waspish note is preserved in which Ives writes concerning this sonata: "made mostly as a joke to knock the mollycoddles out of their boxes and to kick out the softy ears!"

Study No. 9: The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830's and 1840's

This composition has its background in Ives' sympathy with the anti-slavery Abolitionist Movement. Ives' grandfather was a confirmed abolitionist, and there can be no doubt that his grandson shared and defended his ideas about the freedom of Man. The protagonists of transcendentalism, with whom Ives was occupied for many years and to whom he eventually dedicated one of his most important works, the Concond Sonata, lent moral support to the freeing of the North American slaves; so it is no wonder that this piano piece shares some material with the Emerson movement of the Concord Sonata as well as the quotation from Beethoven's fifth symphony which culminates this study. One is touched by the great seriousness of the piece which extends from the first notes. Ives called this initial gesture, which is repeated at the end of the piece, a brief prayer for freedom. As in no other piano piece, Ives here uses the lowest register of the instrument, out of which he develops a dark but lively layer of cluster-like chords and dissolving figurations.

Three Quarter-tone Pieces for Two Pianos

The exact period of composition is not really known; certainly it seems clear that the last of the three pieces, the Chorale, is the earliest, for whose composition a period as large as 1903-1914 is probable. Originally this piece was intended for strings. The two other pieces seem to date from the years 1923-1924 and thereby fall into Ives' last creative period; however the "Allegro" derives important material from a group of Ragtime Dances (1900-1911), most of which were written for a small theater orchestra and also partly used in the Piano Sonata No. 1. A further source for this "Allegro" is found in the scherzo, TheSee'r, a quintet for winds, piano, and drum written before 1913. This dating differs somewhat from Henry Cowell's statement that Ives arranged some old quarter-tone pieces for two pianos in 1914. Ives credited his research into quarter-tone tuning to the influence of his father who had conducted similar experiments usincftuned glasses. Ives writes as well about two pianos in the Sunday School room of New York's Central Presbyterian Church where he was organist from 1900 to 1902. These two instruments were approximately a quarter-tone apart in their tuning, and Ives took the opportunity to try out some chords.9 The phenomenon of quarter-tone tuning impressed Ives so strongly that he devoted to it a theoretical study with the title, Some "Quarter-tone Impressions" (1925).10 In the last chapter of this essay he refers briefly to his own compositional efforts in this direction and points out that the first and third movements of the Three Quarter-tone Pieces were originally intended for only one player using a quarter-tone piano with two keyboards. Concerning the first piece Ives further commented that the quarter-tones are arranged in a "primarily diatonic' scale and used primarily as "passing notes and suspensions"; the chords are to be understood as "extensions or variants". The second piece uses quarter-tone tuning more as color "to relieve the monotony of literal repetition". The Chorale in contrast undertakes to apply "pure quarter-tone harmonic lines". Especially original is the ending of the Chorale in which the patriotic hymn "America" ("God Save the King") and a part of the "Marseillaise" cross in iridescent quarter-tones.

-Herbert Henck (english translation by John Patrick Thomas)


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   1 Study No 20, Even Durations - Unevenly Divided         0:10:20 S. 104 (K. 3B17)
   2 Study No 21, Some South-Paw Pitching!         0:02:30 S. 105 (K. 3B17)
   3 Study No 22, Andante Maestoso-Allegro Vivace, Etude For Piano         0:02:32 S. 106 (K. 3B17)
   4 Varied Air And Variations - Study # 2 For Ears And Mental         0:06:25 S. 124 (K. 3B20)
   5 Waltz-Rondo         0:05:25 S. 125 (K. 3B18)
   6 Three-Page Sonata         0:08:08 S. 89 (K. 3B15)
   7 Study No 9, The Anti-Abolitionist Riots In The 1830's And 1840's         0:04:23 S. 97 (K. 3B17)
   8 Three Quarter-tone Pieces For Two Pianos         0:13:19 S. 128 (K. 3C3)

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