Post by Jacky Meirovici
I want to make a heads up for the new digital release on DG of the four numbered symphonies by Charles Ives performed live by the LAP and Dudamel.These recordings were made live not before long the lockdown in LA.
The performances were justly praised, including by our moderator.
Indeed,in my opinion, which is not that of an Ivesian, Dudamel betters some of the most hailed recordings in this repertory, mainly Bernstein or MTT
He has an extraordinary sense of detail which is critical for the entangled polyphonic lines in this music.Aside one of the best Fourth, I liked especially the First.If this work is considered generally as merely an essay on European music written by an American composer,here the performance intimates the "real Ives" with sudden changes of mood, rhythm and even as being on the verge of losing control.
Charles IVES: Symphony No. 4 (1910–1925)
:: Dudamel/LAPO [DG ’20]
This is a pretty compelling recording of the Fourth by today’s kinder, gentler Ives standards, but it strikes me as being euphemized compared to Stokowski/ASO [Columbia ’65]. The playing is crassless and inordinately rich and beautiful, big gestures tend to be downplayed, volatility tempered, and tension is relatively low. The heroic little trumpet fanfare eight or nine seconds into the first movement is rather understated, for example, as is the “Let heaven and nature sing” trombone at the end of the Fugue, and the raucous and hectic/chaotic sections of the “Comedy” movement sound comfortably raucous and hectic/chaotic, never flirting with disaster. Some of this may be on account of the different editions used since Stokowski’s day, as all newer accounts seem to downplay big gestures—although it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility that Stokowski simply plays up big gestures. On the plus side, small gestures tend to be easier to discern, and Dudamel does a good job of idiomatically phrasing the myriad quotations that Ives crams into the work. The quieter and/or more mysterious music is played beautifully per se, but its effectiveness is slightly undermined by the low level of tension. All that said, I’m a decidedly crass, volatile, tension-craving, politically incorrect Ives listener, and many of the things that bother me here won’t bother other listeners at all and will likely please a great many of them. The recorded sound is colorful and easy on the ear but just a bit woolly, soft focused, and opaque, slightly dulling/blunting the impact of some of the playing.