Charles Ives [1874 - 1954] - 114 Songs [1888 - 1921]
"Charles Ives privately funded the printing of his 114 Songs in 1921. The oldest song included, "Slow March," is dated 1888; the rest date from virtually every year up to the time of publication. Some of the songs were newly arranged for voice & piano, or condensed from other sources explicitly for inclusion in the volume during 1920-1921. Ives' initial motivation was solely to be able to hold a book of his own songs in his hands, but in the "Preface" to the 114 Songs, Ives refers to other motivations that had occurred to him in the interim: "(It) was undertaken primarily in order to have a few clear copies that could be sent to friends who have been interested enough to ask for copies of some of the songs. It contains plenty of songs which have not been and will not be asked for."
A bit more than half of Ives' known output of 200 songs are represented in this collection. Among the best known items included are "Evening," "Charlie Rutlage," "Ann Street," "Serenity," "The Cage," "The Children's Hour," and "Memories." A few songs are sub-grouped into sets that are related thematically; for example "Old Home Day," "In the Alley," "A Son of a Gambolier," "Down East," and "The Circus Band" are grouped together as "5 Street Songs and Pieces." Stylistically the 114 Songs cover the breadth of Ives' musical terrain, from the endearingly simple to the mind-bogglingly complex; songs such as "The Collection," are straightforward enough to be appropriate for church use, while other pieces, like "from 'Paracelsus'," contain piano parts absolutely blackened with notes and voice parts full of ungainly intervals, sometimes as wide as a minor tenth. The extremes of both consonance and dissonance, stillness and cacophony are all present, and each bears Ives' unmistakable stamp of personality.
Interwoven with this musical diversity is an equally characteristic variety of expressive purpose. Ives' good-natured wit, irreverent humor, genuine sentimentality, and political and philosophical leanings are all well represented in his choices of texts, and each is wedded to music of surprising flexibility. One need only examine the smile-inducingly brief "1, 2, 3" -- which manages to make pithy patriotic commentary out of a mere sentence of text -- and the sprawling "Housatonic at Stockbridge" -- the lyrical expansiveness of which puts Ives on par with the any song composer in history -- to see how open-minded and individual Ives was in his approach to text setting.
Many writers have stated that the 114 Songs are the most important group of art songs ever written by an American composer. In an age where Tin Pan Alley material is often elevated to the level of art song in recitals and recordings, this has become more difficult to defend. However, there is no another collection of songs quite like the 114 of Ives. Ives wrote, "this package of paper, uncollectible notes, marks of respect and expression, is now thrown, so to speak, at the music fraternity, who will for this reason feel free to do dodge it on its way -- perhaps to the waste basket." Indeed, that's exactly where many copies of the rare first edition of this work ended up. However, the reputation of Ives' 114 Songs has improved considerably since then, and in 2001 MUSA announced the publication of 129 Songs, which is the first critical edition of 114 Songs, plus 15 others, edited by H. Wiley Hitchcock."
Dora Ohrenstein, soprano
Philliip Bush, piano
Mary Ann Hart, mezzo soprano
Dennis Helmrich, piano
Paul Sperry, tenor
Irma Vallecillo, piano
William Sharp, baritone
Steven Blier, piano
►Video Request Form: https://goo.gl/forms/E75YIWG9j2tiUYxj1
►Upload Schedule: https://sites.google.com/view/schnittke/schedule