IVES

BBC Music Magazine - - REVIEWS -

Orches­tral Set No. 1 (Three Places in New Eng­land); Orches­tral Set No. 2; A Sym­phony: New Eng­land Hol­i­days Seat­tle Sym­phony Cho­rale and Orches­tra/lu­dovic Mor­lot Seat­tle Sym­phony Me­dia SSM 1015 78:08 mins

Charles Ives’s col­lages, com­posed at the turn of the last cen­tury, present cut ’n’ paste tales of cel­e­bra­tion, tra­di­tion and ideals. This is the third disc of his works re­leased by the Seat­tle Sym­phony Orches­tra and their mu­sic direc­tor Lu­dovic Mor­lot. It com­prises con­cert per­for­mances recorded at the orches­tra’s Wash­ing­ton home, Be­naroya Hall, and is dis­trib­uted by the en­sem­ble’s en­ter­pris­ing in-house la­bel, Seat­tle Sym­phony Me­dia.

Three Places in New Eng­land is a med­i­ta­tion on the Amer­i­can Civil War, racial in­equal­ity and tragic loss. It is typ­i­cally Ivesian in that it com­bines mul­ti­ple story arcs, mo­tifs and mu­si­cal re­al­ism – such as the open­ing to the sec­ond move­ment, which fea­tures a march­ing band to sig­nify a Fourth of July pic­nic. The Seat­tle Sym­phony Orches­tra cap­tures the dream­like state, tak­ing on the dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters as the nar­ra­tives weave in and out of the over­ar­ch­ing story of rev­o­lu­tion.

Orches­tral Set No. 2 (Three Places in New Eng­land is some­times re­ferred to as Orches­tral Set No. 1) ex­plores sim­i­lar themes, but in a more ab­stract way; Mor­lot han­dles the com­plex polyphony well. The fi­nal move­ment – an ode to Bri­tish ocean liner RMS Lusi­ta­nia, which was sunk dur­ing the First World War, killing more than 1,000 pas­sen­gers – in­cludes a ghostly off­stage cho­rus, sung here by the Seat­tle Sym­phony Cho­rale, who em­pha­sise the hymn-like style to great ef­fect. The singers also ap­pear in the sub­se­quent New Eng­land Hol­i­days, a four-move­ment work that de­picts annual fes­tiv­i­ties. Claire Jack­son

rat­tle’s new ri­val: Robin Tic­ciati con­ducts De­bussy in Berlin

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