FANFARE  
January 13, 1997
  

       IVES: Second Pianoforte Sonata "Concord, Mass.,"1840-1860. Three-Page Sonata. Some South-Paw Pitching (Study No. 21). The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830's and 1840's (Study No. 9). Varied Air and Variations (Study No. 2 for Ears or Aural and Mental Exercise!!). Richard Trythall, piano. CENTAUR CRC 2285 [DDD]; 73:49. Produced by Victor E. Sachse. (Distributed by Qualiton.)
 

       Just reading the titles of the pieces on this recital reveals so much about the passions and contradictions of Charles Ives. There is, of course, the Americana, including an ode to the great national pastime, and also a reflection on the pivotal struggle of the American experience, the Civil War. There are, as well, the heavy nod to European culture, with such classical forms as air and variation, and the sonata (the pretentious use of the term "pianoforte" may not have been the composer's choice, but that of his editor). The absurdist parenthetical subtitle for the variations underlies the uneasy and intensely dynamic blend of the vernacular and the learned that characterizes most of the output of this grandly expressive artist.

     All of this sprawling energy is, of course, displayed in the music, achieving an apotheosis in the Concord Sonata, a work that overflows with ingenuity and profound eloquence. The work calls for something of a musical magician to draw all of its elements together into a cohesive structure, and Trythall offers a stunning rendition, with special command of its daunting rhythmic complexities, and especially, the frequent flashes of brilliant humor.

   Trythall, who is a fascinating composer in his own right, is no less successful in the shorter pieces. The "Three Page Sonata" from 1905 is an especially remarkable work, featuring a slow central section of Webern-like minimalism, and concluding with a bizarre, hallucinatory march-time finale that would sound no less startling if it were written today.

     In his excellent, insightful notes, Trythall observes that "the romantics objected to Ives' avant-garde technical innovations as being far too dissonant and complex. The modernists, on the other hand, objected to Ives' impassioned subjectivity..." Fortunately, we do not need to resort to doctrinaire considerations in judging this music today. This superb new production allows us to judge the great American original on his own terms.

                           Peter Burwasser

American Record Guide

Jul/Aug 1997, Vol. 60, Iss. 4; pg. 126, 1 pgs

 

IVES Piano Pieces: Concord Sonata; Three-Page Sonata; Some SouthSaw Pitching (Study 21); The Anti-Abolitionist Riots (Study 9); Varied Air and Variations (Study 2 for Ears or Aural and Mental Exercise!!) Richard Trythall - Centaur 2285 (Qualiton) 74 min

 

  I would describe Trythall's Ives as very much in the Kirkpatrick tradition: homespun rather than virtuosic, more glittering than nostalgic, lightly pedalled and sometimes brittle-sounding. With Kirkpatrick's two recordings gone apparently never to return, there is definitely a place in the catalog for Trythall's performances. He is impulsive and improvisatory, not the wellgroomed concert-hall pianist of the MarcAndre Hamelin variety (New World). He is ready and eager to slow down the chorale passages of 'Hawthorne' in a way that threatens to stop the work as a whole - but not as the lyrical centerpiece Hamelin creates. There is a disarming simplicity here to remind you of 19th Century American folk art. I will never give up Hamelin's glorious, tear-inducing concert-hall rendition of the Concord, but I'll be keeping Trythall's very different performance as well.

Trythall puts across the three studies - of the 27 that Ives wrote as one-off spontaneous conceptions or experiments - with a greater sense of their oddball unpredictability than Herbert Henck (Wergo). In fact, it's something of a tribute to this recording that you are never quite sure what direction the music will take, no matter how many times you hear it! Centaur's sonics are close and rather dry, in the authentic Kirkpatrick-Columbia manner. An excellent collection, with copious and excellent liner notes from the pianist.

 Arved Ashby

 

TIMINGS and CREDiTS:

Piano Music by Charles Ives

Richard Trythall, piano

 

Second Pianoforte Sonata "Concord, Mass., 1840-1860"

            1. Emerson..................................................................................18'41"

            2. Hawthorne...............................................................................14'29"

            3. The Alcotts................................................................................6'51"

            4. Thoreau..................................................................................12'34"

                        Lauren Weiss, flute

 

Three Page Sonata...............................................................................8'25" 

            Allegro moderato-Andante

            Adagio

            Allegro (March Time)

 

Some South-Paw Pitching   (Study # 21)..............................................3'00" 

 

The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830's and 1840's  (Study # 9).....2'57" 

 

Varied Air and Variations

(Study #2 for Ears or Aural and Mental Exercise!!!) ............................6'15" 

Largo (Protest) - Andante con spirito  (Theme)

Largo (Protest) - Andante con spirito  (Var. 1)

Largo (Protest) - March Time (Var. 2)

Largo (Protest) - March Time (Var. 3)

Largo (Protest) - Moderato (Var. 4)

Applause (non-protest) - Presto or so! (Var. 5)

 

                                                                                                                 Total Duration: 73'49"

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Credits:

 

Digital Recording:  "Coltempo Studio", Rome, Italy

Recording Engineers: Piero Schiavoni

                                      Alessandro Cercato

Steinway Technicians: Ditta Fabbrini, Pesaro

Piano Tuner: Pino Spinozzi

Recorded in December of 1992 and September of 1995, Villa Aurelia, American Academy in Rome

Cover Montage: Nona Hershey

Special thanks to flutist, Lauren Weiss

 

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Musical Editions used:

Second Pianoforte Sonata "Concord, Mass., 1840-1860": 2nd Edition, Arrow Music Press, Inc., 1947.

Some South-Paw Pitching: Mercury Music Corporation, 1949, Edited by Henry Cowell.

The Anti-Abolitionist Riots in the 1830's and 1840's: Mercury Music Corporation, 1949, Edited by Henry Cowell.

Three Page Sonata: Mercury Music Corporation, 1949, Edited by Henry Cowell and Mercury Music Corporation, 1975, Edited by John Kirkpatrick.

Varied Air and Variations: Merion Music, Inc., 1971, Edited by John Kirkpatrick and Garry Clarke.

 

 

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