Music we've been missing (part 12): Charles Ives
As Tuesday happens to be the 135th birthday of Charles Ives (2009 marks the 55th anniversary of his death), it seems as good an excuse as any to return to my list of music we've been missing -- especially orchestral repertoire that gets too little exposure, or none at all, around here.
During my recent trip to New York, I enjoyed greatly the chance to hear Ives' Second Symphony, played with typical brilliance by the New York Philharmonic, led by its new music director Alan Gilbert. It reaffirmed my conviction that American audiences should get to hear this piece a lot more often. And not just the Second, of course.
The Third is a wonderful work. (Last season, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra almost got to perform the Third, before having to suspend operations due to financial pressures; the orchestra is back in business, but that symphony has not been re-programmed.) And what about the
fascinating Fourth? A huge challenge in many ways, but an amazing sonic and intellectual experience.
There are other orchestral pieces, too, of course, that we need to hear. Then there's the more intimate Ives -- all the sonatas, quartets and songs. We really could, and should, be having Ives feasts on a regular basis.
So here's a nod to the composer on his 135th (movements from the Second and Fourth symphonies), and a plea to programmers: more Ives, please.