Thursday, March 15, 2007

Charles Ives

I once sang a lot of songs by Charles Ives. He was someone I felt close to. Some of these songs are on this recording of Ives Songs with Susan Graham and Pierre Laurent Aimard which also includes the Concord Sonata. “Ann Street,” a place in New York City, I think, and “From the Swimmers.” I didn’t attempt “Like a sick eagle,” though I would have if I’d known that no one would actually do the glissandi. The song is written with the clear instruction that the singer is to gliss between every note in a phrase. Big ones. But no one does it. It will have to go on existing only in my imagination. She puts in one tiny one. Perhaps it’s too frightening.

Ives is peculiarly American. Spare and dense simultaneously. Cooly modern and sentimental at once. “Memories (A-Very Pleasant, B-Somewhat sad) exactly captures this duality in his character. I felt exactly like that. He is perhaps closest to Satie in spirit.

Susan Graham captures it very nicely.

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