1926, vol. 12: Ives, Holst, Rachmaninoff

Just as Mark Twain had been the first writer to create a indigenous American style in literature — the first American author who wasn’t just a transplanted European — Charles Ives was the first composer to create an indigenous American style in classical music. His music is experimental and aggressively Modernist, so it’s not as immediately agreeable as Duke Ellington or Aaron Copland, but it evokes the American experience with an eloquence and candor that few other classical composers have matched, and none have exceeded. […] Click here to continue reading a transcript of this podcast.

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Shop for CD Recordings Recommended on This Episode:

Ives, Sunrise
Ives, Orchestral Set no. 3
Holst, The Golden Goose
Holst, The Planets (1923)
Holst, The Planets (1926)
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto no. 4 (1926)
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto no. 4 (1927)
Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto no. 4 (1941)
Rachmaninoff, Three Russian Songs

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AYICM: 1926, vol. 12

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3 Comments

3 Responses to 1926, vol. 12: Ives, Holst, Rachmaninoff

  1. Comment by William Block made on August 14, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Brian,

    As usual a great exposition of these three composers works from 1926. Ives occasionally touches me as inspired if a little rough around the edges. My favorite Ives’ song is “The Light That Is Felt” with text by Whitman. It’s very condensed, even sparse, but communicates a simple but profound message. There is a student performance on Youtube which is OK. Evelyn Lear made a LP of it back in the 60’s or 70’s which I had on tape but lost it. That version was truly moving. I’m curious to hear the new Naxos recording.

    “The Golden Goose” by Holst was interesting, certainly nothing as weighty as The Planets. Being very partial to strings my favorite Holst composition is the St. Paul’s Suite which is so idiomatic for strings and full of inspired writing.

    The Rachmaninoff “Three Russian Songs” in places almost casually reminded me of Orf’s “Carmina Burana”. The second one was quite beautiful. I tend to agree with your premise that being ignorant of meaning of the text heightens the pure musical enjoyment of a work. If I may refer to a quote of Garrison Keillor that alludes to the power of great music: “When you listen to Arthur Rubinstein play Chopin, you are no longer a liberal or a conservative or even an American, but simply a breathing sensate human being with a soul. Music lends you the freedom of your own mind. You listen to the Mahler Fourth Symphony or the Tchaikovsky Serenade for Strings, and it evokes scenes and visions of your own life and elevates them into the realm of art.”

    After listening to the 1926 version and then the 1941 version I was struck by what a great piece this actually is. I must confess that I have neglected listening to it in comparison to the Third Concerto. If I had a compositional fantasy it would be to take the wonderfully lyrical section that occurs about three minutes into the first movement and further develop it and reprise it near the end of the movement. A little personal anecdote: during my senior high school year the state music festival was held in Madison. It was my first visit there and as I had only one event I wandered down State Street past Victor Record Co. which had recently suffered a fire. They had some specials like three LP’s for $10 which wasn’t cheap back then. Anyway, along with a friend we purchased three LP’s one of which was the Rachaminoff Fourth Concerto as played by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. I still have that LP as it has much sentimental value to me. It was an Angel recording with a light brown textured effect and just a small identifying label along the upper right corner. As for second thoughts of a composer, Rachmaninoff always seemed to revise to shorter, more concise versions whereas the Star Wars director seemed wont to expand! As regards the 1927 version I did a double take at the name of the pianist William Black!

    Enjoyed the podcast. Shalom! William Block

    • Brian Linnell Comment by Brian Linnell made on August 21, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      That’s a great Garrison Keillor quote! And the Michelangeli album is a classic — how great to have owned one of the original pressings.

  2. Brian Linnell Comment by Brian Linnell made on May 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I’ve at last found a good recording of another Rachmaninoff work from 1926: his arrangement for violin and piano of Hopak, from Mussorgsky’s opera The Fair at Sorochyntsi:

    The album, Encores and More, is a superb collection of live performances by violinist Friedemann Eichhorn and pianist Peer Findeisen. Enjoy!

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