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“Litton hits his stride in the Third - an evocatively Romantic, overwhelmingly lyrical, and dangerously expansive interpretation. The result is ravishing… Hyperion's engineers have got it absolutely right.”
“Ives's symphonies were premiered almost 50 years after they were written – practically nothing was performed when he wrote it – but against all the odds they have achieved classic status. The composer was dismissive about the First Symphony, a student work, but this is now its eighth available recording. Litton has strong climaxes in the first movement, although there's a tendency for the woodwind to get swamped by the strings and brass, and sustains an almost Mahlerian passion in the Adagio. There's a magical pianissimo at the start of Central Park inthe Dark with no evidence of the audience at all – apparently they were warned that the performance was being recorded! Each recording of the Fourth is defined by the inevitably different balance of the dense textures in the second and fourth movements. For example Litton, supported by one associate conductor, rightly has the orchestral piano prominent in the shattering second movement and in the mystical finale the voices enter with unique effect. It's good to hear a little more than usual of the offstage players both here and in the first movement. The spacious Second Symphony takes its pervasive popular melodies and makes them symphonic – again a completely convincing performance. The only shock is the dissonant raspberry blown as the final chord – that's what folk fiddlers did to show the evening was over. The Third Symphony is saturated in hymn tunes and anyone familiar with earlier recordings will notice the few extra bits in the latest edition of the score. The bonus is a gutsy delivery of Becker's orchestral arrangement of the song General William Booth Enters into Heaven. Overall these two CDs are a winning representation of the Ives symphonies with the fine Dallas Symphony consistently impressive throughout. One might want to look back at certain historic versions of individual symphonies, but as a package this is well recorded, fastidiously presented and deservedly pre-eminent.”
“…these two CDs are a winning representation of the four Ives symphonies with the fine Dallas Symphony consistently impressive throughout.”
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