Ives: Piano Sonatas

In this video

Composer: Charles Ives
Artists: Eleonore Pameijer (flute), René Eckhardt (piano)

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Those fortunate enough to have heard Charles Ives play speak of his great talent for improvisation. He would portray his wildest fantasies on the piano, giving commentary or singing enthusiastically all the while. Something very special would happen when he gave his associations free rein. Tunes, hymns or ragtimes would emerge, often nothing more than mere fragments that provided fresh impulses for the improvisation. Ives was a master of the art of quotation and those familiar with the riches of American popular melody of 100 years ago are still finding new allusions in his work. The two piano sonatas abound in examples of his fantasizing on the American musical tradition. In them, the composer in Ives takes precedence over the improviser; he forges the many, seemingly unrelated musical snatches into a closely knit unity. They are tales that rise far above treasured childhood memories. lgor Stravinsky once rightly said: ‘Charles Ives was an original man, a talented man, a courageous man. Let us honour him with his works.’

‘It was in the Seventies that I first heard of the American composer Charles Ives. His work and the story of his life made a deep impression on me. Charles Ives created a musical world of unbounded fantasy, free of all rules and intimately connected with life itself. That is why so much goes on in his music at the same time: mystery, unbridled mirth, chaos, harmony. Through my years of experience with the music of Stockhausen, Boulez and Xenakis, I have come to gain command over the technique needed to perform the piano sonatas by Ives. These compositions are an undoubted high point in the modern piano repertoire.’ (René Eckhardt, pianist)

Track list:
00:00:00 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: I. Adagio con moto – Andante con moto – Allegro risoluto ‘with a certain kind of poise and dignity but not exactly slower’ Agitando ‘in a kind of furious way (hit hard)’/‘ease down’ Adagio cantabile
00:07:53 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: IIa. Allegro moderato (1st Verse) – Andante (1st Chorus)
00:09:29 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1 IIb. ‘In the Inn’: Allegro (2nd Verse) – Meno mosso (2nd Chorus)
00:13:30 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: III. Largo – Allegro – Largo
00:20:39 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: IVa. (crotchet = 88–100) ‘a study in “Rag” for 5s, 3s and 2s together’
00:21:51 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: IVb. Allegro – Presto (as fast as possible) – Slow
00:24:52 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 1: V. Andante maestoso – A tempo (Andante or Allegretto) ‘più animato’ – Adagio cantabile – Allegro – Andante (or Allegro moderato con brio)
00:35:04 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 ‘Concord, Mass’: I. Emerson (‘a composite picture or impression’)
00:48:53 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 ‘Concord, Mass’: II. Hawthorne (‘an “extended fragment”, reflecting “some of his wilder, fantastical adventures into the half childlike, half fairy-like phantasmal realms”’)
01:00:15 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 ‘Concord, Mass’: III. The Alcotts (‘a sketch’)
01:05:16 Charles Ives: Piano Sonata No. 2 ‘Concord, Mass’: IV. Thoreau (‘an autumn day of Indian Summer at Walden’) With Eleonore Pameijer flute

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