2012, Music

Ives: Four Sonatas (2012) by Hilary Hahn, Valentina Lisitsa

This is an excellent set of Ives’ violin sonatas. The pieces are a little more accessible than some of Ives’ more orchestrated pieces, in part I guess because of the nature of the violin. But the music is still characteristic Ives: challenging yet appealing.

And the performances sound great to my ears, though like always I am not really familiar with the music so I do not know if there is a better version of the set out there.

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.1

  1. Andante – Allegro vivace 6:08
  2. Largo cantabile 5:56
  3. Allegro 8:06

The first sonata is a crazy, careening, almost drunken lark which veers from pretty violin playing to seemingly discordant piano thumping and shrillness from the violin. As with most of Ives’ work, seemingly incongruous ideas are easily and wonderfully juxtaposed.

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.2

  1. Autumn. Adagio maestoso – Allegro moderato 5:10
  2. In the Barn. Presto – Allegro moderato 4:03
  3. The Revival. Largo – Allegretto 3:18

The second sonata is significantly more somber, at least at first. Again, it shows off Ives’ lack of regard for convention and tradition. And his interest in styles that shouldn’t fit together.

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.3

  1. Adagio (Verse I) – Andante (Verse II) – Allegretto (Verse III) – Adagio (Last Verse) 12:21
  2. Allegro 3:30
  3. Adagio (Cantabile) – Andante con spirito 8:02

The third sonata is considerably mellower than the first two, but that is a relative thing with Ives. Even when he tries to play it cool, he is still all over the place, which is great, and the music still leaps with energy.

Sonata for Violin and Piano No.4 “Children’s Day At The Camp Meeting”

  1. Allegro 2:04
  2. Largo – Allegro (con slugarocko) 4:50
  3. Allegro 1:43

The fourth sonata is almost, almost one of those Copland-esque jaunty little American tunes. But fortunately Ives is too interesting for that. At one point he even quotes “Go Tell it On the Mountain”, which is very Romantic of him, but it’s just emblematic of his “clash” of sounds. In this sonata Ives seeks to recreate a camp experience and he does.


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