Music reviews I’ve written for the music of 1929.
1. Charles Ives: Orchestral Set No. 1 ‘Three Places in New England’ (10/10)
Though initially finished in 1914 and published in 1916, that version has not survived. I’m reviewing the 1929 revision.
The first “orchestral set,” otherwise known as “Three Places in New England,” is really like three American tone poems. All three movements are inspired by places in New England (shockingly). It contains some of Ives’ most compelling music and there’s a reason it is, perhaps, his most famous work (now, anyway, as it wasn’t performed regularly until the 1970s). It is music like this that once again puts into stark relief the bizarre neglect Ives received. It’s one of the great pieces of music of its era, I think.
2. Memphis Minnie: “When the Levee Breaks” (10/10)
This song has been rendered iconic by Zeppelin. And, make no mistake, the Zeppelin version is the definitive version. But this recording is pretty powerful in its own right, given Minnie’s powerful (and deep) vocal and the impressive playing by either her or her husband. Pretty great.
3. Earl Hines’ Orchestra: “Chicago Rhythm” (9/10)
This absolutely sounds like it was recorded on the transition from trad jazz to swing (which it was). The band is bigger and there is an emphasis on group-writing, but the solos are still pure “dixieland.” A pretty great little record given when it was made.
4. Francis Poulenc: Aubade (8/10)
Sort of a tone poem-concerto thing. Interesting, but not one of my favourites of the era.
5. Gustav Holst: “12 Humbert Wolfe Settings” Op. 48 (6/10)
The twelve settings for Humber Wolfe poems feel rather conservative to me. I don’t really get the charge that he was “cold.” But I do think that this music is just not that interesting for the late ’20s. I’d rather listen to more daring stuff.