· By Nicholas Stevens

All Set(s): Sinclair & Swafford on Charles Ives



Charles Ives was not just an insurance man and “weekend composer,” but the executive who arguably invented estate planning andwith music written deep into the nightbecame the fifth person to win the Pulitzer Prize in music. Not just a Connecticut Yankee, but a scion of a family that founded enduring local institutions and advanced abolitionism, on the page and on the battlefield. Not just a participant in avant-garde music in the United States, but virtually a one-man philanthropic trust supporting it. Not just a bringer of hymns, marches, and parlor songs into symphonies and sonatas, but a musical tinkerer whose working years in New Yorkand ambition to evoke whole worlds and philosophies in his musicoverlapped with those of Gustav Mahler.

Less well-known than Ives's The Unanswered Question or Concord Sonata, the Sets for Small Orchestraflexible-instrumentation works that transform his songs into wordless miniatureshad never been gathered on one album until conductor and distinguished Ives scholar James Sinclair released his own set of sets in June 2023. In this ArkivMusic Live Q+A, Sinclair and fellow eminent Ivesian Jan Swafford discuss this Naxos album, which features several world-premiere recordings. The pair have often appeared together to share their expertise on Ives, as in documentarian Anne-Kathrin Peitz's film The Unanswered Ives, but in this interview, their interpersonal rapport became wonderfully apparent.

In 2023, ArkivMusic has hosted or co-presented live Q+A sessions or roundtable discussions with pianist Lara Downes; conductor Marin Alsop with clarinetist Anthony McGill and composer Malek Jandali; violinist Kelly Hall-Tompkins; and composer Missy Mazzoli with violinist Peter Herresthal. The recorded video from these talks lives on in perpetuity.

Order your CD recording of Ives: The Complete Sets for Chamber Orchestra on ArkivMusic today!