Ives: Symphony No 1, Three Places In New England / Ormandy

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Eugene Ormandy's peerless Ives First Symphony, a singular classic in which the conductor employs all the resources of his fabulous orchestra, comes newly packaged in Sony's latest re-launch of its highly successful budget-priced Essential Classics series. The famous Philadelphia strings make a wonderfully sumptuous sound (particularly as they flesh out the Adagio molto's beauteous melodies), the winds' pointed and colorful playing enlivens the scherzo, while the brass section's signature timbre rings regally at the close of the first and last movements. Ormandy brings to this music the same level of concentration and care he would a Tchaikovsky symphony, conducting with an authority unmatched on other, later recordings.

Zubin Mehta conducts with similar enthusiasm, but his Los Angeles recording is spoiled by disfiguring cuts in the finale, and despite heftily sonorous playing from the Chicago Symphony, Michael Tilson Thomas' earnest reading sounds surprisingly stiff after Ormandy's free-flowing, almost impetuous rendition. Ormandy further earns his Ives stripes (and proves the lie to the claim that he was a bland interpreter) with his intense and atmospheric reading of Three Places in New England. Rounding out the program is a bracing performance of the Robert Browning Overture by a very animated Leopold Stokowski, stunningly played by the American Symphony. The remastered sound for the Philadelphia sessions is pleasingly warm and full for its period (late 1950s), while the Stokowski recording is less open and a bit hard-edged. [3/6/2002]
--Victor Carr Jr., ClassicsToday.com

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: SBK89851

  • UPC: 696998985124

  • Label: Sony

  • Composer: Charles Ives

  • Conductor: Eugene Ormandy, Leopold Stokowski

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: American Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra