Ives: 3 Places in New England / Morlot, Seattle Symphony

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Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony release here their third disc featuring the music of Charles Ives. One of his most beloved works, Three Places in New England, is meticulously mastered to capture the nuances of Ives’ intricate musical language. Recorded alongside his Orchestral Set No. 2 and New England Holidays, this release takes you on a haunting journey through Ives’ nostalgic visions of America at the turn of the century. With naturalistic imaging, depth of field and dynamic range, all Seattle Symphony Media recordings have been engineered to audiophile standards and aim to capture as realistically as possible the sound of the orchestra performing on the Benaroya Hall stage.

The Seattle Symphony is one of America’s leading symphony orchestras and is internationally acclaimed for its innovative programming and extensive recording history. Under the leadership of Music Director Ludovic Morlot since September 2011, the Symphony is heard from September through July by more than 500,000 people through live performances and radio broadcasts. It performs in one of the finest modern concert halls in the world in downtown Seattle. Its extensive education and community engagement programs reach over 65,000 children and adults each year.


Ives’s mature works are always a challenge, and the Seattle Symphony rises to the occasion. This is their third Ives program, a daunting and brave undertaking. Ives’s hyper-complex skein of sound is impossible to fully sort out, but the Seattle players clarify much of it, from the eerily quiet piano solos to the massive multi-ensemble explosions.

I am particularly taken with the quiet sections, and there are many in this program. Morlot brings out the surreal poetry with loving care. The spooky, ecstatic atmosphere in Housatonic at Stockbridge is beguiling; listen to those swirling strings and burnished brass. The fade-out after the shattering climax is pure goosebumps.

So is all of Elegy to Our Forefathers, where the many layers emerge clearly from an Ivesian mist. The bells and harp envelop the listener, thanks to the intimate recording, which puts us in the middle of the orchestra. From Hanover Square North, with its ethereal chorus and mellow horn, has a ghost-like richness—a paradox that makes this recording stand out.

Ives’s big epiphany was the converging marching bands he heard on a sports field, depicted with Proustian nostalgia in Decoration Day; here the effect is natural and musical, not merely raucous. The distant trumpet is elegant and poised, and the clashing marching bands sound as if they are having a good time. This is a gentler version than the dramatic one by Michael Tilson Thomas, another outstanding Ivesian. Morlot emphasizes warmth rather than brilliance—a welcome approach in the pile-ups where all hell breaks loose on a dozen levels. Like his idols, Emerson and Thoreau, Ives could be contemplative as well as contentious, a quality Morlot obviously appreciates.

-- American Record Guide

Product Description:

  • Release Date: June 09, 2017

  • Catalog Number: SSM1015

  • UPC: 855404005140

  • Label: Seattle Symphony Media

  • Number of Discs: 1

  • Period: 20th Century

  • Composer: Charles Ives

  • Conductor: Ludovic Morlot

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra


  1. Orchestral Set No. 1, "3 Places in New England"

    Composer: Charles Ives

    Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Ludovic Morlot

  2. Orchestral Set No. 2

    Composer: Charles Ives

    Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Ludovic Morlot

  3. A Symphony: New England Holidays

    Composer: Charles Ives

    Ensemble: Seattle Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Ludovic Morlot