Charles Ives composed nearly 200 songs, with several left unpublished in addition to those collected together in 114 Songs. If you want more of those songs than just a single-disc compilation, like the recent one by Gerald Finley, this ongoing complete set by Naxos may be for you. The songs are arranged in alphabetical order, which will facilitate finding a specific piece in the set; stylistic or chronological order would be difficult considering the revisions Ives made to many of his works. The recordings were made at Yale University's Sprague Hall, and the various singers were grad students at Yale or had other connections there. When Ives provided parts in addition to the piano, which he did with some frequency, this recording again takes advantage of being made in a school of music, with felicitous results.
Charles Ives, Songs, Vol. 1, Various Artists
(released June 24, 2008)
True, not all of the performances on the first volume are home runs. More or less known quantities include veteran bass David Pittsinger and baritone Patrick Carfizzi, a young singer who shows impressive range between the 34 laconic, quasi-Dadaist seconds of Ives's whimsical 1, 2, 3 and the homespun Charlie Rutlage. Soprano Jennifer Casey Cabot regrettably is heard only in one track, and mezzo-soprano Leah Wool has a comforting warmth in her selections. The regular drawback of the Naxos economy release is the skimpy booklet, with no room for the texts of the songs. One can read some of them at the Naxos Web site, but for some reason (copyright issues?) not all. Even so, this should be a pretty good complete set of the Ives songs, at an affordable price.
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