Essential Classics Special Presentation: Jeremy Denk & Stefan Jackiw • 'Ives Violin Sonatas' with New York Polyphony
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Merely programming the four violin sonatas of American original Charles Ives would not be enough for Jeremy Denk, the inquisitive and exploratory pianist, writer, and musical collaborator. But that is exactly what he and beguiling, intuitive violinist Stefan Jackiw do in the simply titled program Ives Sonatas. They work in reverse, starting with the boisterous Sonata No. 4, based on revival hymn tunes, and arriving, ultimately, at the joyous unpredictability of the ever-imaginative Sonata No. 1, which likewise incorporates borrowed melodies into Ives’ distinctive modernist sound.
Before each of the final three sonatas, though, Denk directs an antediluvian mixtape of sorts. Heralded vocal quartet New York Polyphony sing the songs that reappear as source materials in the subsequent sonata. Many of these numbers are Americana bedrock — the gospel standard Beulah Land, for instance, or the Civil War standard Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The Boys Are Marching. In pulling out the strands of the composer’s source material, Denk humanizes Ives, whose sonatas remain as daunting as they are rewarding a full century after they were written. Ives Sonatas offers personal context for one of America’s most daring composers, thanks to one of its sharpest modern minds.
Ives: Sonata No. 4 for Violin and Piano (“Children’s Day at Camp Meeting”)
Edgar P. Stites/John R. Sweney: Beulah Land
Robert Lowry/Annie Sherwood Hawks: I Need Thee Every Hour
Ives: Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano
François H. Barthélemon/Robert Robinson: Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee (Autumn)
Ives: Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
George F. Root/David Nelson: Shining Shore
George F. Root: Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! The Boys Are Marching
George F. Kiallmark/Samuel Woodworth: The Old Oaken Bucket
Lowell Mason/Anna L. Coghill: Work, for the Night is Coming
Ives: Sonata No. 1 for Violin and Piano