Jeremy Denk & Stefan Jackiw
Ives Violin Sonatas
with New York Polyphony
January 19, 2018 | 8 pm
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Merely programming the four violin sonatas of American original Charles Ives would not have been enough for Jeremy Denk, the inquisitive and exploratory pianist, writer, and musical collaborator. That is just part of what he and beguiling, intuitive violinist Stefan Jackiw do in the simply titled program Ives Violin 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 Sonata No. 1, which likewise incorporates borrowed melodies into Ives’ distinctive modernist sound.
Before each sonata, Denk directs an antediluvian mixtape of sorts. Heralded vocal quartet New York Polyphony sing the songs that appear as source materials in each of the sonatas. 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 daring as they are rewarding a full century after they were written. This program offers personal context for one of America’s most original 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. Barthélémon/Robert Robinson: Mighty God, While Angels Bless Thee (Autumn)
Ives: Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano
George F. Root/David Nelson: The 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
“Mr. Denk’s playing exuded affnity for Ives and vivid imagination. Mr. Jackiw, deftly balancing fervor and elegance, beautiful tone and earthy colorings, proved a comparably inspired Ivesian on this exciting night.”