Monday, October 13, 2014

Charles Ives The Concord Sonata Stephen Drury

Stephen Drury, piano; Jessi Rosinski, flute

There are sonatas in the piano repertoire which even very fine pianists don't play in public or even get around to studying.  I wouldn't include myself as anywhere near those ranks but I have my regrets in that area.  The Dukas sonata is one I'd love to learn but which is so huge that the expenditure of time was impossible for me.   Even within the common standard repertoire, you can add the late Beethoven Sonatas to that list.  Even some of the earlier ones.  Someone once asked me if I'd ever played "The Appassionata"  which has been played so often by so many greater musicians that I don't see much use in me trying*.  Luckily, Beethoven supplied lots of sonatas that don't get nearly enough exposure so we mere workmen can avoid extensive comparison to our loss.

During my time at the university, I once spent a couple of months during summer with Ives' great Concord Sonata even as I knew I wouldn't be performing it.  Of all the piano players I've known, many better than I ever was, only one attempted to play the piece and did a credible job with it.   I will never perform it but I've decided to take up the next year studying it, again.  I learned an enormous amount about music and life from it the last time.  And for the non-musician it has so much to offer, all you have to do is listen to it, find what you can hear and be swept along with Ives' great and fantastic mind.  Every time I hear someone new playing it, every time I hear the same recordings I've been listening to for decades, I hear things I never heard before.   Mahler was said to have wanted to make music so big that the entire universe was contained in it.  While that idea of the universe is absurdly inadequate, Charles Ives included so much more than Mahler ever even imagined.

* It's like when someone approached me about forming a community chorus.  After thinking over what I'd like to do with one I got back to her and her response was, "But I thought you'd,  you know, sing show tunes".   Why anyone would want to sing or hear songs sung to death by professionals when they could learn something new is something I will never get.  I hope.  And, no, I'm living proof that not all gay men love show tunes, I HATE THEM, HATE THEM, HATE THEM!    Needless to say. that project didn't come off.

Update:  On reading the comments at Youtube:  It's one of the funniest things how people who make such asses of themselves hatin' on "modern music" which they hate believe they are being clever by doing, so repetitively and predictably, even as they prove they are too stupid to avoid something they hate.

A smart person who hates "modern music" doesn't listen to it, they don't merely parrot such previous idiots who said the same things they do to display their non-erudition.  

Update 2:   OK, I've been unable to put this down and have listened to it three times today.  This is the best performance of this piece I've heard.  This is great music making of the highest quality.

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