Ives: A Concord Symphony - Copland: Organ Symphony San Francisco Symphony & Michael Tilson Thomas
- Charles Ives (1874 - 1954): Piano Sonata No. 2, "Concord, Mass., 1840-60" (arr. H. Brant as A Concord Symphony):
- 1I. Emerson17:39
- 2II. Hawthorne13:46
- 3III. The Alcotts06:13
- 4IV. Thoreau12:26
- Aaron Copland (1900 - 1990): Symphony for Organ and Orchestra:
- 5I. Prelude07:13
- 6II. Scherzo07:40
- 7III. Finale12:08
Info for Ives: A Concord Symphony - Copland: Organ Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony follow their recently completed Mahler cycle with a series of new live recordings, including the Henry Brant arrangement of Ives’ Concord Symphony uniquely paired with Copland’s Organ Symphony featuring Paul Jacobs.
Following the recent completion of their award-winning and ground-breaking Mahler recording project, Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony will continue to bolster their discography with recordings from both the core classical repertoire as well as works new to or rarely heard by audiences. The new recordings reflect the broad range of programming that has been a hallmark of the 15-year MTT/SFS partnership. The new releases, recorded live in concert in the orchestra’s home Davies Symphony Hall, and mastered in 96kHz, 24bit.
Amongst the first of these new releases is Ives’ Concord Symphony arranged by Pulitzer-prize winning composer Henry Brant, uniquely paired with Copland’s Organ Symphony featuring Paul Jacobs.
“[The Concord Mass] demands playing of tireless energy and gentle lyrical touch. This superb orchestra rises to the challenges, although the players sound more at ease with the long, clear lines musical lines of Copland's magnificent Organ Symphony. It's difficult to imagine a finer performance than this one, with a mighty solo instrument and the orchestra beautifully balanced against each other.” (Classic FM Magazine)
“In 'Emerson', Tilson Thomas is a sure guide to the music's emotional breadth as Brant hears it...Similarly in 'Hawthorne', Tilson Thomas renders the more extrovert passages - such as the jazzy episode near its centre - with undeniable verve.” (International Record)
“Paul Jacobs faultlessly exploits this fine score. With this degree of drama, eloquence and style, it's the ideal recording of this incomprehensibly neglected work...Brant has added an imposing document to the Ives repertoire and these two live recordings are a stunning success.” (Gramophone Magazine)
“The live recording...is absolutely stunning, with the organ clearly spaced in Davies Hall, allowing Paul Jacobs to be in the foreground, and yet an integral part of the orchestra, as the composer intended.” (BBC Music Magazine)
The Concord Sonata by Charles Ives (1874-1954), a towering classic of piano literature, emerged into being over many decades. Its first sketches date to 1904 and its final revision to 1947, but mostly Ives concentrated on it from 1916 to 1919. When he first committed it to publication, in 1920, he described it as “an attempt to present [an] impression of the spirit of transcendentalism that is associated in the minds of many with Concord, Mass., of over a half century ago.” He continued, “This is undertaken in impressionistic pictures of Emerson and Thoreau, a sketch of the Alcotts, and a scherzo supposed to reflect a lighter quality which is often found in the fantastic side of Hawthorne.”
The Canadian-born composer Henry Brant (1913-2008) was inspired by Ives’s ideas, and by the 1950s had grown so obsessed with the Concord Sonata that he began transcribing it for full orchestra. He reported: “From 1958 until 1994 I worked on A Concord Symphony in odds and ends of spare time in between teaching, commercial orchestration and my own experimental composing. In undertaking this project, my intention was not to achieve a characteristically complex Ives orchestral texture (which in any case, only he could produce), but rather to create a symphonic idiom which would ride in the orchestra with athletic surefootedness and present Ives‘s astounding music in clear, vivid, and intense sonorities.”
Following its premiere the work became widely hailed as an important statement of Modernism, and Copland’s name was linked to those of Henry Cowell, Carl Ruggles, and Edgard Varèse as an influential new voice in music. The nicest compliment of all came from the composer Virgil Thomson, who succeeded Copland as a student of Boulanger’s in France. Years later he would say, “The piece that opened the whole door to me was that Organ Symphony of Aaron’s. I thought that it was the voice of America in our generation.” But when the piece was new, Copland was delighted by the following exchange between Boulanger and Thomson: “When she asked Virgil Thomson his opinion of the Organ Symphony, he said, ‘I wept when I heard it.’ Nadia asked, ‘But why did you weep?’ Virgil replied, ‘Because I had not written it myself!’” (James M. Keller, excerpt from liner notes)
San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor
Paul Jacobs, organ
San Francisco Symphony
The San Francisco Symphony, widely considered to be among the most artistically adventurous and innovative arts institutions in the U.S., celebrated its Centennial season in 2011-12. The Orchestra was established by a group of San Francisco citizens, music-lovers, and musicians in the wake of the 1906 earthquake, and played its first concert on December 8, 1911. Almost immediately, the Symphony revitalized the city's cultural life. The Orchestra has grown in stature and acclaim under a succession of distinguished music directors: American composer Henry Hadley, Alfred Hertz (who had led the American premieres of Parsifal, Salome, and Der Rosenkavalier at the Metropolitan Opera), Basil Cameron, Issay Dobrowen, the legendary Pierre Monteux (who introduced the world to Le Sacre du printemps and Petrushka), Enrique Jordá, Josef Krips, Seiji Ozawa, Edo de Waart, Herbert Blomstedt (now Conductor Laureate), and current Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas (MTT). Led by Tilson Thomas, who begins his nineteenth season as Music Director in 2013-14, the SFS presents more than 220 concerts annually, and reaches an audience of nearly 600,000 in its home of Davies Symphony Hall, through its multifaceted education and community programs, and on national and international tours.
Since Tilson Thomas assumed his post as the SFS's eleventh Music Director in September 1995, he and the San Francisco Symphony have formed a musical partnership hailed as one of the most inspiring and successful in the country. His tenure with the Orchestra has been praised for outstanding musicianship, innovative programming, highlighting the works of American composers, and bringing new audiences to classical music. In addition, the Orchestra has been recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in music education and for the use of multimedia, television, technology, and the web to make classical music available worldwide to as many people as possible. MTT now is the longest-tenured music director for a major American orchestra, and the longest-serving music director in the San Francisco Symphony's history.
In its Centennial season, the Orchestra reprised its acclaimed American Mavericks Festival of music by pioneering modern American composers, featuring the world premieres of four commissioned works in two weeks of concerts at Davies Symphony Hall and on a two-week national tour, including four performances at Carnegie Hall. The San Francisco Symphony regularly mounts special weeklong semi-staged productions with multimedia, hosted and curated by MTT, and in 2012-13 presented specially staged performances of Grieg's Peer Gynt and the first concert performances by an orchestra of the complete music from Bernstein's West Side Story, which were recorded for release on SFS Media. Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra also dedicated several weeks to explorations of the music of Beethoven, selections of which were recorded for SFS Media, and Stravinsky, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the premiere of his Rite of Spring.
Since 1996, when Tilson Thomas led the Orchestra on the first of their more than a dozen national tours together, they have continued an ambitious yearly touring schedule that takes them to Europe, Asia and throughout the United States. In March 2014 they return to Europe for a three-week tour performing repertoire from the SFS Media catalogue including John Adams' Absolute Jest, Ives' A Concord Symphony, Mahler's Symphony No. 3, and Berlioz' Symphonie fantastique at two concerts each in London, Paris, and Vienna, and performances in Prague, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dortmund, and Birmingham. In 2012, they performed during a two-week national American Mavericks tour and a two-week tour of Asia with pianist Yuja Wang in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, and Macau. In 2011, they made a three-week tour of Europe, culminating in Vienna performances of three Mahler symphonies to commemorate the anniversaries of the composer's birth and death. Recent touring highlights also include a three-week 2007 European tour that featured two televised appearances at the BBC Proms in London and concerts at several other major European festivals.
The Orchestra's recording series on SFS Media continues to reflect the artistic identity of its programming, including its commitment to performing the work of American maverick composers alongside that of the core classical masterworks. The San Francisco Symphony has recorded works from the American Mavericks Festival
concerts by Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Edgard Varèse with pianist Jeremy Denk and organist Paul Jacobs, and won a 2013 Best Orchestral Performance Grammy award for its recording of John Adams' Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Other recently recorded works include Beethoven's Symphonies No. 5, 7, 9, and Piano Concerto No. 4, with soloist Emanuel Ax; Ives' A Concord Symphony; and Copland's Organ Symphony with Paul Jacobs. A live performance of John Adams' Absolute Jest with the St. Lawrence String Quartet and the Orchestra was recorded for future release on SFS Media, and live performances of Beethoven's Symphony No. 2 and Cantata on the Death of Emperor Joseph II was released in November 2013. Tilson Thomas and the Orchestra have recorded all nine of Gustav Mahler's symphonies and the Adagio from the unfinished Symphony No. 10, and the composer's works for voices, chorus, and orchestra for SFS Media. Their 2009 recording with the SFS Chorus of Mahler's sweeping Symphony No. 8, Symphony of a Thousand, and the Adagio from Symphony No. 10 won three Grammy awards, including Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance. Other significant recordings include scenes from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet, a collection of Stravinsky ballets, a Gershwin collection, and Charles Ives: An American Journey, among others. In addition to fifteen Grammy awards, seven of them for the Mahler cycle, the SFS has won some of the world's most prestigious recording awards, including Japan's Record Academy Award, France's Grand Prix du Disque, and Germany's ECHO Klassik Award.
Tilson Thomas and the SFS launched the national Keeping Score PBS television series and multimedia project in 2006 to help make classical music more accessible to people of all ages and musical backgrounds. The project, an unprecedented undertaking among orchestras, is anchored by eight composer documentaries, hosted by Tilson Thomas, and eight live concert films; it also includes www.keepingscore.org, an innovative website to explore and learn about music; a national radio series; documentary and live performance DVD and CDs; and an education program for K-12 schools to further teaching through the arts by integrating classical music into core subjects. More than six million people have seen the Keeping Score television series, and the radio series has been broadcast on almost 100 stations nationally.
The San Francisco Symphony provides the most extensive education programs offered by any American orchestra today. In 1988, the Symphony established Adventures in Music (AIM), a free, comprehensive music education program that reaches every first- through fifth-grade child in the San Francisco Unified School District. The SFS Instrument Training and Support program reaches students in all San Francisco public middle and high schools with instrumental music programs, providing coaching by professional musicians. The Symphony expanded its educational offerings in 2011-12 with Community of Music Makers, a program that supports amateur choral singers and instrumental musicians with professional coaching by SFS musicians, rehearsals, and other learning opportunities. In development is a revitalized children's music education website, www.sfskids.org, created in conjunction with the UC Irvine Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds. The SFS also offers opportunities to hear and learn about great music through its programs Concerts for Kids, Music for Families, the internationally-acclaimed SFS Youth Orchestra, and annual free and community concerts.