Ives: A Symphony: New England Holidays; Central Park in the Dark; Orchestral Set No 1: Three Places in New England; The Unanswered Question

Reviewed on Fri 12 Feb, 2016

Andrew Davis imbues the two New England-inspired pieces with a beguiling mellow warmth – the 39-minute A Symphony: New England Holidays positively radiates – that never gives in to tepid nostalgia.

This second volume in Andrew Davis’s Ives survey on Chandos confirms the promise of the first (a coupling of the First and Second Symphonies, reviewed on April 24, 2015). There are deeper waters, riven by the emerging radicalism that came to define Ives, to plumb here. Although all concerned can’t match the combustible attack of Leonard Bernstein’s still essential readings with the New York Philharmonic (Sony; Deutsche Grammophon), what they lack in gusto they make up for in attention to detail and clarity, even within the otherworldly atmospheres of The Unanswered Question and, especially, amidst the bustling clangour of Central Park in the Dark. Davis imbues the two New England-inspired pieces with a beguiling mellow warmth – the 39-minute A Symphony: New England Holidays positively radiates – that never gives in to tepid nostalgia. Informative notes and excellent sound – listen on headphones for a sonic treat – add to the pleasure.
–Michael Quinn