Charles Ives Complete Sets for Chamber Orchestra

‘This album is a demonstration of, and tribute to, the remarkable breadth of Charles Ives’ imagination. A composer of wide-ranging orchestral works, he was also a master of miniatures. Well-focused, short ideas were a perfect fit for Ives’ busy double life as an insurance executive and weekend composer. Many of his songs are strikingly brief and it is on these that the Sets for Chamber Orchestra are largely based. In those brief spans, however, Ives creates a breathtaking panoply of style and technique, possibly the greatest showcase of his kaleidoscopic creativity and the most colourful outings in all of his output.’

James Sinclair


Though Charles Ives wrote large-scale works, he also thrived on miniatures. Ives’ Sets for Chamber Orchestra are largely based on his songs and display a panoply of style and technique that proves to be among the most colorful and creative of his entire compositional life. The Sets are rife with allusions and borrowings, notably hymn tunes, and reuse several pieces in slightly altered treatments. Set 9 includes The Unanswered Question in its original form. Ives was willing to embrace substitution of instruments, and this recording contains premiere recordings of new realisations and editions.

Listen to an extract from Set No. 4:
‘Three Poets and Human Nature’
I. Robert Browning (Paracelsus)
About the Artists

James Sinclair is among the world’s pre-eminent scholars and champions of the music of Charles Ives. He is the executive editor for the Charles Ives Society, supervising the work of Ives scholars throughout the United States. He has served as music director for four PBS television documentaries, including the Peabody Award-winning film about Ives, A Good Dissonance Like a Man. In 1999, Yale University Press published his 800-page A Descriptive Catalogue of the Music of Charles Ives. He has conducted the world premieres and first recordings of sixteen Ives works.

Orchestra New England (ONE) was founded in 1974 as the Yale Theater Orchestra, subsequently adopting the name Orchestra New England in 1985. ONE is unsurpassed among musical ensembles between New York and Boston in the number of commercial recordings it has made. These include the world premiere recording of Villa-Lobos’ folk opera Magdalena on CBS Masterworks, New World Records’ release of Cole Porter’s first Broadway hit, Fifty Million Frenchmen, and world premiere recordings of orchestral music by Charles Ives on both Naxos and Koch International Classics.
James Sinclair’s other recordings of Charles Ives’ music
Decoration Day • Fourth of July • Thanksgiving
Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus • Sinclair
‘Sinclair’s conducting gets everything right: tempos, textures, balances, and colours. He allows Ives’ boisterous high spirits to emerge naturally, effortlessly, and where necessary, raucously… An essential release for Ives fans.’
Emerson Concerto
Symphony No. 1

Feinberg • National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland • Sinclair
‘No one active today has a better feel for this music, for its past influences as well as its future destiny, than James Sinclair, and he galvanises the players of the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland to produce warmly idiomatic, extremely satisfying results.’
The Three Orchestral Sets
Malmö Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus • Sinclair
‘A real discovery in this complete set of the Orchestral Sets. This is a fascinating release that offers Ives’ three Orchestral Sets for the first time…’
‘James Sinclair has been a dedicated Ives scholar and performer for more than 30 years, which means this disc has to be something special... Vintage Ives, all played with completely idiomatic feeling.’
For the full list of Charles Ives titles on Naxos, please follow this link.

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