Ives: The Celestial Country
Liner Notes   Cat. No. NWCRL314     Release Date: 2010-10-15
The Schütz Choir of London, Roger Norrington, conductor;
Hazel Holt, soprano; Alfreda Hodgson, alto; John Elwes, tenor; John Noble, baritone; London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Harold Farberman

The Celestial Country was begun in 1898, the year Charles Ives finished Yale and his studies with Horatio Parker, and was completed the next year, when he was starting his three years as organist of New York's Central Presbyterian Church. Program leaflets exist of a performance there in 1902.

Stylistically, the work bears the stamp of the Yale period. It is a companion piece to the First Symphony, and shares with it a marked youthful enthusiasm and vigor, along with what is now regarded as a very un-Ivesian sentimentality. Both works are alike in their scoring for strings, in melodic contours and harmonic values. The Celestial Country departs from the earlier tradition in its pre-jazz syncopated treatment of the words “angels” and “pilgrims” in the first and last sections. The tenor aria, in section six, on the other hand, forecasts the religious-spirituality of the middle section of his subsequent General Booth Enters Into Heaven.

The Celestial Country presents no thorny listening problems. It shows almost none of Ives' later audaciousness, unless the unexpected richness of its overflowing sentiments can be called audacious. Nor is there overt Americana to be found here, unless the words of the text, all but the last two lines taken from a hymn by Henry Alford, call up visions of a Chautauqua of the spirit:



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London Symphony Orchestra

Ives: The Celestial Country

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Track Listing

The Celestial Country: I. Prelude, Trio and Chorus
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: II. Aria for Baritone
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: III. Quartet
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: IV. Intermezzo for String Quartet
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: V. Double Chorus, a cappella
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: VI. Aria for Tenor
Charles Ives
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The Celestial Country: VII. Chorale and Finale
Charles Ives
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