With the Americana music boomlet going on right now, perhaps the public is more ready than ever for the avant-Americana of Charles Ives (1874-1954).

With the Americana music boomlet going on right now, perhaps the public is more ready than ever for the avant-Americana of Charles Ives (1874-1954). The first great American composer, Ives pioneered a brand of concert music that unashamedly incorporated such homegrown idioms as church hymns, brass-band tunes, parlor songs, and patriotic ditties—often within the same piece. Folk-inflected did not mean easy-listening, as the maverick musician cultivated polyphonic, polyrhythmic, sometimes tartly dissonant soundscapes; yet, in retrospect, what sounded like a crazy-quilt in the early part of the last century now sounds utterly native and natural, often nostalgic. This unique collection—from our premier Ives interpreter, Michael Tilson Thomas—features such lyrical orchestral masterpieces as Three Places in New England, The Unanswered Question, and From the Steeples to the Mountains, along with a sequence of orchestral songs showcasing Thomas Hampson. The baritone, long a card-carrying Ivesian, sings such songs as "Tom Sails Away" and "General William Booth Enters Into Heaven" not only with idiomatic relish but also with real beauty. Everything here—from the orchestral playing to the recording—resonates with such class and allure.—BB

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