Following the fiddle on a ‘wild ride to heaven’ with Charles Ives

01.11.18
Jeremy Denk, Stefan Jackiw
Boston Globe

In a moment when populism and modern-tilting art seem hopelessly at odds, could there be a better tonic than the music of Charles Ives? This Janus-faced visionary composed joyfully clangorous music for an audience of the future. Yet his homegrown experimentalism lived alongside a deep and nostalgic love for an older, simpler America. In the composer’s vision of the idyllic past, hymns are always drifting out of churches on the banks of rivers, the town commons always have a band or two parading by, and the good working folks gather nightly around the campfire to sing in rough-hewn yet honest, proto-Ivesian voices.

Ives’s set of four Violin Sonatas, most of which date back to the 1910s, embody this wonderful tension as vividly as any of his music. And later this month, two uncommonly eloquent musicians — pianist Jeremy Denk and violinist Stefan Jackiw — will partner for a rare Celebrity Series of Boston recital devoted to the complete set of four works. Joining them on this program will be the vocal ensemble Hudson Shad, who will sing the original hymns that Ives quotes in his sonatas. 

In advance of their local appearance on Jan. 26, the Globe recently spoke by phone with Denk and Jackiw about Ives, the Violin Sonatas, and a composer’s art dotted with “islands” of beauty.
 
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