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Charles Ives: Sonata No. 2 "Concord" - The Alcotts

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Published on Aug 25, 2009

Sonata No. 2, "Concord, Mass., 1840-60"
III. The Alcotts

John Kirkpatrick, piano.

"There is a commonplace beauty about 'Orchard House' -- a kind of spiritual sturdiness underlying its quaint picturesqueness -- a kind of common triad of the New England homestead, whose overtones tell us that there must have been something aesthetic fibered in the Puritan severity -- the self-sacrificing part of the ideal -- a value that seems to stir a deeper feeling, a stronger sense of being nearer some perfect trust than a Gothic cathedral or an Etruscan villa. All around you, under the Concord sky, there still floats the influence of that human faith melody, transcendent and sentimental enough for the enthusiast or the cynic respectively, reflecting on an innate hope -- a common interest in common things and common men -- a tune the Concord bards are ever playing, while they pound away at the immensities with a Beethovenlike sublimity, and with, may we say, a vehemence and perseverance -- for that part of greatness is not so difficult to emulate.

We dare not attempt to follow the philosophic raptures of Bronson Alcott -- unless you will assume that his apotheosis will show how "practical" his vision in this world would be in the next. And so we won't try to reconcile the music sketch of the Alcotts with much besides the memory of that home under the elms -- the Scotch songs and the family hymns that were sung at the end of each day -- though there may be an attempt to catch something of that common sentiment (which we have tried to suggest above) -- a strength of hope that never gives way to despair -- a conviction in the power of the common soul which, when all is said and done, may be as typical as any theme of Concord and its transcendentalists."

-C.E.I.

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