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Varied Air: Charles Ives Piano Music
Philip Mead (piano)
Helen Brammen (flute), Elena Artemonova (viola)

The solo piano music of Ives represents an extraordinary achivement. "Experimental" is a word often associated with it. But "experimental" in what sense? Certainly he was exploring a wholly unique and personal style. Ives' music is by turns, exploratory, powerful, sensitive and transcendental always wholly consistent within its own, sometimes highly unusual terms.

These qualities are there in abundance in his two crowning achievements the first and second sonatas. The studies and others orbit round these like planets to twin suns.

playing time: CD1 64:32;  CD2 68:44  
direct sale price:  £17.00
audio  sample: Study no. 22 (extract)  
buy one


Piano Sonata no. 1
Piano Sonata no. 2
Three-Page Sonata
Study no. 2 (Varied Air with Variations)
Study no 9 (The Anti-Abolitionist Riots)
Study no. 20
Study no. 21 (Some South-Paw Pitching)
Study no. 22
Study no. 23 (Baseball Take-Off)
Five Take-Offs

review extracts: for full reviews click here
"This is a most desirable disc...these two discs contain just about all of Ives's best-known and most significant works for piano. ... Mead would be hard to beat."  - Christopher Dingle (BBC Music Magazine)
“[Mead’s] interpretations of the Sonatas can be ranked with the best, showing that he has a strong affinity with lves' music. They are also very well recorded. ” – Musical Opinion
“ Mead has no problems with the formidable technical difficulties many of these pieces present; the massive accumulations of notes, the cross rhythms and lightning switches of mood ” – Andrew Clements (The Guardian)
“The performances are superb - and so is the recording” - Paul Driver (Sunday Times)
“Perhaps providing the finest interpretation of the two piano sonatas on disc… Philip Mead is in his element, dexterously flying through those glittering dissonances and freely enjoying Ives's unstilted ragtime motifs.” CLASSICAL CD OF THE WEEK - Tarik O'Regan (The Observer)