For reasons I won’t go into, the Italian pianist Roberto Ramadori found me online and sent me his recording of Ives's "Concord Sonata." It's an exciting, thoughtful performance, and it was especially refreshing coming after my disappointment in Jeremy Denk's clotted, overpraised version. Where Denk bangs away as though Ives were an American Liszt, Roberto approaches the "Concord" almost like Bach — not in a way that dries it out, but in way that clarifies the textures and equalizes the independent voices. I was especially impressed with his treatment of the Hawthorne movement, which has in general been my least favorite of the four.
The timings are longer than on most other recordings. Roberto brings in the piece at just 12 seconds shy of any hour an almost epic duration — and the music only accumulates power as it goes on. I have at least a dozen recordings of the "Concord," and I can see myself spending more and more time with this one.
It is not available in the US, but it can be found at Amazon Italy. At 13 euros, it’s a steal.
The little yellow stripe in the upper corner of the booklet touts this CD as the "first Italian recording." I don't know why that should make any difference. When the first Latvian recording appears, I'll know we've arrived.
Don't forget to tune in to Marvin's Rosen's Classical Discoveries 21st century marathon at 10:30 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 29, when I'll be introducing Carter's Cello Concerto. WPRB is at 103.3 on the FM dial in the Princeton area. The show may also be heard online at WPRB.com.