Martin Perry Performs Binkerd & Ives
Gordon Binkerd: Essays for the Piano
Charles Ives: "Concord" Sonata
Martin Perry, piano
Both works on this new release are first recordings, but for different
reasons. Gordon Binkerd isn't a composer who's often performed, which is
why his Essays get a recording premier here. Charles Ives' "Concord"
Sonata has enjoyed several recordings, but this oft-revised work exists
in many different versions -- this is the premier recording of one of
Gordon Binkerd was a Midwesterner who was active in the mid-Twentieth
century. His music has a deliberately homespun roughness to it, which
Binkerd used to express the inherent Americaness of his work. Whether
the stance was authentic or not, Binkerd never received the attention of
Copland and Barber, and his work has been sadly neglected.
I say sadly, because the three Essays for the Piano played here
are well-crafted works that deserve a hearing. These works sound
"American" without any affectation, and have real expressive power. The
Essays are in a somewhat dissonant style, but still full of interesting
and engaging melodies and harmonies.
Ives continually revised his Second Piano Sonata even after he had it
published. So there are a lot of different -- and sometimes conflicting
-- versions of the work in existence. Pianist John Kirkpatrick (who
would in time become the curator of the Charles Ives Archive at Yale)
pulled together all of these variant versions and created a definitive,
final edition of the work. That's the version Perry plays in this
As played by Perry, the sonata is very expressive, with some of the
quieter sections sounding almost sweetly sentimental. Even during the
roaring climaxes, Perry plays with taste and musicality. The music gets
loud, but it's always under control -- not a mean feat with the
maelstrom of notes and tune snippets Ives throws at the player. Perry
delivers a very distinctive -- and faithful, I think -- interpretation
of this complex work. And one that provides additional insights when
compared to other performances.