In Sunday’s (5/12) Detroit Free Press, Mark Stryker writes, “Leonard Bernstein led the premiere of Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 2 with the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall in 1951, a half century after it was written. The American maverick composer was in his late 70s and could not be convinced to attend. … Lord only knows what Ives might have made of Friday’s three-hour marathon at Carnegie of all four of his numbered symphonies by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and music director Leonard Slatkin. The DSO was performing its second consecutive night as part of the 2013 Spring For Music festival, a weeklong celebration of progressive programming by five American orchestras. … Hearing the four symphonies back-to-back italicized Ives’ damn-the-rules mentality, but it also revealed how well he knew his business. Not only was he on speaking terms with Beethoven, Brahms, Dvorak and the rest of the canon, he had a complete if idiosyncratic command of large-scale form. … Slatkin feels this music deeply, but the first two symphonies did not capture his partnership with the DSO at its best. … But everything sharpened up after intermission. … All of the ranks of the orchestra merged gloriously, with the brass showing particular strength. … It was a good night to be from Detroit, and it was a good night for American music and Ives.”

Posted May 14, 2013