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Gordon Binkerd (1916-2003) might not be familiar to many. Trained at the Eastman School of Music and Harvard and a lecturer at the University of Illinois for over 20 years, he wrote music that is broadly tonal and eminently approachable, in the manner of much so-called Americana. The indication for the first Essay we hear (No 4) is ‘Lightly, like music running’. All three Essays heard here are based on songs by the composer. No 5 is identifiably Ivesian; No 6 reveals almost schizophrenic tendencies in its disjunct nature. Martin Perry’s playing is supremely assured. The Binkerd is a first recording, as is the Ives (in the sense of the edition used). There is huge competition in this work: John Kirkpatrick’s association with Ives, both as an editor and as a performer (he recorded this Sonata twice) is well documented; and Hamelin has also recorded it twice. But this version holds its head up high and, for reasons musicological as well as musical, is a must-have.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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