Charles Ives’ Largo for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano is the result of an interesting compositional evolution. It began life as the second movement of a violin sonata Ives wrote as a student, but it was later discarded and replaced with a different slow movement based on The Old Oaken Bucket. In 1902, this music was salvaged and transformed, perhaps as part of a now lost trio.
The irregular opening piano ostinato lulls us into a dreamlike soundscape. It’s easy to imagine wind chimes wafting in a gentle summer afternoon breeze on some distant New England porch. A few moments later, the pulse temporarily melts away into a sea of rhythmic complexity. As with many of Ives’ works, the final notes fade away into an eternal subconscious.
Here is a 1990 recording featuring clarinetist Richard Stoltzman, violinist Lucy Chapman-Stoltzman, and pianist Richard Goode:
- Ives: Largo for Violin, Clarinet, and Piano, Richard Stoltzman, Lucy Chapman-Stoltzman, Richard Goode iTunes