On Donald Berman Playing Ives
"There's probably no finer introduction to Ives's songs, or indeed to his
output as a whole."
"Berman is a first-rate pianist. . . . no one I have ever heard plays Ives better. . . .
he has a polyphonic mind to go along with the polyphonic fingers, a springing sense of rhythm,
a sense of humor and of awe at the wonder of things."
". . . Berman is a marvel. All of this music demands the highest virtuosity, as Ives was
experimenting and challenging his own formidable technique. Kirkpatrick's last pupil,
Berman plays Ives with both the clarity and power of Marc-Andre Hamelin and the delicacy
and grace of Gilbert Kalish."
". . . duly humorous and engaging in the ragtime, but strong and resolute elsewhere, with
luminous, neatly played chords that left no doubt as to why Ives needed to have so many notes
"Donald Berman is a superlative pianist, but as any number of attempts have shown, it
takes more than technique to bring Ives alive. To my ears, Berman's Ives most resembles
the playing of Ives himself . . . the same subtlety of voicing . . . the same power combined
with delicacy . . . "
"Bravo to Berman . . . for a great gift to American music."
"Ives's studies for piano constitute some of his thorniest music-crashing chords, polytonal
and polyrhythmic carryings-on, thick blizzards of notes from which emerge pop tunes, bugle
calls, church bells, and hymns. Berman looked on calmly while his hands, fingers, and feet
went their separate ways, pricking out Ives's and other peoples' tunes from the melee."
"His performance of Ives' Three Page Sonata was one of the best I've ever heard. The analytic
detail belying this sound-tiered polytonal masterpiece's impression of rugged spontaneity is
one of the crowning achievement of Ives' classical iconoclasm and a severe challenge to the
pianist. In Berman's hands, it unfolded as if played on two or more pianos, the many worlds
that seep into this unique musical space-time beautifully balanced in relief to one another."
"The Take-Offs are Ives at his most experimental and astonishing, and Berman's negotiation
of imposing technical and logical demands was highly impressive. . . . depth and quality
revealed in a multiplicity of dimensions."