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With the merest addition of artificial reverb, the delicate balance of non-beating fifths is distorted audibly. When artificial reverb is added to pure fifths, the rare quality achieved by Ives in his imagination over a century ago becomes diminished.

If the recording of November 11, 2016 was dryer than usual, it is perhaps due to Queens College’s Aaron Copland School of Music recording engineer Rick Krahn’s careful placement of microphones over two different pianos in order to accomplish the virtual sense of a single instrument, as has always been associated with the piece.

The use of the spiral of pure fifths of the ratio 3/2, with added artificial reverb, creates the unexpected sensation of the traditional truncated perfect fifth of equal temperament. By using the “perfect” perfect fifths (at 702 cents) the circle is broken, allowing Ives to imagine more than double the musical intervals available for microtonal expression. The extension of expression is palpable upon listening to the results.

Special thanks to Mike Thorne of Stereo Society for making the preparations necessary for this release.

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