It used to be that the majority of good Ives recordings were American, and it was thought that you had to be American to really catch the complex web of vernacular musical references on which Ives' music rests. But it's a rare nonspecialist American listener today who will identify all the 19th century hymns and band tunes that go by, and this highly successful recording by Sir Andrew Davis and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra tackles a different difficulty with Ives: the problem of balance and clarity in his large orchestral scores. The conductor's note by Davis is worth the price of admission here, as when he points to a passage in the first movement of the Symphony: New England Holidays (sample track one) where Ives realized the difficulty of hearing a solo Jew's harp and suggested instead "half a dozen to a hundred of them." Co-starring with Davis is the Chandos engineering team, working in a couple of different Australian halls. The performances of the Holidays Symphony and the rare large version of the Orchestral Set No. 1: Three Places in New England (generally known simply by its subtitle) are rich indeed, tapestries of orchestral detail that give you the feeling this is how Ives wanted the music to be heard. And the two shorter works, presented here as Ives intended them, as entr'actes, are equally good: the final The Unanswered Question, with an impressively hushed quality throughout (putting quite the demands on the unidentified trumpeter), is a standout reading of this popular work. Strongly recommended.