"My vote for the finest Ives orchestral recording ever made," wrote Jan Swafford, the noted biographer of Charles Ives, about Michael Tilson Thomas' recording of the Holidays with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Now we have a contender covering a completely different portion of Ives' output: his songs, perhaps his most intimate creations. Last night I was in rapture listening to baritone Gerald Finley and pianist Julius Drake on a recent Hyperion recording with an impressively chosen group of 31 (of the 114 that exist), including outstanding versions of Memories (1897), Ich Grolle Nicht (1898), Like a Sick Eagle (1920) and the rarely done Slugging a Vampire (1902). I first became aware of Finley on the recent DVD of Kaija Saariaho's opera, L'Amour de Loin, but that didn't prepare me for his riveting work here. His mellifluous voice, with spot-on diction and a keen ear for drama, all combine to make not only one of the best Ives recordings ever, but one of the best recital discs, period. Drake is superb in the often hair-raising piano parts.