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Ives: Holidays Symphony


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Audio CD, October 25, 1990
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Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Samples
Song TitleArtist Time Price
listen  1. A Symphony: New England Holidays: Washington's BirthdayMichael Tilson Thomas;Chicago Symphony Orchestra;Fred Spector10:27Album Only
listen  2. A Symphony: New England Holidays: Decoration DayMichael Tilson Thomas;Chicago Symphony Orchestra 9:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. A Symphony: New England Holidays: The Fourth of JulyMichael Tilson Thomas;Chicago Symphony Orchestra 6:04$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Thanksgiving and Forefathers' DayMichael Tilson Thomas;Chicago Symphony Orchestra14:57Album Only
listen  5. The Unanswered Question (Revised version)Chicago Symphony Orchestra;Michael Tilson Thomas 7:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Central Park In The DarkChicago Symphony Orchestra;Michael Tilson Thomas 7:26$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. The Unanswered Question (Original Version)Chicago Symphony Orchestra;Michael Tilson Thomas 7:01$0.99  Buy MP3 


Frequently Bought Together

Ives: Holidays Symphony + Charles Ives: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4 / Hymns + Ives: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 / Bernstein discusses Charles Ives (Bernstein Century)
Price for all three: $24.70

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony
  • ASIN: B0000026G7
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,659 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Ives never really intended his four holiday symphonic poems to be played together, and they are very seldom performed that way live. But it makes so much sense to group them on a recording that the Holidays Symphony has become the standard way to refer to the music. In any event, all four pieces offer some of Ives'ss finest, most imaginative work. The Fourth of July is the second most complex and crazy piece that he ever wrote--right up there with the second movement of the Fourth Symphony. Tilson Thomas is very much a specialist in this music, and he directs performances of almost supernatural accuracy. Simply the best. --David Hurwitz

Customer Reviews

Careful and repeated listens will reveal hidden themes, sometimes so subliminal that they escape even the most attentive of listeners.
Frank C.
Meanwhile the Holidays Symphony is one of Ives's greatest and most communicative works, and the "Decoration Day" movement one of the summits of his music.
Amazon Customer
If you were exiled to a desert island and could only pick one recording of this disgracefully under-played composer, this could well be it.
Bella

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 23, 2002
Format: Audio CD
Take the insight of Michael Tilson Thomas, who's been conducting Ives throughout his career (his old Boston Symphony "Three Places" is still one of the best around), add one of the finest orchestras in the world and its celebrated brass section (Ives said he conceived all his music as if through "sort of a brass band with wings"), and finish with some genuinely inspired playing, and you've got a recording for the ages. It was a broadcast of the Chicago live performance, heard by chance on the radio, that gave me the idea to write my biography of Ives. Meanwhile the Holidays Symphony is one of Ives's greatest and most communicative works, and the "Decoration Day" movement one of the summits of his music. When Stravinsky was asked to define a masterpiece, he answered with "Decoration Day."
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on November 27, 2003
Format: Audio CD
The "Holidays Symphony" of Charles Ives, comprised of four movements to symbolize the passing of the four seasons by connecting them to important American holidays, was originally intended to be four standalone works, each of which could be performed separately in conjunction with its respective holiday.

Only later did Ives combine them as a four-movement "symphony." So, on this Thanksgiving Day of 2003, I chose to "deconstruct" them, just so that I might concentrate - for the occasion - on "Thanksgiving and Forefathers' Day."

This movement should, in my opinion, be numbered among the finest Ives compositions of all. It is brilliantly written and scored, with many original instrumental touches, particularly for percussion, where Ives calls upon low church bells, tubular bells and celesta, as well as an offstage ensemble of 4 horns, trombone and contrabassoon, all to marvelous effect. The ending, where the chorus enters singing to the words of the hymn tune "Duke Street," is simply breathtaking in its spirituality; truly transcendent and sublime.

But there are aspects to this movement that I've not seen anyone else mention, aspects that are startling in a prescient way, and therefore worth some mention. There is a quiet interlude, at about midpoint, scored for a reduced chamber ensemble of woodwinds, cornet, strings and celesta, that is "proto-Copland" in its sound texture, typical Coplandesque "Americana" yet written decades before "Appalachian Spring," which this section anticipates in a most remarkable way, with nearly identical chamber orchestra textures and, even, thematic ideas.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Hodges on November 7, 2002
Format: Audio CD
With Michael Tilson Thomas and the magnificent Chicago Symphony Orchestra in top form, this collection includes some of the best, most colorful works by this American master. Of the four holidays, "The Fourth of July" is irresistible - about seven minutes of extreme orchestral complexity, flaring up just like the rockets themselves and then expiring in exhaustion. Ives packs more into this score than some composers do in an hour, with colliding rhythms, blaring fortissimos and "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean" sailing above everything else. It is as exhilarating a ride as any composer has ever given us. "Decoration Day" eventually arrives at a somber moment at the cemetery with a touching trumpet solo playing "Taps," then ends with a joyously raucous march back to town. The moody "Washington's Birthday" and the stirring "Thanksgiving" complete the set, and by the end you may be thinking there has never been a composer who has captured the vivid, clashing emotions of the holidays with such accuracy.
Similarly melding the gentle with the explosive is the extraordinarily evocative "Central Park in the Dark," written in 1906. This densely written gem finds time to include the ragtime classic, "Hello, my Baby," among other tunes that make their surprise appearance during the chaotic climax.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of this disc is the inclusion of both versions of "The Unanswered Question," a gentle evocation of some of the sublime mysteries of the universe. The differences between the two versions are small, but
significant - and I won't spoil the thrill of discovery by revealing them here.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 1999
Format: Audio CD
Tilson Thomas delivers the goods here. My first experience with the Holidays Symphony was Bernstein's recording, very dear in my memory. Tilson Thomas' is just as evocative, and digital to boot. My favorite is Thanksgiving and/or Forefather's Day - a very emotional, cathartic movement, very rewarding. The Unaswered Question is musically a simpler construction. A good recording for a High School music appreciation class, yet it isn't just program music. Play it for your young Junior High student and solicit a response... they might suprise you. Well performed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Frank C. on September 12, 2007
Format: Audio CD
Since becoming my favorite "classical" composer some many years ago now, Ives' incredibly unique and uncompromising music has an unexplainable quality that works magic over repeated listens. With the Holidays, this is a case in point.

Not only do I consider Ives Holidays to be sitting at the pinnacle of Ives orchestral oeuvre (along with Robert Browning, Orchestral Sets Nos. 1 and 2, and the mighty Fourth), but you will not find a better or more convincing performance on disc as of late 2007. To my ears, the only competition is Sinclair's excellent "Washington's Birthday" on Naxos (coupled with a tremendous Third Symphony), but sadly that is only one of the four movements. The Two Contemplations also found here are excellent, with one of the finest and most mysterious "Unanswered Question" on any recording to date.

Just a few words in my own not-so-humble opinion regarding this music...

All too often, music such as this by Ives gets thrown around as highly "experimental". Nothing could be further from the truth. To label this extraordinary music as experimental is belittling Ives' creative vision and heartfelt aesthetics. This music was not written as a "test" to see whether it passes or fails, but rather music that is simply visionary and unprecedented at the time at which it was written, and even by today's standards. Careful and repeated listens will reveal hidden themes, sometimes so subliminal that they escape even the most attentive of listeners. Also, Ives' unbelievably creative use of polyrhythms and interrelationships of multiple polyphonic lines and melodies shows this composer in complete mastery of his idiom.
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