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Ives: Symphony No. 2; Robert Browning Overture

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Audio CD, September 19, 2000
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$8.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Ives: Symphony No. 2; Robert Browning Overture + Ives: Emerson Concerto / Symphony No. 1 + Ives: Symphony No. 3
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Amazon.com

Don't let the budget label, little-known conductor, and regional orchestra fool you--here's an outstanding disc of important music, brilliantly interpreted and played. Even if you have the grand, but cut, old Leonard Bernstein performance of the symphony on Sony, this one's different. Naxos uses a new critical edition replete with changes in tempo, dynamics, and orchestration. The symphony may be the funniest in the repertory, flinging wildly disparate folk and pop tunes together in imaginative ways that defy rhyme or reason, yet make perfect sense in the context of Ives's innovative soundworld. The Robert Browning Overture is no mere curtain-raiser, but one of Ives's toughest works, moving from a mysterious opening in the strings to braying brass and pounding drums. This is one of the best releases in Naxos's outstanding American Classics series. Don't miss it. --Dan Davis


Product Details

  • Orchestra: Nashville Symphony
  • Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn
  • Composer: Charles Ives
  • Audio CD (September 19, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Naxos American Classics
  • Run Time: 67 minutes
  • ASIN: B00004XSM6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,298 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Bob Zeidler on September 30, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Following hard on the heels of Schermerhorn's Nashville Symphony Orchestra recording (also on Naxos) of some essential music of Howard Hanson is this new release of Ives' Symphony No. 2, coupled with his Robert Browning Overture. Schermerhorn and his Nashville group show signs of being fitting successors to Hanson himself, as well as Leonard Bernstein, Michael Tilson Thomas, Leonard Slatkin and Gerhard Schwarz, for definitive recorded performances of core-repertory American music.

With the release of this album, earlier recordings of Ives' 2nd Symphony are, for all intents and purposes, pass , and, in key passages in the work, wrong. This new critical edition, prepared by Jonathan Elkus of the Charles Ives Society, corrects nearly 1,000 long-standing manuscript errors that have been repeated in recordings (and performances) dating back at least as early as Bernstein's late-'50's New York Philharmonic Orchestra recording on Columbia. Many of the corrections are quite minor, and may pass unnoticed by most listeners. But anyone familiar with this work will recognize the major corrections, including one to the concluding "raspberry" that thumbs its nose at the music establishment in which Ives served as both member and iconoclast. To say more here is to deprive you of the enjoyment of your own first hearing of this performance, which Schermerhorn has recently "taken on the road" with his orchestra, receiving rave reviews recently for a performance at Carnegie Hall.

The discmate, Ives' "Robert Browning Overture," is altogether more challenging for both musician and listener, coming, as it does, from a later period in Ives' compositional life when his music seemed to focus on more cosmic themes.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "ghills123" on October 1, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Anyone familiar with Ives' music most likely knows his great Symphony No. 2 - a grand romantic work that matches the European masters in its technical assuredness, while suprising the listener with constant references to various American musical idioms. The Robert Browning Overture, however, is perhaps the last of Ives' major orchestral works to get a digital recording. And what a fine recording it is. Using the Ives Society's recent critical edition, Kenneth Schermerhorn and the Nashville S.O. give yet more evidence that Ives is among the greatest musical geniuses of this century. In turns dark, enigmatic, violent and ecstatic, it is a profound evocation of Browning and his writings. It is also important to point out that not only is this recording valuable for the works it presents, but also because the performances are excellent and the sound qaulity superb. The latter is especially important in a work of such highly contrasted volumes as the Browning Overture. Definitely a disc worth having.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Thomas F. Bertonneau on November 18, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Interest in Charles Ives (1874-1954) peaked in the 1970s. I remember playing the Bernstein LP of the "Holidays" Symphony with the volume cranked up on the cabinet stereo in the family house - especially "The Fourth of July" - in order to consternate my parents or visiting relatives. Stokowski's pioneering LP of the Fourth Symphony served the same purpose "pour epater les bourgeoises." Later I enjoyed the privilege of talking at length to Nicolas Slonimsky, who took up the Ivesian cause, much to the detriment of his conductorial career, already in the 1920s. Slonimsky, no artistic slouch himself (although entirely modest), said that he knew Ives to be a genius within seconds of meeting him, in New York, in 1925. He insisted on the immediacy of the impression. A genius, yes, but, I dare say, also an amateur, for Ives left scores perpetually incomplete, flitted between styles (often in the same piece), and felt the need to justify his experiments in prose explanations which now seem tedious and irrelevant. Music cannot be rescued by explanations. Ives's best work comes from his Yale period and briefly thereafter, when a few mentors like Parker still exercised some cautionary influence over him. The Second Symphony (1902-1910) is probably his most finished score and admits the experimental, nose-thumbing elements within a context that testifies to the composer's competency in traditional forms. Bernstein legendarily put the Second Symphony into the repertory by performing it, in a radio broadcast, in 1951. Bernard Hermann made an LP of it in the late 1960s for London. The Second has probably been recorded a dozen times. The new recorded performance under Kenneth Schermerhorn, who leads the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, forms part of the Naxos "American Classics" series.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 21, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Charles Ives (1874-1954) wrote music in an American idiom incorporating American folk tunes and spirituals. He had the ambition that compositions of this nature would find a receptive audience. Ives also composed what remains some of the most difficult, modernistic music of the 20th Century, notable for its atonality, dissonance, and polyrhythm. It is a challenge to hear and to perform. Ives, or course, hoped for an audience for this music as well, while realizing its experimental "hard" character. Much of Ives's music combines both the "hard" and the "soft" elements.
The CD discussed here includes one work by Ives at his "hardest" -- the Robert Browning Overture and a work by Ives at his most accessible -- the Symphony No. 2. The disc is part of the Naxos "American Classics" series. The music is beautifully performed using an updated critical edition by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra directed by Kenneth Schermerhorn and is available at a bargain price.
Ives intended the "Robert Browning Overture" as part of a larger, never-completed project devoted to the work of famous authors. The work is based on Browning's poem "Paracelsus" and for me captures some of the mysterious spirit of alchemy and of the perils of trying to bring entirely nature under human control. The work runs about 25 minutes and alternates muted, mystical music with a loud march-like theme full of dissonances. The brass blares, the strings are shril, and the tympani plays an incessant boom -boom in the backround. Some of this music reminded me of a sophisticated version of Dukas's Sorcerer's Apprentice. Ives became dissatisfied with this piece late in his life apparently because he found it excessively formal.
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