Keeping Score - Ives: Holidays Symphony
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It seems to me that both Tilson Thomas and the S.F. Symphony are at their very best for these incredibly well produced "Keeping Score" docu-concerts. All of them are winners, with the Ives and Stravinsky (Rite Of Spring) leading the pack. Bernstein himself couldn't have done better on Ives. More, please! (how about Rimsky's "Mlada", a Tilson Thomas specialty).
The MTT/San Francisco Symphony KEEPING SCORE DVD of Ives' HOLIDAYS SYMPHONY is the ideal approach to Ives for first time listeners or people with a casual acquaintance with his music. Like the old Leonard Bernstein YOUNG PEOPLE'S CONCERTS (which weren't just for young people) on which it is clearly modeled, KEEPING SCORE allows us through pictures and orchestral demonstartions to see what Ives was attempting to do in his music. With this as a guide, it all comes together in a way that once you've seen it, you'll always remember it and will be able to hear the music in a different light.Read more ›
In starting the disc, we find a 90 second montage showing musicians and MTT, where the announcer says, "What is the secret of classical music?" Then, we see a menu of 5 choices: (1) Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique; (2) Shostakovich's Symph. No. 5; (3) Beethoven's Eroica; (4) Stravinsky's rite of Spring; and (5) Copland's Appalachian Spring. Each of these choices provides a 10 minute excerpt from the other discs of this series. There is also the choice of going to the main menu.
The main menu includes these choices: (1) HOLIDAYS SYMPHONY with narration, film clips of marching bands, misty lakes, and snippets of Ives' biography; (2) The actual HOLIDAYS SYMPHONY without narration or photo-montages; (3) A short movie about the robotic cameras and video technicians; and (4) Setup (subtitles in English, Spanish, French, German, Cantonese, Mandarin).
This is about WASHINGTON'S BIRTHDAY (with narration): MTT tells us that "this is music that veers between tender sentiment and savage chaos." We are shown Ives' house in Redding, Connecticut and its interior. MTT sits inside and plays on Ives' old, beat-up piano. MTT exclaims, "Does he [Ives] want me to stand up and slug it out with him?!?" Then, we see a boy tossing a stone in a lake, and a girl walking on a railroad track in the countryside. We see Ives' childhood house in Danbury, Connecticut. Then, there is a reenactment of 2 actual marching bands, playing 2 different tunes, and then marching through each other (something that Charles Ives' father had experimented with).Read more ›
The successful insurance magnate Ives had in fact much in common with the bearded bohemian Whitman, though they might have been awkward companions at a dinner table. Both were Transcendentalists -- vaporous but compelling idealists, in short -- and swelling patriots. Like Mahler, Ives blended folksy and bumptious musical matter into his ambitious, original symphonies. Both composer were forthrightly "metaphysical" in their intentions. Both were obsessed with memory and memories. Both would have been huge WG Sebald readers if they'd lived close to our times.
The concert performance of the four symphonic movements includes the reading of Ives's own programmatic introductions to the holidays depicted. To my ears, each of the four movements deserves to be heard singly, in detachment, and the program-reading serves that purpose. I might only wish that MTT had a twangy New England accent. The music itself, of course, is the meat inside Michael Thomashefsky's DVD piroshki.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This Ives' work its very complex in its estructure and meaning, but MTT expose it like a book showing all its beautyPublished on April 23, 2014 by Jorge Larrea Jorquera
The whole series of Keeping Score with Michael Tilson Thomas is amazing. I have loved all the ones that I have watched. Read morePublished on July 15, 2012 by David Smith
MTT is the finest conductor of the music of American individualist Charles Ives. In fact, he always was, right from the beginning of his career, which was with the Boston Symphony... Read morePublished on September 2, 2011 by stevenrothbard