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Unanswered Question / Holidays

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Amazon's Leonard Bernstein Store


Image of album by Leonard Bernstein


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A musician of unparalleled versatility, Leonard Bernstein achieved worldwide renown in a career spanning nearly five decades - as an inspiring conductor and teacher, as a wide-ranging composer and author, as a gifted pianist.

As composer, he created a body of works extraordinarily diverse in form and style: for example, three symphonies (Jeremiah, The Age of Anxiety and Kaddish) the ... Read more in Amazon's Leonard Bernstein Store

Visit Amazon's Leonard Bernstein Store
for 375 albums, 13 photos, discussions, and more.

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Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
  1. The Unanswered Question for Trumpet, Flute Quartet and StringsLeonard Bernstein;New York Philharmonic 5:25£0.99  Buy MP3 
  2. Washington's BirthdayNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein11:31Album Only
  3. Holidays Symphony: Decoration DayNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein 8:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
  4. Holidays Symphony: The Fourth of JulyNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein 5:37£0.99  Buy MP3 
  5. Thanksgiving (Forefather's) DayNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein15:51Album Only
  6. Central Park in the DarkNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein;Seiji Ozawa 7:52£0.99  Buy MP3 
  7. Concerto for OrchestraNew York Philharmonic;Leonard Bernstein23:45Album Only

Product Description


The music of Charles Ives (1874-1954) draws from two basic sources: American folk songs and an active imagination. He was also the first composer to "characterize" New England in music. His showstopper, The Unanswered Question, is famous for its parallel themes that clash--one tonal, one atonal. This version of Question would be enough to recommend the disc, but what's even more interesting is Elliott Carter's Concerto for Orchestra. It's as if Carter wanted to write a concerto for orchestra as if Ives might have done it had he still been alive. It's a difficult work to both listen to and play. --Paul Cook

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Amazon.com: 1 review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Pioneering Ives and Carter. 24 Jun. 2012
By Alvaro Gomez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
My first acquaintance with Ives music was in 1980, when I listened to his 2nd symphony, in a record with Bernard Herrmann conducting the London Symphony Orchestra, and I wasn't put off by its extraordinary complexity, I was exhilarated with the generous use of musical quotes from different sources -Bach, religious hymns, popular american songs-, and I realized that it wasn't a chaotic or disorienting experience. In rapid progression I purchased his "Three places in New England" with Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra and the "Holidays Symphony" with Bernstein conducting, work that appears featured in this volume of the Bernstein Century series. "Holidays" is not really a symphony, it's assembled with four separate works, "Washington's Birthday", "Decoration Day", "The Fourth of July" and "Thanksgiving and Forefather's day". I remember how disappointed I was by the quality of the recording, which lost too much details of orchestration and nuances, and I felt that was a kind of love's labor lost for Bernstein and his Orchestra. I was lucky to attend a concert by the New York Philharmonic under Mehta in 1982, and they performed "Decoration Day", the "second movement" of the Holidays Symphony. That experience revealed the myriad details I suspected that lay underneath the multiple layers of ivesian orchestral sound. So, when this reissue appeared,I had some misgivings, fearing that the analog to digital transfer would enhance the worst from the original recording. Luckily it wasn't so.This is a careful transfer, not miraculous, but for the first time in 32 years I can listen to this pioneering recording of the Holidays Symphony da capo al fine without feeling uncomfortable. As for The Unanswered Question, this recording remains for me unbeatable, as well as Central Park in the dark. The recordings of these last two works by Bernstein with NYPO for DG, although favoured with an admirable sound quality, lack the spontaneity of the versions that appear on the Sony reissue. This versions won't fail to win new adepts for the music of America's most original composer, therefore are strongly recommended.
Regarding Elliot Carter's Concerto for orchestra, written in 1969, this recording proves to be much more exciting and alert than my previous reference recording with David Atherton conducting the London Sinfonietta. One of America's foremost comtemporary composers,Carter abandoned his original neoclassical trend and embraced atonalism, which led to the composition of works like his Variation for orchestra and the present one we are commenting. Certainly, it's not so engaging on first hearing like the works of Ives, but nonetheless it deserves attention. I feel more attracted to his Piano sonata, his Sonata for cello and piano, and the string quartets, but if you happen to run into the present cd, it will prove to be a most satisfactory experience in contemporary american music.
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