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Ives: Holidays Symphony; The Unanswered Question; Central Park In The Dark (Thomas, 1986)

An album that contains three orchestral works by Charles Ives (1874–1954), an American composer known for his music including experimental elements such as polytonality, atonality, polyrhythm and microtonality, and traditional elements such as American folk and hymn.

“A Symphony: New England Holidays”, also known as “Holiday Symphony”, is an assemblage of four orchestral works composed in 1897 to 1913 separately.

It is a set of pieces like impressionistic tone poems, with lots of quotations and dissonances, inspired by his childhood memories in Danbury, Connecticut in the end of the 19th century. It has quotations from marches, hymns, patriotic songs and others.

It consists of four movements, “Washington’s Birthday”, “Decoration Day”, “The Fourth of July”, and “Thanksgiving and Forefathers’ Day”.

The third movement “The Fourth of July” makes up something like a chaotic collage of sound, in which each part performs a different piece and overlaps each other.

The album also includes two orchestral works using polytonality and atonality, which were innovative for the time, “Central Park in the Dark” for chamber orchestra (1906) and “The Unanswered Question” for chamber group (1908. Revised in 1930–1935).

Michael Tilson Thomas conducts Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Chicago Symphony Chorus.

Digital Recording in 1986. Released from CBS Masterworks Records in 1988.

Ives: "The Unanswered Question"