Author Topic: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990  (Read 10169 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« on: May 13, 2009, 03:20:23 AM »
Colin has pointed out that there is no Bernstein thread - so here goes. I have always liked (some) of his music.  My favourite work is the early 'Jeremiah Symphony' (Symphony No 1). I have recordings by Bernstein, Bernstein and Bernstein (Dutton, Sony, DGG). The Sony version is best. I also have a recording by Slatkin (an underrated conductor IMHO) on Chandos and a very good Naxos version with James Judd conducting the NZSO (see below).  My other favourites are his only film score 'On the Waterfront', West Side Story - Symphonic Dances and Facsimile. Any other views on 'Lennie'.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bernstein-Symphony-Jeremiah-Concerto-Orchestra/dp/B000111BY2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242213848&sr=1-1


http://www.leonardbernstein.com
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 07:28:29 AM by vandermolen »
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

secondwind

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2009, 04:16:00 AM »
His televised Young People's Concerts helped spark my early interest in classical music and convince me that I could listen intelligently to "serious" music.  It is impossible to know the full extent of his influence on attitudes toward classical music in this country, but I expect it was enormous.  Is there a musician today, conductor or performer or composer, who has the level of popularity and name recognition that Bernstein attained?  In terms of his compositions, one of my personal favorites is Candide.  I also love watching old film footage of him conducting.

Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2009, 06:59:40 AM »
My favourites are the early clarinet sonata, the wonderful Meditations from Mass arranged for cello and orchestra for Rostropovich, and West Side Story. Also very partial Candide, On the Waterfront, Violin Serenade and Jeremiah - the other two symphonies, aside from a few lovely moments, largely leave me cold. The rumour has always been that he was frustrated that he had never produced an enequivocal masterpiece... I think I agree that nothing he wrote is amongst the very finest of 20th century works, but alot is very good indeed, and I like his music a lot.
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Offline Dundonnell

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2009, 08:32:43 AM »
Astonishing, wasn't it, that Bernstein the composer should not have had a thread of his own!

I agree with Jeffrey about the Jeremiah Symphony and share his preference for the old Sony version conducted by the composer but also admire the excellent Naxos/Judd version. The Serenade for Violin, String orchestra, Harp and Percussion is a lovely work(I have the Sony-Zino Francescatti, Nimbus-Hu Kun and the Naxos-Philippe Quint versions). Another favourite is the marvellous "Chichester Psalms".

Some of the rest of Bernstein's ouput does seem a tad 'manufactured' at times. I recently acquired the Concerto for Orchestra and the Ballet "Dybbuk" but was not overly impressed by either. As for the Mass..........! Too 'far out' for my old-fashioned tastes :o
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 04:51:34 PM by Dundonnell »

Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2009, 09:12:15 AM »
I really should try the Mass again. I remember borrowing it from the library as a youngster and thinking it was both shocking in its polystylicity and boring. I was only young though!
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karlhenning

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2009, 09:37:07 AM »
I really should try the Mass again. I remember borrowing it from the library as a youngster and thinking it was both shocking in its polystylicity and boring. I was only young though!

Some listeners past their first youth have borne a similar impression (just saying).

Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2009, 10:23:32 AM »
Some listeners past their first youth have borne a similar impression (just saying).

Oh yeah, I'm more than willing to imagine that that is a possibility - but I sometimes don't trust my youthful ears which rejected the Barber cello concerto, Walton viola concerto and aforementioned Meditations from the abovementioned Mass(!) which are in fact all wonderful.
Geologist.

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karlhenning

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2009, 10:34:50 AM »
Oh yeah, I'm more than willing to imagine that that is a possibility - but I sometimes don't trust my youthful ears which rejected the Barber cello concerto, Walton viola concerto and aforementioned Meditations from the abovementioned Mass(!) which are in fact all wonderful.

You are entirely right to put to a fresh audition, music which didn't sing to you erewhile!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2009, 11:06:00 AM »
Thanks for replies. I must search out the Clarinet sonata, which I have never heard and listen again to the Serenade. Maybe West Side Story was his masterpiece.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2009, 03:19:17 PM »
Thanks for replies. I must search out the Clarinet sonata, which I have never heard and listen again to the Serenade. Maybe West Side Story was his masterpiece.

Probably was. Might I perversely suggest that you try Yo-Yo Ma's recording of the clarinet sonata, arranged by him, with Leonard Bernstein's permission. This is probably my single favourite Ma CD - he was at his absolute peak when he recorded it - the accuracy and perfection of his earlier days along with his later expressivity and freeness. Wonderful. (the Ives piano trio has never been better recorded than it is here - they really reveal it for the masterpiece that it is. And the Gershwin arrangement are dazzling Heifetz transcriptions, mostly at the same pitch as the violin originals - pure delight).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Made-America-Yo-Yo-Ma/dp/B0000028UF/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242256575&sr=8-4
Geologist.

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Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2009, 03:22:45 PM »
Of course I recommend getting the original clarinet version too, but feel that this transcription yields nothing to the original, and indeed the musicians are so great and have such a good feel for the music, that there are insights here that are only occasionally matched elsewhere.
Geologist.

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secondwind

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2009, 06:04:29 PM »
Might I perversely suggest that you try Yo-Yo Ma's recording of the clarinet sonata, arranged by him, with Leonard Bernstein's permission.
I was unaware of this version.  It is refreshing to see a string player stealing something from the (relatively meager) clarinet repertoire.  Usually the theft is in the other direction!

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2009, 12:28:13 AM »
Probably was. Might I perversely suggest that you try Yo-Yo Ma's recording of the clarinet sonata, arranged by him, with Leonard Bernstein's permission. This is probably my single favourite Ma CD - he was at his absolute peak when he recorded it - the accuracy and perfection of his earlier days along with his later expressivity and freeness. Wonderful. (the Ives piano trio has never been better recorded than it is here - they really reveal it for the masterpiece that it is. And the Gershwin arrangement are dazzling Heifetz transcriptions, mostly at the same pitch as the violin originals - pure delight).

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Made-America-Yo-Yo-Ma/dp/B0000028UF/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=music&qid=1242256575&sr=8-4

I will, many thanks.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline jowcol

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2009, 09:28:19 AM »
I also chime in on the "On the Waterfront" suite-- I love to listening to it walking alone at night.  The last three or four minutes is really powerful stuff.

The second symphony gets off to a slow start, but the second half is really fine, in my book.  I'll need to get the Jeremiah...
"If it sounds good, it is good."
Duke Ellington

Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2009, 12:39:02 PM »
One of the moments in the second symphony that I adore is when the piano first comes in - so simple, so elegant. The whole thing fails to convince me - just a bit unemotional and barren...

On the Waterfront is great when theres 2 timpanists and a bass drum all going strong - saw it live and was blown away. And also the sax parts are just great. Such economy in this music too - he does so much with so little.
Geologist.

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hornteacher

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2009, 05:26:04 PM »
Huge Lenny fan here.  I've been showing some footage of his conducting to my students and they really enjoy it.

Some favorite LB compositions:

Prelude Fugue and Riffs
Serenade for Violin
On the Town
On the Waterfront
Fancy Free Ballet
Candide
WSS
Clarinet Sonata
Jeremiah Symphony
Mass (and it was good brother.......).
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 05:27:38 PM by hornteacher »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #16 on: September 03, 2010, 12:00:24 PM »
I haven't heard that much of Bernstein's own music except for the Serenade, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, On The Waterfront, and Fancy Free. These works were highly appealing to me, so this had led me to investigate his music further. I just received his Mass (with Bernstein conducting) in the mail today, so I'm hoping to listen to this work soon. I'm still waiting on the other discs I have of his coming.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 12:08:14 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #17 on: September 03, 2010, 01:35:51 PM »
I haven't heard that much of Bernstein's own music except for the Serenade, Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, On The Waterfront, and Fancy Free. These works were highly appealing to me, so this had led me to investigate his music further. I just received his Mass (with Bernstein conducting) in the mail today, so I'm hoping to listen to this work soon. I'm still waiting on the other discs I have of his coming.

Try the Jeremiah Symphony - a fine work.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #18 on: September 03, 2010, 01:37:32 PM »
Try the Jeremiah Symphony - a fine work.

I have two versions of it (both Bernstein on Sony and DG), but haven't got them in the mail yet. Trust me I plan on hearing it. :)
"Music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music." - Sergei Rachmaninov

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #19 on: September 03, 2010, 01:41:00 PM »

I have two versions of it (both Bernstein on Sony and DG), but haven't got them in the mail yet. Trust me I plan on hearing it. :)

Let us know what you think. I prefer the Sony version.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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