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Author Topic: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990  (Read 9953 times)

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Offline karlhenning

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #80 on: April 09, 2012, 07:40:26 AM »
Bernstein Symphony #2 "The Age of Anxiety"


What's your opinion of the symphonies, on the whole, Sarge?
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Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #81 on: April 09, 2012, 07:55:31 AM »
What's your opinion of the symphonies, on the whole, Sarge?

While not as original as his works for stage, I still think they are quite good. I especially like The Age of Anxiety.

Sarge
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Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #82 on: April 09, 2012, 01:50:11 PM »
While not as original as his works for stage, I still think they are quite good. I especially like The Age of Anxiety.

Sarge

I have been meaning to listen to these symphonies for quite a while now. I shall definitely make sure to do so soon.

I love the Symphonic Dances so much. So it would be interesting to hear more of his output. :)
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #83 on: April 09, 2012, 07:11:08 PM »
While not as original as his works for stage, I still think they are quite good. I especially like The Age of Anxiety.

Sarge

Yeah, The Age of Anxiety is a very good work. I liked Symphony No. 1 too though. I need to revisit these at some point. Of course, I also really enjoy all his stage works even the, sometimes embarrassing, Mass. Chichester Psalms and Serenade are good works. I'm still not sure about the 3rd symphony (Kiddish).
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Offline jlaurson

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #84 on: April 10, 2012, 03:29:59 AM »
Yeah, The Age of Anxiety is a very good work. I liked Symphony No. 1 too though. I need to revisit these at some point. Of course, I also really enjoy all his stage works even the, sometimes embarrassing, Mass. Chichester Psalms and Serenade are good works. I'm still not sure about the 3rd symphony (Kiddish).

"Not being sure" about the Kaddish is the furthest some people get in liking it.  ;)

Quote
...Eventually we get around to Axelrod’s performance of the “Symphony No.3 – Kaddish”, the purported reason for the ‘interview’ which is now the sprawling, genial conversation I like it to be. For one, it allows me to be frank about the feelings I harbor for that particular work (as indeed much, though not all of Bernstein’s œuvre). To put it succinctly: That Leonard Bernstein wasn’t struck by lightning after the premiere of the Kaddish Symphony is incontrovertible evidence that G_d doesn’t exist. Or, in case I’m wrong on that, that his mercy and clemency is indeed limitless. The works’ critics are less kind:

I suggest to Mr. Axelrod that the work is stunningly pompous, trite beyond belief; a public ego-trip down “Leonard Bernstein Emotion-Land”. What really sinks the work is the text, which I have called a “pseudo-rebellious, insolent, juvenile and presumptuous way of Bernstein dealing with his troubled adolescence, a dominant father, and his unsettled relationship with the creator”, but I have seen better described as “one of the most embarrassing extravagances of its author’s career; a witches’ brew of maudlin sentimentality, radical chic outrage, and caricature of an honorable Jewish tradition. […Though] Bernstein could write witty light verse, his attempts at serious poetry bled purpler than Barney the Dinosaur.”  Professional musicians seem split on the issue: Those who perform it think it has merit; the others seem to agree with the nickname “Symphony No.3 – Rubbish”. Calling it kitsch is still being too nice.

But that’s largely taking issue with the text, a weakness acknowledged even by Bernstein [and not the text that will be performed by Axelrod and the NSO]. Leonard revised and shortened the text in 1977 (the work was premiered in Tel Aviv in December of 1963; its US premiere took place a month later in Boston under Charles Munch, poor sod)… but the atrociousness remained, even in lesser dose. Bernstein’s daughter Jamie wrote a new text that was recorded by Leonard Slatkin in 2003 (Chandos). But her text’s principle achievement lied in not surpassing her father; inserting soft-spoken sentimental recollections of her father in the work, and achingly sincere trendy idioms that don’t sound at all trendy, but smarmy. Dryly commented a conductor familiar with the work: “It seems that the self-indulgent apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

The music might be a different matter. Upon hearing my first live performance, I thought it was the usual hodge-podge, from bits of dodecaphony to Broadway tunes, smeared with ambition. Or better phrased by a musician friend: “The tunes are saccharine and childlike (in a bad way) as often happens when Bernstein succumbs to that irresistible desire to write something profound and grand… a lot of people who program it also use it as a vehicle to show the world how close they were to Bernstein. So the self aggrandizement continues once removed.”...

from: http://www.weta.org/oldfmblog/?p=3178

Conclusion. If you must listen to that work, absolutely do it in the Samuel Pisar version, recorded by John Axelrod.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2012, 03:34:00 AM by jlaurson »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #85 on: April 10, 2012, 11:59:45 AM »
My favourite work by Bernstein is the 'Jeremiah Symphony'. The CBS/Sony version is the best but Slatkin's on Chandos is fine too, as is the earlier Bernstein on Dutton/Pearl.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #86 on: April 10, 2012, 12:18:34 PM »
My favourite work by Bernstein is the 'Jeremiah Symphony'. The CBS/Sony version is the best but Slatkin's on Chandos is fine too, as is the earlier Bernstein on Dutton/Pearl.

Thank you for those recommendations, Jeffrey! :)
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #87 on: April 10, 2012, 01:22:20 PM »
Thank you for those recommendations, Jeffrey! :)

Always a pleasure Daniel.  I find the lamenting vocal last movement of the Jeremiah very moving and, in a good performance, extremely compassionate.  In spirit Bernstein's 'Jeremiah' has always reminded me of Britten's 'Sinfonia da Requiem' with its juxtaposition of the turbulent and the compassionate.  There's a fine version on Naxos too.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #88 on: April 10, 2012, 10:26:12 PM »
I'm beginning to re-evaluate Bernstein's music and I have to say I'm very impressed with his music. His Jeremiah and Age of Anxiety symphonies are just fantastic. I also like Fancy Free, Serenade, Facsimile, On The Waterfront, Mass, Chichester Psalms, Divertimento, and Symphonic Dances. I think Bernstein, like one of my favorites, Tippett, wore his heart on his sleeve and wrote the music that he wanted to write even if he was greeted with almost immediate criticism. Like Tippett, Bernstein wasn't always successful in his endeavors but I admire him for taking risks, which I appreciate a lot more than a composer who simply plays it safe.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2012, 06:08:52 AM by Mirror Image »
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader.
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

"Sheep" - Pink Floyd

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #89 on: April 11, 2012, 02:22:53 AM »
I'm beginning to re-evaluate Bernstein's music and I have to say I'm very impressed with his music. His Jeremiah and Age of Anxiety symphonies are just fantastic. I also like Fancy Free, Serenade, Fascimile, On The Waterfront, Mass, Chichester Psalms, Divertimento, and Symphonic Dances. I think Bernstein, like one of my favorites, Tippett, wore his heart on his sleeve and wrote the music that he wanted to write even if he was greeted with almost immediate criticism. Like Tippett, Bernstein wasn't always successful in his endeavors but I admire him for taking risks, which I appreciate a lot more than a composer who simply plays it safe.

Very much agree with this. 'Facsimile' is a recent pleasurable discovery for me.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline madaboutmahler

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #90 on: April 11, 2012, 03:23:13 AM »
Always a pleasure Daniel.  I find the lamenting vocal last movement of the Jeremiah very moving and, in a good performance, extremely compassionate.  In spirit Bernstein's 'Jeremiah' has always reminded me of Britten's 'Sinfonia da Requiem' with its juxtaposition of the turbulent and the compassionate.  There's a fine version on Naxos too.

:) And, always a pleasure to recieve the recommendations too, Jeffrey!
I shall look forward to the last movement of the 'Jeremiah'!

I'm beginning to re-evaluate Bernstein's music and I have to say I'm very impressed with his music. His Jeremiah and Age of Anxiety symphonies are just fantastic. I also like Fancy Free, Serenade, Fascimile, On The Waterfront, Mass, Chichester Psalms, Divertimento, and Symphonic Dances. I think Bernstein, like one of my favorites, Tippett, wore his heart on his sleeve and wrote the music that he wanted to write even if he was greeted with almost immediate criticism. Like Tippett, Bernstein wasn't always successful in his endeavors but I admire him for taking risks, which I appreciate a lot more than a composer who simply plays it safe.

This is great to hear, John. :)
"Music is ... A higher revelation than all Wisdom & Philosophy"
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #91 on: April 11, 2012, 06:10:44 AM »
Very much agree with this. 'Facsimile' is a recent pleasurable discovery for me.

Yeah, Facsimile is a great work.
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader.
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

"Sheep" - Pink Floyd

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #92 on: April 11, 2012, 07:43:31 AM »
Yeah, Facsimile is a great work.

This is a fine (inexpensive) CD which couples Bernstein's historic recording of the 'Jeremiah Symphony' with Facsimile.  The same coupling of these performances is on the Pearl label.

"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline karlhenning

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #93 on: April 11, 2012, 07:50:44 AM »
Yeah, Facsimile is a great work.

Tell me of it; I must have heard the title back in the Deeps of Time, but I know nothing of the piece, John.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
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[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
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His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #94 on: April 11, 2012, 08:05:10 AM »
Tell me of it; I must have heard the title back in the Deeps of Time, but I know nothing of the piece, John.

Bernstein called it a "Choreographic Essay for Orchestra." It's a very groovy work, Karl. I think you'll dig it. I'll simply let the music speak for itself:

Part 1

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/Z2I3NhrQjKo" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/Z2I3NhrQjKo</a>

Part 2

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/qD-CnEGkaqM" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/qD-CnEGkaqM</a>
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader.
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

"Sheep" - Pink Floyd

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #95 on: April 11, 2012, 08:06:49 AM »
This is a fine (inexpensive) CD which couples Bernstein's historic recording of the 'Jeremiah Symphony' with Facsimile.  The same coupling of these performances is on the Pearl label.



You may or may not know that I'm not one for historical performances that are in mono. Thankfully, Bernstein re-recorded the work in better sound.
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader.
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

"Sheep" - Pink Floyd

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #96 on: April 11, 2012, 08:54:55 AM »
You may or may not know that I'm not one for historical performances that are in mono. Thankfully, Bernstein re-recorded the work in better sound.

Fair enough - I'll try to find a version on Cylinder or 78rpm for you John.  ;D
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #97 on: April 11, 2012, 09:50:43 AM »
Fair enough - I'll try to find a version on Cylinder or 78rpm for you John.  ;D

 :P
What do you get for pretending the danger's not real.
Meek and obedient you follow the leader.
Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
What a surprise!
A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
Now things are really what they seem.
No, this is no bad dream.

"Sheep" - Pink Floyd

Offline karlhenning

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #98 on: April 11, 2012, 10:09:56 AM »
Well, if you like Facsimile and Jeremiah and enjoy fine historic recordings, this is a great CD - in fact one of my Bernstein favourites. Note that Dutton say that very few are available and it is very good value at £5.99 in the UK. Inside it has a striking image of 'Jeremiah' from the original LP art work I think.

http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDBP9758


I'm usually not one for mono recordings . . . .

This is a fine (inexpensive) CD which couples Bernstein's historic recording of the 'Jeremiah Symphony' with Facsimile.  The same coupling of these performances is on the Pearl label.



You may or may not know that I'm not one for historical performances that are in mono. Thankfully, Bernstein re-recorded the work in better sound.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://henningmusick.blogspot.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Lisztianwagner

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #99 on: April 11, 2012, 11:09:35 AM »
I don't listen to Bernstein's music very often, I usually prefer him as a conductor; so far I've listened to just few of his compositions, which I definitely appreciated and I found very brilliant though: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, the Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront, Candide Ouverture and the 1st and 2nd symphony. In particular, I really like the orchestration of the Symphonic Dances, quite beautiful.
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