Author Topic: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990  (Read 56946 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2010, 01:15:47 PM »
Let us know what you think. I prefer the Sony version.

Will do, vandermolen.
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2010, 06:00:11 PM »
I have listened to Bernstein's Jeremiah several times now, the Sony version, and have been really impressed. I love Age of Anxiety too. Beautiful music, highly rhythmic. I haven't heard the Bernstein Conducts Bernstein DG recordings yet, but received the 7-CD set in the mail yesterday, so I'm hoping to hear them tomorrow sometime.
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2010, 08:05:14 PM »
Watching some short clips of Bernstein conducting his West Side Story and he really is such a meticulous conductor. I never watched him rehearse, so this was an enjoyable experience. He meant business when he got on that podium. He was really giving Carreras hell! I love it! You can see how frustrated Carreras was getting with Bernstein's constant stoping and starting and hounding him about certain sections. You don't become one of the best conductors in the world by sitting on your tail and being nice to everybody. If you're not playing up to Bernstein's standards, then he'll swallow you whole!  :P
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2010, 10:19:49 PM »
I've got this cd, which includes Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar's moving narration of Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony. He was also a good friend of the composer. I find it hard to believe how this was done live, Pisar does not make a single slip up. This is not the greatest symphony in the world (perhaps even somewhat outshone by the couplings on this disc, but such comparisons are meaningless, they're all excellent works). However, it is still very dramatic and theatrical (was there anything that Bernstein wrote that didn't have an element of the theatrical about it?). Someone described his music as "brutal, brittle and brilliant," & listening to this, I find it hard to disagree with that...

« Last Edit: September 05, 2010, 10:22:09 PM by Sid »

Offline mc ukrneal

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2010, 12:08:28 AM »
Watching some short clips of Bernstein conducting his West Side Story and he really is such a meticulous conductor. I never watched him rehearse, so this was an enjoyable experience. He meant business when he got on that podium. He was really giving Carreras hell! I love it! You can see how frustrated Carreras was getting with Bernstein's constant stoping and starting and hounding him about certain sections. You don't become one of the best conductors in the world by sitting on your tail and being nice to everybody. If you're not playing up to Bernstein's standards, then he'll swallow you whole!  :P
They never did get all of it quite right. It is interesting with Bernstein conducting his own work, but I really think some of the singers were just wrong for the parts.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2010, 12:57:42 AM »
I have listened to Bernstein's Jeremiah several times now, the Sony version, and have been really impressed. I love Age of Anxiety too. Beautiful music, highly rhythmic. I haven't heard the Bernstein Conducts Bernstein DG recordings yet, but received the 7-CD set in the mail yesterday, so I'm hoping to hear them tomorrow sometime.

Pleased you enjoyed 'Jeremiah' - my favourite Bernstein score.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2010, 02:19:49 AM »
Just ordered this 10 CDs Bernstein conducts Bernstein - looks like a great set.
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #27 on: September 06, 2010, 07:18:32 AM »
Just ordered this 10 CDs Bernstein conducts Bernstein - looks like a great set.

I could have bought that set, but it was too expensive or at least I thought it was, so I ended up buying the Bernstein Century individual recordings, which costs me around $3-$4 including the $3 recording of Mass I picked up. The Bernstein Conducts Bernstein set on DG cost me around $22, which is not a bad deal for 7-CDs.
 
The only thing I'm lacking from that Sony set is the recording of the complete ballet of Dybbuk, which this recording is out-of-print and the On The Town recording.
 
I also picked up all of the Naxos Bernstein discs for around $2-$3 with the exception of the $10 Mass Alsop 2-CD recording.
 
Needless to say, I'm done with Bernstein now. :D
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #28 on: September 06, 2010, 07:24:37 AM »
They never did get all of it quite right. It is interesting with Bernstein conducting his own work, but I really think some of the singers were just wrong for the parts.

I do too ukrneal. I especially thought Kiri Te Kanawa was wrong.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #29 on: September 06, 2010, 07:50:52 AM »
I've got this cd, which includes Holocaust survivor Samuel Pisar's moving narration of Bernstein's Kaddish Symphony. He was also a good friend of the composer. I find it hard to believe how this was done live, Pisar does not make a single slip up. This is not the greatest symphony in the world (perhaps even somewhat outshone by the couplings on this disc, but such comparisons are meaningless, they're all excellent works). However, it is still very dramatic and theatrical (was there anything that Bernstein wrote that didn't have an element of the theatrical about it?). Someone described his music as "brutal, brittle and brilliant," & listening to this, I find it hard to disagree with that...


"Brutal, brittle, and brilliant" are great words to describe Bernstein's music, but I haven't heard all of his music yet. So far I've been impressed with everything I've heard even the strange and sometimes terrible Mass. His first and second symphonies are really impressive and have beautiful moments. I haven't heard Kaddish yet, but I have three versions of it, so it's only a matter of time before I do.
 
Outside the the symphonic dances from West Side Story, the film music of On The Waterfront, and Candide Overture, I can't believe I've neglected his output for so long.
 
What have you heard and liked by Bernstein, Sid?
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #30 on: September 06, 2010, 11:58:48 AM »

I could have bought that set, but it was too expensive or at least I thought it was, so I ended up buying the Bernstein Century individual recordings, which costs me around $3-$4 including the $3 recording of Mass I picked up. The Bernstein Conducts Bernstein set on DG cost me around $22, which is not a bad deal for 7-CDs.
 
The only thing I'm lacking from that Sony set is the recording of the complete ballet of Dybbuk, which this recording is out-of-print and the On The Town recording.
 
I also picked up all of the Naxos Bernstein discs for around $2-$3 with the exception of the $10 Mass Alsop 2-CD recording.
 
Needless to say, I'm done with Bernstein now. :D

I bought it for around 20 pounds, so only about two pounds per CD. It duplicates a lot of stuff I already have but I don't have the Mass or Dybbuk.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #31 on: September 06, 2010, 01:36:25 PM »
I bought it for around 20 pounds, so only about two pounds per CD. It duplicates a lot of stuff I already have but I don't have the Mass or Dybbuk.

The Bernstein Dybbuk recording on Sony is out-of-print, so this is the CD I need to require. I also don't own On The Town, but have considered picking it up at some point.
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #32 on: September 06, 2010, 05:31:48 PM »

...What have you heard and liked by Bernstein, Sid?

Well my favourite would have to be Fancy Free. I like it's jazziness, lightness & rhythmic vitality (does this work include improvisation?). As I said above, I like the Kaddish Symphony, although it can be slightly draining (haven't heard his other two symphonies yet). The Serenade for violin & orchestra (on Plato's Symposium) is also a good work, but I haven't heard it in a while (got the Perlman/Boston Symphony/Ozawa recording). Might dig it out tonight.

& I also love the suite from On the Waterfront. I knew the music before I saw the film, but the film is such a powerful experience. Especially when Marlon Brando is all beaten up at the end, and still walks away from the corrupt union boss - the other workers all follow him. Then the coda to Bernstein's score, which is so grand, and as gritty as the subject matter itself. This was a landmark film, not only for the score, but also the acting - it was one of the first films (I think) that used method acting and improvisation. So it was quite fitting that Bernstein, one of the top USA composers of the time, would write the music. I haven't seen it since the mid '90's, but it made a very strong impression on me (I saw it in the cinema, after the remastered version was re-released).

As for his West Side Story, On the Town & Candide - they are great to, but musical theatre doesn't interest me as much. I have heard the Mass & I enjoyed it, but I'm not really into liturgical works that are that long (but I know, it's more of a musical about a mass than a traditional mass per se). I heard Prelude, Fugue and Riffs on the radio a while back, it is written for jazz band, but (again) I'm not sure if it's a strictly notated score or did he give room for improvisation? It sounds like that but I could be wrong...

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #33 on: September 06, 2010, 08:38:37 PM »
Well my favourite would have to be Fancy Free. I like it's jazziness, lightness & rhythmic vitality (does this work include improvisation?). As I said above, I like the Kaddish Symphony, although it can be slightly draining (haven't heard his other two symphonies yet). The Serenade for violin & orchestra (on Plato's Symposium) is also a good work, but I haven't heard it in a while (got the Perlman/Boston Symphony/Ozawa recording). Might dig it out tonight.

& I also love the suite from On the Waterfront. I knew the music before I saw the film, but the film is such a powerful experience. Especially when Marlon Brando is all beaten up at the end, and still walks away from the corrupt union boss - the other workers all follow him. Then the coda to Bernstein's score, which is so grand, and as gritty as the subject matter itself. This was a landmark film, not only for the score, but also the acting - it was one of the first films (I think) that used method acting and improvisation. So it was quite fitting that Bernstein, one of the top USA composers of the time, would write the music. I haven't seen it since the mid '90's, but it made a very strong impression on me (I saw it in the cinema, after the remastered version was re-released).

As for his West Side Story, On the Town & Candide - they are great to, but musical theatre doesn't interest me as much. I have heard the Mass & I enjoyed it, but I'm not really into liturgical works that are that long (but I know, it's more of a musical about a mass than a traditional mass per se). I heard Prelude, Fugue and Riffs on the radio a while back, it is written for jazz band, but (again) I'm not sure if it's a strictly notated score or did he give room for improvisation? It sounds like that but I could be wrong...

No, none of Bernstein's music has improvised parts or at least none that I'm aware of. I highly doubt they do because although Bernstein loved jazz, I think he was more influenced by jazz. He used a lot of the rhythms and harmonies of jazz, but the improvisational aspect of it is where I think he drew the line in his own music. Even works like West Side Story or Candide are all written out, but sometimes there seems like there's an element of improvisation in the music, which kind of gives the listener the illusion of improv.
 
He composed a lot of serious music too. I would say his three symphonies, Serenade, On The Waterfront, Chichester Psalms, Halil (for solo flute, strings, and percussion) are all very serious in tone, but even these works have a certain playfulness to them from time to time.
 
Bernstein, in his own music, seems to blur the lines between beauty and vulgarity. I think succeeds quite well.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 08:41:38 PM by Mirror Image »
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #34 on: September 06, 2010, 09:48:03 PM »

...Bernstein, in his own music, seems to blur the lines between beauty and vulgarity. I think succeeds quite well.

Yes, the same can be said of Schnittke, whose "collage" pieces masterfully combined high and low art. Bernstein too showed that these need not (always?) be polar opposites, his music can appeal not only to those who like musicals but also the seasoned classical listener and concert goer. But I think that he is still fairly neglected in the concert hall (around here in Australia, anyway), but West Side Story is hugely popular here in the theatre, in fact there is a live production on right now in Sydney and touring the country...

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #35 on: September 06, 2010, 09:56:23 PM »
Yes, the same can be said of Schnittke, whose "collage" pieces masterfully combined high and low art. Bernstein too showed that these need not (always?) be polar opposites, his music can appeal not only to those who like musicals but also the seasoned classical listener and concert goer. But I think that he is still fairly neglected in the concert hall (around here in Australia, anyway), but West Side Story is hugely popular here in the theatre, in fact there is a live production on right now in Sydney and touring the country...

I like the way Bernstien incorporates these two sides into his music, but the way he does it so seemless. It doesn't really come as a shock. It's not like, for example, in Pettersson's popular Symphony No. 7 where all of this dissonance is poured onto the listener, but then all of sudden this ray of light comes burning through that darkness. Those contrasts, if not ready for them, can throw a listener off, but with Bernstein's this just isn't an issue.
 
I really admire composers like Ravel, Prokofiev, Mahler, etc., who can change these moods so quickly and make them sound like one continuous stream.
 
As far as Bernstein's own popularlity as a composer, his star, like so many other composers who have died within the last 20-30 years, has yet to shine. His musicals were popular during their day, but his serious music still has quite some time to catch on, but it's slowly getting there. There seems to be more conductors promoting his music at least in terms of recordings, then has been in the past. Marrin Alsop seems to be the top Bernstein advocate right now on and off the stage.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2013, 06:51:26 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline jowcol

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #36 on: September 07, 2010, 12:52:42 AM »
I bought it for around 20 pounds, so only about two pounds per CD. It duplicates a lot of stuff I already have but I don't have the Mass or Dybbuk.

Dybbuk is a fun one I need to listen to again.  It has some of the most edgy "modern" writing I've heard from him, but still remains quite accessible.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #37 on: September 07, 2010, 01:35:55 AM »
Dybbuk is a fun one I need to listen to again.  It has some of the most edgy "modern" writing I've heard from him, but still remains quite accessible.

Thanks John - that makes me feel better about buying the set!
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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #38 on: September 09, 2010, 07:14:50 PM »
that makes me feel better about buying the set!

As I stated, I would have bought the set if it wasn't so expensive, but the DG set was a great price. The DG set also features a rare composition that I haven't seen on any other recording called Halil which was written for solo flute, strings, and percussion. It's a very nice work.
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Offline Guido

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #39 on: September 10, 2010, 04:09:35 AM »
This combination of the high and low art is an interesting phenomenon - probably got from Mahler and Ives, though in these cases, the lows are lower and the highs are higher! I've always really liked Bernstein in theory (mostly for a few works), but actually much of his output is rightly neglected - composer of the week this week has made for some fairly depressing listenng.
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