Author Topic: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990  (Read 54216 times)

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #300 on: January 16, 2020, 07:36:04 AM »
Yes, I listened as soon as I saw it on Spotify, which was a while back.  But I heard it again recently and thought it was very good.  Of course I am a fan of both Zimerman and Bernstein, so it was an easy sell  ;) .

It’s an outstanding performance for sure. Zimerman does look like he’s having fun:

<a href="https://www.youtube.com/v/yjyOL9AiDR0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">https://www.youtube.com/v/yjyOL9AiDR0</a>
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #301 on: January 16, 2020, 11:29:26 AM »
Jeffrey, you should definitely listen to the non-symphonic works of Bernstein. Give Chichester Psalms another chance. Songfest is also worth your time.
Will do my friend. Thanks.
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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #302 on: January 16, 2020, 07:22:57 PM »
Will do my friend. Thanks.

Some other works worth checking out are Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, Halil, the Clarinet Sonata, all of the Anniversary works for solo piano, Divertimento, Dybbuk, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Trouble in Tahiti, and Missa Brevis.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #303 on: January 17, 2020, 04:49:25 AM »
Some other works worth checking out are Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, Halil, the Clarinet Sonata, all of the Anniversary works for solo piano, Divertimento, Dybbuk, On the Town, Wonderful Town, Trouble in Tahiti, and Missa Brevis.

One of the rarities/extras included in the Alsop survey was the orchestrations of the Anniversaries - quite quirky but I enjoyed them in orchestral garb.....


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #304 on: January 17, 2020, 06:56:26 AM »
One of the rarities/extras included in the Alsop survey was the orchestrations of the Anniversaries - quite quirky but I enjoyed them in orchestral garb.....



I haven’t heard them yet (I haven’t got around to Alsop’s Bernstein box yet), but I bet they do sound pretty neat.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #305 on: January 17, 2020, 08:42:45 AM »
Prompted by this thread I've been revisiting Mass.  I'm not sure any other piece of Bernstein gets such a bad press being by turns deemed crass or shallow (or faux-profound!), musically thin and a mess etc etc.  But I have always really enjoyed it.  Sometimes that pleasure has waxed or waned and having not listened to it in ages I returned to it today.  I listened quite carefully to the version on Chandos;



and it is really very good.  I prefer it to Alsop because I can't stand her celebrant and also - as recorded - the Baltimore SO just lacks a little bit of bite.  The Chandos SACD really helps with the many spatial effects of the work.  Just a couple of times the non-American performers get their pronunciation a bit odd... Of course with so many sections and soloists it will always be a bit of nip and tuck preferring this soloist here or that one from a different performance.  The Nezet-Seguin version on DG is a technical disaster - the engineers have made such a mess of the actual sound to render it all but a waste of time.

As to the music itself; the further we move away from the 1970's the less I think it matters that Bernstein was pastisching popular musical styles.  The writing itself is very sophisticated and I love the sharp juxtaposition of the complex and the banal - for me it makes an interesting musical/aesthetic contrast.  Yes bits of the text do have a distinct "squirm-value" but that could be said of most libretti for any work.  Anyway, certainly a major Bernstein score and one that might survive the years better than others - probably to the surprise and annoyance of its detractors!

Offline San Antone

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #306 on: January 17, 2020, 09:30:00 AM »
Prompted by this thread I've been revisiting Mass.  I'm not sure any other piece of Bernstein gets such a bad press being by turns deemed crass or shallow (or faux-profound!), musically thin and a mess etc etc.  But I have always really enjoyed it.  Sometimes that pleasure has waxed or waned and having not listened to it in ages I returned to it today.  I listened quite carefully to the version on Chandos;



and it is really very good.  I prefer it to Alsop because I can't stand her celebrant and also - as recorded - the Baltimore SO just lacks a little bit of bite.  The Chandos SACD really helps with the many spatial effects of the work.  Just a couple of times the non-American performers get their pronunciation a bit odd... Of course with so many sections and soloists it will always be a bit of nip and tuck preferring this soloist here or that one from a different performance.  The Nezet-Seguin version on DG is a technical disaster - the engineers have made such a mess of the actual sound to render it all but a waste of time.

As to the music itself; the further we move away from the 1970's the less I think it matters that Bernstein was pastisching popular musical styles.  The writing itself is very sophisticated and I love the sharp juxtaposition of the complex and the banal - for me it makes an interesting musical/aesthetic contrast.  Yes bits of the text do have a distinct "squirm-value" but that could be said of most libretti for any work.  Anyway, certainly a major Bernstein score and one that might survive the years better than others - probably to the surprise and annoyance of its detractors!

Nice post.  Contrary to you, I really like Jublilant Sykes and consider Marin Alsop's recording the best modern recording I've heard (I still like the original).  I remember listening to the Chandos recording when it first came out and liking it a lot, too.  I should listen to it again. 

I have been a champion of Mass since it was first recorded, I remember buying the LP box and really thinking it was a great work - and haven't changed my opinion all these years later. 

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #307 on: January 17, 2020, 12:39:40 PM »
I have been a champion of Mass since it was first recorded, I remember buying the LP box and really thinking it was a great work - and haven't changed my opinion all these years later.

My feeling exactly about the original release.  Not sure anyone has ever done the Celebrant better than Alan Titus.  I listened to those LP's so often I kind of hardwired for his performance!

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #308 on: January 17, 2020, 07:48:35 PM »
Prompted by this thread I've been revisiting Mass.  I'm not sure any other piece of Bernstein gets such a bad press being by turns deemed crass or shallow (or faux-profound!), musically thin and a mess etc etc.  But I have always really enjoyed it.  Sometimes that pleasure has waxed or waned and having not listened to it in ages I returned to it today.  I listened quite carefully to the version on Chandos;



and it is really very good.  I prefer it to Alsop because I can't stand her celebrant and also - as recorded - the Baltimore SO just lacks a little bit of bite.  The Chandos SACD really helps with the many spatial effects of the work.  Just a couple of times the non-American performers get their pronunciation a bit odd... Of course with so many sections and soloists it will always be a bit of nip and tuck preferring this soloist here or that one from a different performance.  The Nezet-Seguin version on DG is a technical disaster - the engineers have made such a mess of the actual sound to render it all but a waste of time.

As to the music itself; the further we move away from the 1970's the less I think it matters that Bernstein was pastisching popular musical styles.  The writing itself is very sophisticated and I love the sharp juxtaposition of the complex and the banal - for me it makes an interesting musical/aesthetic contrast.  Yes bits of the text do have a distinct "squirm-value" but that could be said of most libretti for any work.  Anyway, certainly a major Bernstein score and one that might survive the years better than others - probably to the surprise and annoyance of its detractors!

I’ve slowly been warming up to the Mass and, on paper, it looks like a chaotic, jumbled incoherent musical marsh, but it actually holds together rather well. One of the positives of it is I do believe that Bernstein wrote his heart into the music and he envisioned a kind of universal music where there are no boundaries. I’m planning on revisiting this work over the weekend (hopefully). That Kristjan Järvi recording looks good. I might have to get it. I can’t comment on the Alsop recording as I’ve only heard it once but don’t remember much about it. San Antone is usually right in line with my own tastes with his appraisal of Bernstein performances, so chances are I’ll enjoy Alsop’s performance very much.
“When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.” - Dmitri Shostakovich

Offline San Antone

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #309 on: January 18, 2020, 04:45:33 AM »
The Absolute Ensemble is a first rate group.  I originally heard them on a recording of a live performance of orchestrated Joe Zawinal music.  I thought it was pretty impressive to have transcribed his keyboard parts exactly and played them perfectly and with a lot of swing.  Kristjan Järvi founded and leads the group.

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #310 on: January 21, 2020, 04:39:47 PM »
Listening to Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein conducting) right now. I’m really enjoying this! Didn’t this opera get incorporated into A Quiet Place? I haven’t listened to A Quiet Place (yet).
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #311 on: January 21, 2020, 05:39:16 PM »
Listening to Trouble in Tahiti (Bernstein conducting) right now. I’m really enjoying this! Didn’t this opera get incorporated into A Quiet Place? I haven’t listened to A Quiet Place (yet).

Funny. I listened to Trouble this afternoon and now I am listening to A Quiet Place, which was originally a sequel, but went through some revisions:

In its original form, A Quiet Place was in one act. Bernstein spoke of it as having a Mahlerian four-section structure. The premiere, conducted in Houston by John DeMain on June 17, 1983, was a double bill: Trouble in Tahiti, intermission, A Quiet Place.

In its three-act form, Act II largely consisted of Trouble in Tahiti in flashback. This form appeared in 1984, with John Mauceri conducting in Milan and Washington. It was refined in 1986 for Vienna, where a recording was made and the composer himself conducted.


This recording by Kent Nagano is pretty good.  I haven't heard the Bernstein recording.

« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 06:22:39 PM by San Antone »

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #312 on: January 21, 2020, 05:47:59 PM »
Funny. I listened to Trouble this afternoon and now I am listening to A Quiet Place, which was originally a sequel, but went through some revisions:

In its original form, A Quiet Place was in one act. Bernstein spoke of it as having a Mahlerian four-section structure. The premiere, conducted in Houston by John DeMain on June 17, 1983, was a double bill: Trouble in Tahiti, intermission, A Quiet Place.

In its three-act form, Act II largely consisted of Trouble in Tahiti in flashback. This form appeared in 1984, with John Mauceri conducting in Milan and Washington. It was refined in 1986 for Vienna, where a recording was made and the composer himself conducted.


This recording by Kent Nagano is pretty good.  I haven't herd the Bernstein recording.



Interesting, San Antone. I think I might pick up that Nagano recording. I’m a bit leery of the Bernstein recording of this work (I’m not sure why exactly), although ‘pretty good’ isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. ;)
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Offline San Antone

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #313 on: January 21, 2020, 06:21:58 PM »
Interesting, San Antone. I think I might pick up that Nagano recording. I’m a bit leery of the Bernstein recording of this work (I’m not sure why exactly), although ‘pretty good’ isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. ;)

The only reason I said that is because it is the only version I've heard, so far, and only the one time.  No complaints - so maybe "pretty good" was me hedging my opinion until I've heard Bernstein's.

 8)

Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #314 on: January 21, 2020, 07:02:36 PM »
The only reason I said that is because it is the only version I've heard, so far, and only the one time.  No complaints - so maybe "pretty good" was me hedging my opinion until I've heard Bernstein's.

 8)

Alright, San Antone. Will be curious what you think of the Bernstein-led performance (whenever you hear it).
« Last Edit: January 21, 2020, 07:06:05 PM by Mirror Image »
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #315 on: January 22, 2020, 03:56:51 AM »
Prompted by the discussion here I've been listening to a few versions of "Age of Anxiety" (I don't know the new Zimmerman recording).  Not sure why but its still a work I like more in parts than totality.  The versions I've listened to are;



Litton is very good.  He strikes me as one of those rare conductors who is genuinely comfortable across very differing genres.  Previn was another and of course Bernstein himself.....



and a less-well known version but actually rather good....



(Jard van Nes is excellent in Jeremiah).  I don't like the cinematic ending - Mahler out of On the Waterfront.  Curiously - perhaps because I listened to this recently as well - some of the melodic shapes in this symphony pre-echo those in Mass.  But that's probably just - as with any composer - Bernstein having a penchant for certain kinds of melodies.....


Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #316 on: January 22, 2020, 06:50:37 AM »
Prompted by the discussion here I've been listening to a few versions of "Age of Anxiety" (I don't know the new Zimmerman recording).  Not sure why but its still a work I like more in parts than totality.  The versions I've listened to are;



Litton is very good.  He strikes me as one of those rare conductors who is genuinely comfortable across very differing genres.  Previn was another and of course Bernstein himself.....



and a less-well known version but actually rather good....



(Jard van Nes is excellent in Jeremiah).  I don't like the cinematic ending - Mahler out of On the Waterfront.  Curiously - perhaps because I listened to this recently as well - some of the melodic shapes in this symphony pre-echo those in Mass.  But that's probably just - as with any composer - Bernstein having a penchant for certain kinds of melodies.....

Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety is a work that took me some time to get a grip on, but two recent performances I’ve heard (Rana/Pappano on Warner and Zimerman/Rattle on DG) have turned my previous ambivalence into enthusiastic praising. The Zimerman/Bernstein performance, especially, is stunning. You must check it out.
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #317 on: January 22, 2020, 08:14:14 AM »
Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety is a work that took me some time to get a grip on, but two recent performances I’ve heard (Rana/Pappano on Warner and Zimerman/Rattle on DG) have turned my previous ambivalence into enthusiastic praising. The Zimerman/Bernstein performance, especially, is stunning. You must check it out.
Very much my experience as well John.

I can't find any other evidence of the BIS release of symphonies 1 and 2 featured on the 'New Releases' thread.
Anyone got any more information on release date or anything else about it?
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline Mirror Image

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #318 on: January 22, 2020, 09:04:45 AM »
Very much my experience as well John.

I can't find any other evidence of the BIS release of symphonies 1 and 2 featured on the 'New Releases' thread.
Anyone got any more information on release date or anything else about it?

I couldn’t find any information on the upcoming Lindberg recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 on BIS either. But, at this juncture, I’m not really in the market for more performances of these works.
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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
« Reply #319 on: January 22, 2020, 10:39:20 AM »
Bernstein’s The Age of Anxiety is a work that took me some time to get a grip on, but two recent performances I’ve heard (Rana/Pappano on Warner and Zimerman/Rattle on DG) have turned my previous ambivalence into enthusiastic praising. The Zimerman/Bernstein performance, especially, is stunning. You must check it out.

thankyou - I will!