GMG Classical Music Forum

The Music Room => Composer Discussion => Topic started by: vandermolen on May 13, 2009, 02:20:23 AM

Title: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 13, 2009, 02:20:23 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: secondwind on May 13, 2009, 03:16:00 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 13, 2009, 05:59:40 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Dundonnell on May 13, 2009, 07:32:43 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 13, 2009, 08:12:15 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: karlhenning on May 13, 2009, 08:37:07 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).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 13, 2009, 09:23:32 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: karlhenning on May 13, 2009, 09:34:50 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 13, 2009, 10:06:00 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 13, 2009, 02:19:17 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 13, 2009, 02:22:45 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: secondwind on May 13, 2009, 05:04:29 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 13, 2009, 11:28:13 PM
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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jowcol on May 14, 2009, 08:28:19 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...
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on May 14, 2009, 11:39:02 AM
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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: hornteacher on May 14, 2009, 04:26:04 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.......).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 03, 2010, 11:00:24 AM
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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 03, 2010, 12:35:51 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 03, 2010, 12:37:32 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. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 03, 2010, 12:41:00 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 03, 2010, 01:15:47 PM
Let us know what you think. I prefer the Sony version.

Will do, vandermolen.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Sid 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...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ghkMPOkgL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: mc ukrneal 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 06, 2010, 02:19:49 AM
Just ordered this 10 CDs Bernstein conducts Bernstein - looks like a great set.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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...

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51ghkMPOkgL._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

"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?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Sid 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...
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Sid 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...
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jowcol 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 10, 2010, 06:03:50 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.

I think Bernstein wrote some good music, but not all of it is worthy to listen to again. I don't think I'll be listening to West Side Story or Candide, but I will be listening to Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" or Chichester Psalms again, because these are great compositions. I think people are starting to come around to his more serious music more these days thanks not only to his own recordings, but conductors like Marrin Alsop.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 10, 2010, 06:42:20 AM
'Facsimile' is a recent discovery that I have greatly enjoyed.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brewski on September 10, 2010, 06:55:42 AM

I think Bernstein wrote some good music, but not all of it is worthy to listen to again. I don't think I'll be listening to West Side Story or Candide...

 :'(  Aw...no love for either of those?  I like many of his "serious" compositions a great deal, but I also think these two are also among his very best works.  The Candide he conducted and recorded just before he died is marvelous: Jerry Hadley and June Anderson are in excellent voice, and Adolph Green and Christa Ludwig are hilarious as Pangloss and the Old Lady, respectively.

'Facsimile' is a recent discovery that I have greatly enjoyed.

Facsimile is one of my favorites, too. 

--Bruce
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on September 10, 2010, 07:03:05 AM
Yes I'd agree - Candide and Westside Story ae probably his finest achievements. I'm also a great fan of the very early clarinet sonata, the three meditations for cello and orchestra, some of the songs, and to a lesser extent the symphonies.

The symphonies are well made and genuine enough in impulse, but I think there's also an artificiality and almost kitchy self awareness - to be composing such effusively romantic music this late into the century with so many of the gestures of the 19th century, eclectic and modern though they also are, is a bit risky, and Bernstein's balancing of high and low isn't always as insightful as these other guys we mentioned. I think the first is the best and then they tail off in quality.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: karlhenning on September 10, 2010, 07:10:50 AM
Yes I'd agree - Candide and Westside Story ae probably his finest achievements. I'm also a great fan of the very early clarinet sonata, the three meditations for cello and orchestra, some of the songs, and to a lesser extent the symphonies.

The symphonies are well made and genuine enough in impulse, but I think there's also an artificiality and almost kitchy self awareness - to be composing such effusively romantic music this late into the century with so many of the gestures of the 19th century, eclectic and modern though they also are, is a bit risky, and Bernstein's balancing of high and low isn't always as insightful as these other guys we mentioned. I think the first is the best and then they tail off in quality.

I've never really warmed to Candide (apart from the Overture, which was an immediate favorite on our playing it in band transcription).  Can certainly agree with the thought that he never surpassed West Side Story.
 
As to the symphonies, I am sure it is tied to his personality . . . but in this (and I think your overall analysis apt, Guido) he was probably a little too laboredly following what he took to be Mahler's example.  Falling short of Mahler's genius, falling short of interior necessity vs. the admiration of an external example? I'm not sure, cannot put my finger on it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brewski on September 10, 2010, 07:17:11 AM
Somehow with the symphonies (and I hasten to add that I haven't heard all of them "many" times), I want to like them more than I actually do like them.  They are really well crafted, making excellent use of the orchestra, but they don't always engage me emotionally as fully as I'd like.  Of course, further hearings could change that.

I forgot that I also heard Halil and his Concerto for Orchestra, "Jubilee Games" a couple of years ago, with Dudamel and the Israel Philharmonic.  Liked them both, but need to hear them again.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on September 10, 2010, 07:52:44 AM
I agree with what both of you have said here.

Bernstein was concerned his entire life with producing a true, unquestionable masterpiece and it haunted him that he never quite made it happen (Westside Story was too lowbrow I guess...? It's wht he excelled at) Hence the sabaticals from conducting which never produced the desired work, the attempt in the Mass to encompass everything wich also failed to really produce anything of consistent and sustained worth. People who claim it's his magnum opus and finest work are falling into the same trap that people fall into when pronouncing Strauss' FrOSch his finest work. The grand intentions and particulars of vastness are mistaken for the actual effect of the music. The enormous gesture and abundant workmanlyness produces in both cases a stillborn behemoth which only occasionally shows flickers of life.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Maciek on September 10, 2010, 02:47:35 PM
a stillborn behemoth which only occasionally shows flickers of life.

Aw, isn't that a bit too harsh?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 10, 2010, 06:04:28 PM
Aw, isn't that a bit too harsh?

Yes, Guido's comments were a bit harsh, but he/she has a right to their opinion. I personally like a lot of Bernstein's music regardless what other people say about it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: The new erato on September 10, 2010, 10:16:07 PM
A bit too harsh perhaps, but it isn't a succesfuil work IMO. After buying the Naxos recording I was initially fascinated by its eclectic mix of styles and plain daring, but after seeing it live it dawned upon me that it was really rather sprawling, with substantial weak parts and that it simply didn't work very well dramatically either. +1 for daring, another +1 for some really beautiful parts, but mainly minuses after that.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 11, 2010, 12:45:52 AM
I find that the Jeremiah Symphony does grab me emotionally, but am inclined to agree that the later two symphonies are not as good - although I don't know 'The Age of Anxiety' very well. Actually the Jeremiah reminds me a bit of Malcolm Williamson's First Symphony 'Elevamini' which is also the best of his symphonic output that I have heard - a fine work if you don't know it and amazingly there are two separate recordings Lyrita (Groves) and Chandos (Gamba).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jowcol on September 11, 2010, 01:26:07 AM
I find that the Jeremiah Symphony does grab me emotionally, but am inclined to agree that the later two symphonies are not as good - although I don't know 'The Age of Anxiety' very well. Actually the Jeremiah reminds me a bit of Malcolm Williamson's First Symphony 'Elevamini' which is also the best of his symphonic output that I have heard - a fine work if you don't know it and amazingly there are two separate recordings Lyrita (Groves) and Chandos (Gamba).

I'm a big fan of "Age of Anxiety"-- at least the second half.  It takes a while to get started, and I must confess I often start listening at the middle.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 11, 2010, 11:03:36 AM
I find that the Jeremiah Symphony does grab me emotionally, but am inclined to agree that the later two symphonies are not as good - although I don't know 'The Age of Anxiety' very well. Actually the Jeremiah reminds me a bit of Malcolm Williamson's First Symphony 'Elevamini' which is also the best of his symphonic output that I have heard - a fine work if you don't know it and amazingly there are two separate recordings Lyrita (Groves) and Chandos (Gamba).

I think The Age of Anxiety is a great work, especially towards the end as jowcol points out. I think you should definitely spend a little more time with it as it rewards the listener I think.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 11, 2010, 03:15:37 PM
Right then - I shall be listening to 'The Age of Anxiety'  :D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 11, 2010, 03:19:28 PM
'Facsimile' is a recent discovery that I have greatly enjoyed.

Facsimile is a great work. I need to re-listen to it. I remember it being quite good indeed.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 11, 2010, 11:34:17 PM

Facsimile is a great work. I need to re-listen to it. I remember it being quite good indeed.

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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 12, 2010, 12:39:23 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 (http://www.duttonvocalion.co.uk/proddetail.asp?prod=CDBP9758)

I'm usually not one for mono recordings, which is why I don't own that many historical performances other than Boult's RVW set on Decca. How is the audio on this recording?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on September 12, 2010, 01:36:51 AM
My favourite bit of Age of Anxiey is the first entry ofthe piano. Love that part.

Glad my comments got a rise! It's not so bad (it is), but it's a far cry from masterpiece that all the critics were proclaiming it to be after the new Naxos recording...

The "flickers of life" are mainly the ending, the "meditations" and the "Simple Song".
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 12, 2010, 11:04:31 AM
My favourite bit of Age of Anxiey is the first entry ofthe piano. Love that part.

Glad my comments got a rise! It's not so bad (it is), but it's a far cry from masterpiece that all the critics were proclaiming it to be after the new Naxos recording...

The "flickers of life" are mainly the ending, the "meditations" and the "Simple Song".

All a matter of your own opinion.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 12, 2010, 01:14:53 PM

I'm usually not one for mono recordings, which is why I don't own that many historical performances other than Boult's RVW set on Decca. How is the audio on this recording?

Dutton have done a very good job with the transfer, but maybe not for you if you do not like historical recordings - performances are very good though.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on September 14, 2010, 01:05:33 PM
I was delighted to receive my Bernstein 'Original Jacket Collection' box set today. It is a great nostalgia trip for those who collected in the days of LP as all the CDs are contained in miniature versions of the original LP sleeve. I show the Jeremiah sleeve below - my favourite from the set. Of course they've tampered with the lettering on the front as the original coupling was not 'The Age of Anxiety' but Roy Harris' Symphony No 3 (also the best performance of this work). I played the Jeremiah Symphony today - by far the best performance of this work ever committed to disc (and I have them all). Also in this pressing there is a very LP like warmth and depth to the transfer and Jennie Tourel is the outstanding mezzo-soprano in this work. There is a nice booklet with detailed notes and lots of photos - I look forward to exploring the rest of the set.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on September 14, 2010, 03:08:46 PM

All a matter of your own opinion.

Well what else, but I trust myself to sense musical quality - this comes not just from experience, but also just from listening intently and being acutely aware of the music's means and effect.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 14, 2010, 05:13:20 PM
Well what else, but I trust myself to sense musical quality - this comes not just from experience, but also just from listening intently and being acutely aware of the music's means and effect.

And I don't sense musical quality and my opinion doesn't come from experience? I've been a musician for 20 years. The bottomline is we both value different things in music. Perhaps I'm more open to Bernstein than you are? I like many of Bernstein's works, but not everything he composed.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Guido on September 14, 2010, 11:45:38 PM
You were telling me that my opinions were opinions, which I already knew, but I was telling you why that did not lessen their value. That's all!  :)

Quote
I like many of Bernstein's works, but not everything he composed.

I feel exactly the same. I have endeavored to hear everything in his output, because I really love the pieces that I do like, so I think I am as open as I can be to his music...
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: mc ukrneal on September 14, 2010, 11:52:24 PM
I was delighted to receive my Bernstein 'Original Jacket Collection' box set today. It is a great nostalgia trip for those who collected in the days of LP as all the CDs are contained in miniature versions of the original LP sleeve. I show the Jeremiah sleeve below - my favourite from the set. Of course they've tampered with the lettering on the front as the original coupling was not 'The Age of Anxiety' but Roy Harris' Symphony No 3 (also the best performance of this work).

Then this is not really original, is it? The concept and the result seem a bit forced. Are they all like this or are most of them truly original (without additions)?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Scarpia on December 18, 2010, 10:26:43 AM
Got a pair of free tickets and attended a performance of Bernstein's Candide at the Harman Theater in Washington D.C.  I don't know how this work would be categorized, somewhere between a Broadway show and an operetta.  There was some good music along the way, but way, way too long.  Overall I'd put it somewhere between boring and insufferable. 
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on December 19, 2010, 06:15:43 AM
Then this is not really original, is it? The concept and the result seem a bit forced. Are they all like this or are most of them truly original (without additions)?

Not entirely sure as I don't have many of the LPs, but I guess that they have combined two LPs on to one CD - as you can get more on. Personally I like the original sleeve designs even though there may be more on the CD than on the original LP.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: just Jeff on December 21, 2010, 05:56:15 PM
Not entirely sure as I don't have many of the LPs, but I guess that they have combined two LPs on to one CD - as you can get more on. Personally I like the original sleeve designs even though there may be more on the CD than on the original LP.

Is Roy Harris' Symphony No 3 on the new combined disc, I don't notice it on the cover you've shown?  But I see you said it was on the original LP issue of this title.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Daverz on December 21, 2010, 06:30:29 PM
Got a pair of free tickets and attended a performance of Bernstein's Candide at the Harman Theater in Washington D.C.  I don't know how this work would be categorized, somewhere between a Broadway show and an operetta.  There was some good music along the way, but way, way too long.  Overall I'd put it somewhere between boring and insufferable.

That's too bad.  I'm only familiar with the original Broadway cast CD (not Bernstein's DG set), which is one of my favorite CDs of anything, but that's only about 50 minutes of music.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/612Z8522C3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Scarpia on December 21, 2010, 07:15:46 PM
That's too bad.  I'm only familiar with the original Broadway cast CD (not Bernstein's DG set), which is one of my favorite CDs of anything, but that's only about 50 minutes of music.

(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/612Z8522C3L._SL500_AA300_.jpg)

There probably was 50 good minutes in it, out of three hours.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on December 24, 2010, 03:25:46 AM
Is Roy Harris' Symphony No 3 on the new combined disc, I don't notice it on the cover you've shown?  But I see you said it was on the original LP issue of this title.

Unfortunately not as it's an all Bernstein box - the LP cover picture is the same but the Age of Anxiety has replaced the Roy Harris - I'd rather have the Harris, but that is available on an excellent Sony CD with David Diamond's 4th Symphony and Randall Thompson's 2nd - all great works.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brian on January 14, 2011, 02:34:36 PM
I've just listened to Bernstein's clarinet sonata for the first time. It was written while he was still studying under Koussevitsky at Tanglewood in 1941-42, and I couldn't help hearing in the first movement a seemingly direct quotation of one of the works Koussevitsky championed most: Sibelius' Seventh. Does anyone with knowledge of the score or of Bernstein's career know anything about this? In particular, is there any evidence it's an intentional allusion, or is it just a coincidental similarity?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Elnimio on January 14, 2011, 05:15:33 PM
Prelude Fugue and Riffs = the best
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2011, 07:55:40 AM
Good to see Bernstein's music get some love. So often he's overlooked as a composer of serious music. There's much more to him than West Side Story.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Musician on April 24, 2011, 01:00:55 PM
I love him as a composer, conductor and musician, although his conducting mannerisms are a little flamboyant but that is what makes him a character.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 24, 2011, 01:52:59 PM
I love him as a composer, conductor and musician, although his conducting mannerisms are a little flamboyant but that is what makes him a character.

Actually, there is already a Bernstein thread started if you want to check it out: http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12455.msg307396.html#msg307396 (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,12455.msg307396.html#msg307396)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: karlhenning on April 25, 2011, 04:05:52 AM
Thread merge ahead (with Bernstein spelled correctly, I suspect).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 24, 2011, 01:57:05 PM
Listened to On The Waterfront just awhile ago (w/ Mata/Dallas Symphony on Dorian) and I had forgotten just how awesome this piece work was. Man, I'm loving this.

I'm no stranger to Bernstein's music, of course, but it's quite refreshing to go back and hear something you haven't heard in awhile and be overwhelmed by its exuberance and power.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: klingsor on May 25, 2011, 03:07:32 AM
Listened to On The Waterfront just awhile ago (w/ Mata/Dallas Symphony on Dorian) and I had forgotten just how awesome this piece work was. Man, I'm loving this.

I'm no stranger to Bernstein's music, of course, but it's quite refreshing to go back and hear something you haven't heard in awhile and be overwhelmed by its exuberance and power.

Agree that On the Waterfront is an awesome work. It's so disappointing to think he never wrote any more film music. I'm a longtime fan of Bernstein the conductor and composer. His first recording of the Copland Sym 3 is a masterful achievement, imho.
Pretty much agree with some of you about his own symphonies: Jeremiah is the best, with Age of Anxiety a close second (for me). Prelude, Fugue & Riffs is great, also the serenade and clarinet sonata. His piano Anniversaries are quite nice as well. I never heard the entire Mass, only the interludes which are excellent. To me, West Side Story is the great masterpiece of Bernstein. Candide has inspiration on nearly the same level, but as a dramatic work it falters. That famous highlights LP on Sony is a good way to go. However, the complete recording issued on New World is very good:


The complete recording he made for DG is to be avoided, although it's worth hearing once for the odd tempo (and singer!) choices.  :o
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jlaurson on June 01, 2011, 03:58:44 AM

(http://www.weta.org/fmblog/wp-content/themes/fmblog/images/masthead/masthead_main.png)
Bernstein via Angers: John Axelrod in Conversation*

(http://www.weta.org/fmblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/johnAxelrod.png)
http://www.weta.org/fmblog/?p=3178 (http://www.weta.org/fmblog/?p=3178)


*"Kaddish Symphony: Rubbish or Genius?"
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 09, 2012, 06:40:26 AM
Bernstein Symphony #2 "The Age of Anxiety"

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/jan11/bernsteinportrait.jpg)

What's your opinion of the symphonies, on the whole, Sarge?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Sergeant Rock on April 09, 2012, 06:55:31 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 09, 2012, 12:50:11 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. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 09, 2012, 06:11:08 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).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jlaurson on April 10, 2012, 02:29:59 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 (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 (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0012XDE3Y/weta909-20).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 10, 2012, 10:59:45 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 10, 2012, 11:18:34 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.

Thank you for those recommendations, Jeffrey! :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 10, 2012, 12:22:20 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 10, 2012, 09:26:12 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 11, 2012, 01:22:53 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: madaboutmahler on April 11, 2012, 02:23:13 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. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 05:10:44 AM
Very much agree with this. 'Facsimile' is a recent pleasurable discovery for me.

Yeah, Facsimile is a great work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 11, 2012, 06:43:31 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.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 11, 2012, 06:50:44 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 07:05:10 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

http://www.youtube.com/v/Z2I3NhrQjKo

Part 2

http://www.youtube.com/v/qD-CnEGkaqM
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 07:06:49 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 11, 2012, 07:54:55 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
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 08:50:43 AM
Fair enough - I'll try to find a version on Cylinder or 78rpm for you John.  ;D

 :P
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 11, 2012, 09:09:56 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Lisztianwagner on April 11, 2012, 10:09:35 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 04:03:17 PM
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.

I noticed that Chichester Psalms and Serenade weren't on your list, Ilaria. What do you think about these? Also have you heard Facsimile, Fancy Free, or Dybbuk yet?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 11, 2012, 07:21:07 PM
Right now, I'm enthralled with Serenade. This work is one of the few American 20th Century concerti that I can stand firmly behind. It's actually quite masterful.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 11, 2012, 11:58:19 PM


It's known as a time-warp Karl

 ;D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Lisztianwagner on April 12, 2012, 01:46:07 AM
I noticed that Chichester Psalms and Serenade weren't on your list, Ilaria. What do you think about these? Also have you heard Facsimile, Fancy Free, or Dybbuk yet?

Well, I'm afraid I haven't listened to them yet; the pieces I mentioned are the only I've heard so far. As I said before, I tend to listen to Bernstein as a conductor more than as a composer.
Anyway, I will certainly take a listen to those works, I would like to have a clearer idea of Bernstein's style.
Title: Re: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 02:14:25 AM
It's known as a time-warp Karl

 ;D

: )
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 02:57:12 AM
The 7-CD Bernstein Conducts Bernstein reissue box will be an interesting experience for me. I am curious to check out the symphonies (of them all, I think I've only heard the Age of Anxiety, nor do I remember hearing it in its entirety).
 
I disclose frankly that I don't know just how I shall take the Mass. I well remember Brian's enthusiasm for the new Alsop recording on Naxos.  Obviously I have no opinion (only complete sonic ignorance) on any question of the relative merits of the Alsop and the composer's own.  At this price point, though, I can hardly complain even if, on actually listening to the whole, I find myself in less than sympathy with it.  And, hey: maybe I will like it . . . .
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leon on April 12, 2012, 07:00:37 AM
The 7-CD Bernstein Conducts Bernstein reissue box will be an interesting experience for me. I am curious to check out the symphonies (of them all, I think I've only heard the Age of Anxiety, nor do I remember hearing it in its entirety).
 
I disclose frankly that I don't know just how I shall take the Mass. I well remember Brian's enthusiasm for the new Alsop recording on Naxos.  Obviously I have no opinion (only complete sonic ignorance) on any question of the relative merits of the Alsop and the composer's own.  At this price point, though, I can hardly complain even if, on actually listening to the whole, I find myself in less than sympathy with it.  And, hey: maybe I will like it . . . .

Might you consider subscribing to Spotify? - That 7-CD box is there.  I no longer buy these boxes but still enjoy the music.

EDIT: actually it's the DG 7-CD box ; not the Sony/EMI, which appears to be the better set.

2nd EDIT: but in looking around some more, most (if not all) that is in the Sony box (NY Phil.) is there in other manifestations.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 07:22:36 AM
The 7-CD Bernstein Conducts Bernstein reissue box will be an interesting experience for me. I am curious to check out the symphonies (of them all, I think I've only heard the Age of Anxiety, nor do I remember hearing it in its entirety).
 
I disclose frankly that I don't know just how I shall take the Mass. I well remember Brian's enthusiasm for the new Alsop recording on Naxos.  Obviously I have no opinion (only complete sonic ignorance) on any question of the relative merits of the Alsop and the composer's own.  At this price point, though, I can hardly complain even if, on actually listening to the whole, I find myself in less than sympathy with it.  And, hey: maybe I will like it . . . .

There's a 10 CD Bernstein Conducts Bernstein: The Original Jacket Collection on Sony as well. The set you're looking at though, Karl is a lot more cost-friendly that's for sure. The Age of Anxiety is such a cool piece. I think you'll enjoy it. Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" is really good too. Serenade has become a new little obsession for me. Have you heard this work, Karl?

The Mass is an interesting piece of music. I've only heard it twice, but of the two versions I own (Bernstein, Alsop), I prefer Bernstein's.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 07:25:11 AM
No, never heard the Serenade.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 07:38:17 AM
No, never heard the Serenade.

 :o You need to remedy this ASAP, Karl!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leon on April 12, 2012, 08:11:07 AM
Although the Sony box has the advantage of being earlier recordings with the NY Phil, the DG box does has some qualities worth speaking of:

-- Along with the major works, there are some later works not yet written when the recordings in NY were made, Jubilee Games, 8 Divertimenti and possibly Dybuk;
-- Also, I'm listening to Serenade now, and am enjoying the later recording with Gidon Kremer and the Israel Phil.

I am glad this thread emerged since I had quite forgotten just how much I like Bernstein, the Composer!

 :D

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 08:28:11 AM
Groovy, Arnold!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 08:30:27 AM
Although the Sony box has the advantage of being earlier recordings with the NY Phil, the DG box does has some qualities worth speaking of:

-- Along with the major works, there are some later works not yet written when the recordings in NY were made, Jubilee Games, 8 Divertimenti and possibly Dybuk;
-- Also, I'm listening to Serenade now, and am enjoying the later recording with Gidon Kremer and the Israel Phil.

I am glad this thread emerged since I had quite forgotten just how much I like Bernstein, the Composer!

 :D

Actually, Dybbuk is only in suite form in the DG box and in the Sony it's the complete ballet. I'll have to relisten to the Kremer performance on DG as I remember it being quite good. I really like Francescatti and Hahn right now. Yes, I think, however, you are right about Concerto for Orchestra "Jubliee Games" and Divertimento being world premieres.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 08:31:26 AM
Might you consider subscribing to Spotify? - That 7-CD box is there.  I no longer buy these boxes but still enjoy the music.

I hadn't, but I suppose I might.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 08:32:27 AM
-- Also, I'm listening to Serenade now, and am enjoying the later recording with Gidon Kremer and the Israel Phil.

Does not surprise me: I'm a huge Kremer fan.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 08:34:00 AM
Actually, Dybbuk is only in suite form in the DG box and in the Sony it's the complete ballet.

Good to know. Another Bernstein piece I have known only by name for too long . . . .
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leon on April 12, 2012, 08:38:15 AM
I hadn't, but I suppose I might.

I don't use a smart phone so the mobile option is not of interest to me, so I get by with the $5/month level.  However, I know several folks who don't mind playing twice that amount to be able to listen on the go.  I've set up all kinds of playlists, e.g. this morning I created a Lenny list with over 500 tracks.  My entire library of selected music now numbers around 75,000 tracks, which is about 4500 complete albums or box sets.

You can also listen to the local files on your computer through it, which works well for me at work since it is nowhere as greedy for memory and resources as iTunes.

 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 08:39:38 AM
Good to know. Another Bernstein piece I have known only by name for too long . . . .

Yeah, I have only recently purchased the Bernstein Century recording of Dybbuk but have heard the suite from DG and I own a recording from Naxos of it. It's a cool work. 8) Here's a description of the music (taken from Wikipedia):

In Dybbuk, Bernstein used a Kabbalistic tree to derive some of the melodic motives. By Kabbalistic tradition, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has its own numerical value. The name of the female lead in Dybbuk, Leah, is equal to the numerical value of thirty-six. Bernstein focused his composition on the divisions of thirty-six and eighteen (the numerical value of the Hebrew word chai (חַי), meaning "life"), each multiples of the nine—the number of notes including the repetition of the top note in a symmetrical octatonic scale. The result lent itself well to dodecaphonic composition but baffled critics, causing Oliver Knussen to write in Tempo, "…it is surprising to encounter Bernstein making use of numerical formulas derived from the Kabbalah… and producing his most austerely contemporary-sounding score to date." Jack Gottlieb commented, "The Dybbuk ballet (1974), however, marks a kind of departure for the composer since its concern with numerology results in far more hard-edged dissonant music (sometimes 12-tone) than in any of his other works."
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 08:56:29 AM
For comparison purposes:

Bernstein Conducts Bernstein 7 CD set (Sony):

CD1
Candide Overture
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Symphonic Suite from the Film "On The Waterfront"
Fancy Free Ballet
Prelude, Fuge and Riffs for Solo Clarinet and Jazz Ensemble

CD2
Dybbuk (Complete Ballet)
Serenade after Plato's "Symposium" for Solo violin, strings, Harp and percussion

CD3
Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1
On the Town (Three Dance Episodes)
The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (after W. H. Auden)

CD4
Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 (To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy)
Chichester Psalms for Chorus and Orchestra
I Hate Music! A Cycle of Five Kid Songs for Soprano
La Bonne Cuisine (Four Recipes)

CD5
Trouble in Tahiti - An Opera in Seven Scenes
Facsimile - Choreographic Essay for Orchestra

CD6
Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers I

CD7
Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers II

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bernstein Conducts Bernstein 7 CD set (DG):

CD1
On the Town: Three Dance Episodes
Fancy Free
Facsimile

CD2
Candide Overture
Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story"
On The Waterfront Suite
Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs

CD3
Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah"
Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"

CD4
Chichester Psalms
Symphony No. 3 "Kiddish"

CD5
Divertimento
A Musical Toast
Slava! - A Political Overture
Three Meditations from "Mass"
Halil - Nocturne for Solo Flute, String Orchestra, and Percussion

CD6
Concerto for Orchestra "Jubliee Games"
Dybbuk Suites 1 & 2

CD7
Serenade
Songfest
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 09:01:30 AM
Quote from: Lenny
Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers

Got to hand it to him for Fair Disclosure  ; )
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 09:07:00 AM
Hey Karl watch this!

http://www.youtube.com/v/HTdQpBlzA-M
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 09:08:32 AM
Quote from: Lenny
Allegro molto con brio from Overture to Candide

Really? Not that it's a deal-breakers but . . . not the full overture?

Quote from: Lenny
- A Political Overture

Now there's a rich double meaning!  ; )
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 09:14:18 AM
Really? Not that it's a deal-breakers but . . . not the full overture?

Now there's a rich double meaning!  ; )

Karl, I copied and pasted the information from Sony's website but it is actually the full overture. So not to worry about that. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 09:17:21 AM
Hey Karl watch this!

Lovely!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 09:18:13 AM
Karl, I copied and pasted the information from Sony's website but it is actually the full overture. So not to worry about that. :)

well, 'twasn't much of a worry, anyhow.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 09:19:44 AM
Lovely!

I was telling our mutual friend young Madaboutmahler that I don't understand why the person who uploaded this video didn't upload the whole performance? Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the music. Of course, it sounds even better on CD. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 12, 2012, 09:25:25 AM
I was telling our mutual friend young Madaboutmahler that I don't understand why the person who uploaded this video didn't upload the whole performance? Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed the music. Of course, it sounds even better on CD. :)

When Arnold mentioned this, to find a used copy of that single CD on Amazon marketplace was for me the work of a minute . . . .

In brief, I anticipated;  but of course, it is delightful to see the video and feel vindicated
: )
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leon on April 12, 2012, 09:31:45 AM
For comparison purposes:

Bernstein Conducts Bernstein 7 CD set (Sony):

CD1
Candide Overture
Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
Symphonic Suite from the Film "On The Waterfront"
Fancy Free Ballet
Prelude, Fuge and Riffs for Solo Clarinet and Jazz Ensemble

CD2
Dybbuk (Complete Ballet)
Serenade after Plato's "Symposium" for Solo violin, strings, Harp and percussion

CD3
Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1
On the Town (Three Dance Episodes)
The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra (after W. H. Auden)

CD4
Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 (To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy)
Chichester Psalms for Chorus and Orchestra
I Hate Music! A Cycle of Five Kid Songs for Soprano
La Bonne Cuisine (Four Recipes)

CD5
Trouble in Tahiti - An Opera in Seven Scenes
Facsimile - Choreographic Essay for Orchestra

CD6
Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers I

CD7
Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers II

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bernstein Conducts Bernstein 7 CD set (DG):

CD1
On the Town: Three Dance Episodes
Fancy Free
Facsimile

CD2
Candide Overture
Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story"
On The Waterfront Suite
Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs

CD3
Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah"
Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"

CD4
Chichester Psalms
Symphony No. 3 "Kiddish" "Kaddish" (they are quite different things!]

CD5
Divertimento
A Musical Toast
Slava! - A Political Overture
Three Meditations from "Mass"
Halil - Nocturne for Solo Flute, String Orchestra, and Percussion

CD6
Concerto for Orchestra "Jubliee Games"
Dybbuk Suites 1 & 2

CD7
Serenade
Songfest

They are actually quite complementary, just looking at the selections, which are sufficently different to warrant having both - but they also represent different performances with different ensembles and soloists of those same works from his earlier period to be of even added interest.

Thanks for the side-by-side.

 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 09:33:05 AM
When Arnold mentioned this, to find a used copy of that single CD on Amazon marketplace was for me the work of a minute . . . .

In brief, I anticipated;  but of course, it is delightful to see the video and feel vindicated
: )

:) Well, I hope you enjoy as much as I have, Karl.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 09:35:14 AM
They are actually quite complementary, just looking at the selections, which are sufficently different to warrant having both - but they also represent different performances with different ensembles and soloists of those same works from his earlier period to be of even added interest.

Thanks for the side-by-side.

 :)

You're welcome. I agree that they are both worth obtaining. One box contains something the other doesn't. Plus, they are very different performances. I do need to get out the DG box and do some comparisons.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 12, 2012, 11:40:34 AM
I've really been enjoying Bernstein's Symphony No. 3 "Kaddish" this afternoon. I don't think it's a bad work at all. Eclectic? Perhaps is a better word. Again, I just can't help making comparisons with Tippett here even though both composers worked from obvious different source material and their styles are miles apart but both composers demonstrate that free spirit, heart-on-sleeve, against all odds type of approach to music that I admire so much.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 16, 2012, 08:03:54 AM
Yikes, listening to the Jeremiah Symphony for the very first time.  What great fun!  No surprise, really, from what I know of Lenny's music.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 16, 2012, 08:55:00 AM
Quote from: Lenny
AGE OF ANXIETY

Auden’s fascinating and hair-raising Eclogue had already begun to affect me lyrically when I first read it in the summer of 1947. From that moment, the composition of a symphony based on The Age of Anxiety acquired an almost compulsive quality; and I have been writing it steadily since then, in Taos, in Philidelphia, in Richmond, Mass., in Tel-Aviv, in planes, in hotel-lobbies, and finally (this week preceding the premiere) in Boston. The orchestration was made during a month-long tour with the Pittsburgh Symphony. [Essay on Age of Anxiety, March 1949]

I imagine that the conception of a symphony with piano solo emerges from the extreme personal identification of myself with the poem. In this sense, the pianist provides an almost autobiographical mirror in which he sees himself, analytically in the modern ambiance. The work is therefore no concerto, in the virtuosic sense... The essential line of the poem (and the music) is the record of our difficult and problematic search for faith. [Essay on Age of Anxiety, March 1949]

What happens in the [Age of Anxiety] is anything but optimistic. In the poem everyone is completely drunk and trying desperately to have a good time. This feeling of desperation is there all the time and they are having a good time but the kind of good time which one hour later is horrible.

The piece deals a great deal with alcohol... The whole scene takes place in a bar, and four people find each other in a bar, all lonely, all full of problems – three men and a woman – and it is through alcohol that they begin to search out these semi-conscious, really unconscious, adventures which are going back to their roots – and then that series of variations called the 7 stages, which is a kind of spiritual journey that is taken to try to arrive at a place where relationships can be formed and faith can be established. That takes them as far as the end of Part I of the Symphony and there is a sort of brilliant ending, but it is very equivocal. They find nothing. Then they decide the bar is closing – they are all full of alcohol – they want some more, so the girl invites them to her apartment for a nightcap. On the way to the apartment they sit in the taxicab and they sing this dirge which begins Part II. And the dirge is a lament for the lost father figure. A colossal Dad, as Auden says. Who is God? There is nobody to turn to, either a mortal father figure or God, and as I remember the poem, the girl had a Jewish father so there is a great deal of Mosaic reference in that dirge, and the Lament is for the absence of a Moses, someone who could really guide, tell you what to do, give you the rules of how to live. And he is not there. So, they get to her apartment, they drink, they dance, and they have this crazy scherzo. And separate. And they find that they are lonely as before, and in the Epilogue they really come to terms in a painful way with the real issue, having tried all the other routes, that they failed, and they find, as I say – the answer is in this glass of orange juice. Is God, in the orange juice. [Berlin Press Conference, September 12, 1977]

The end of the Age of Anxiety is very grandiose and I meant that at the time slightly ironically, the way it is in Auden’s poem... But the [irony of the] end of the poem and the crisis of faith is that one finds [faith] in one’s backyard ultimately, after searching and going through these variations of these stages and ages and so on, you find it in your bathtub or under the little apple tree outside your house, not in these great terms of faith with a big ‘F.’ [Berlin Press Conference, September 12, 1977]

I am not sure [that what I tried to do at the end of the Age of Anxiety] is successful...because the protagonist (the pianist), he goes through one ’Alptraum’ after another and then he doesn’t play for a long time and the orchestra builds this grand ending, the Mahlerish ending – half Mahlerish, half Hollywood (by Hollywood I don’t mean the type of music, but I mean that the protagonist I placed in position of someone watching this big climax take place on a screen, a cinema screen). But he is detached, he is not taking part in it... he’s not in it, he’s a bit distanziert from the big ending, which is what Auden meant, and I tried to translate that Auden idea into musical symphonic terms. I don’t know if it succeeds.

I am sort of zweidetuig myself about the ending because I love it. It is beautiful and it does move me and I hope it moves other people. But I still like the dramatic idea of the pianist being distanziert from this [because] the pianist is me, I suppose. [Berlin Press Conference, September 12, 1977]
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on April 16, 2012, 05:13:12 PM
Yikes, listening to the Jeremiah Symphony for the very first time.  What great fun!  No surprise, really, from what I know of Lenny's music.

Yeah, it's a cool piece, Karl. The last movement is especially beautiful.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 17, 2012, 05:16:57 AM
Yeah, it's a cool piece, Karl. The last movement is especially beautiful.

Totally agree  :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 20, 2012, 08:44:03 AM
Arrived this morning: Bernstein's Trouble in Tahiti and Facsimile.

(http://photos.imageevent.com/sgtrock/apr12/bernteintahiti.jpg)


Sarge

Trouble in Tahiti is eggzackly the sort of piece for which I should have had too little patience, a decade ago.  Musically great fun.  The sentimental number, perhaps skirting a shade close to maudlin, but keeping just enough distance not to provoke cynicism.  The types of the husband and wife, and much of the book, are certainly a product of the Zeitgeist (we may even say, A Child of Its Time).  Not Moving, but I truly think Touching.  (There's a hair I must have split, there.)

I cannot help feeling that, if I have responded to the work so positively, just listening to it on CD, it must work very well on stage, and in the theatre.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 20, 2012, 11:16:59 AM
Trouble in Tahiti is eggzackly the sort of piece for which I should have had too little patience, a decade ago.  Musically great fun.  The sentimental number, perhaps skirting a shade close to maudlin, but keeping just enough distance not to provoke cynicism.  The types of the husband and wife, and much of the book, are certainly a product of the Zeitgeist (we may even say, A Child of Its Time).  Not Moving, but I truly think Touching.  (There's a hair I must have split, there.)

I cannot help feeling that, if I have responded to the work so positively, just listening to it on CD, it must work very well on stage, and in the theatre.


How about Facsimile Karl?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 20, 2012, 11:17:30 AM
Oh, like that one entirely.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 20, 2012, 11:30:07 AM
Oh, like that one entirely.

Me too  :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 26, 2012, 10:33:01 AM
Against the (many) cringeworthy bits in West Side Story, we have gems such as:

Quote
They didn't want to have me, yet somehow I was had:
Leapin' lizards, that's why I'm so bad!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Bogey on September 29, 2012, 04:54:33 PM
I know Marin Alsop's reviews here on this board have been mixed at best (I do have to give her credit for what she chooses to record, though), but this piece on Lenny's Third Symphony I thought was interesting.  Whether one agrees with all her points or not, its nice to see someone championing this work:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/09/29/161824558/leonard-bernsteins-kaddish-symphony-a-crisis-of-faith
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 29, 2012, 07:38:56 PM
I know Marin Alsop's reviews here on this board have been mixed at best (I do have to give her credit for what she chooses to record, though), but this piece on Lenny's Third Symphony I thought was interesting.  Whether one agrees with all her points or not, its nice to see someone championing this work:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/deceptivecadence/2012/09/29/161824558/leonard-bernsteins-kaddish-symphony-a-crisis-of-faith

Thanks for this, Bill. I actually like Bernstein's Kiddish symphony. A work that has a lot of flaws sure, but it is a fascinating work. I often compare a work like this to Tippett's last two symphonies, because despite what one would perhaps call 'orchestral clumsiness,' there's an honesty and an ingenuity about it that I find compelling. I love Bernstein's other two symphonies as well.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Bogey on September 30, 2012, 05:14:38 AM
Thanks for this, Bill. I actually like Bernstein's Kiddish symphony. A work that has a lot of flaws sure, but it is a fascinating work. I often compare a work like this to Tippett's last two symphonies, because despite what one would perhaps call 'orchestral clumsiness,' there's an honesty and an ingenuity about it that I find compelling. I love Bernstein's other two symphonies as well.

Just nice to see folks in the business keeping this type of music relevant....at least for the general listener.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on September 30, 2012, 05:40:02 AM
Just nice to see folks in the business keeping this type of music relevant....at least for the general listener.

Yes, it really is. I'm not fond of Alsop's conducting, but I applaud here efforts to take on repertoire such as the Kiddish. Still, for Bernstein's own music, it's hard to find a better interpreter than Bernstein himself. His early recordings of his own music on Columbia (Sony) are indispensable.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Bogey on September 30, 2012, 10:21:00 AM
Yes, it really is. I'm not fond of Alsop's conducting, but I applaud here efforts to take on repertoire such as the Kiddish. Still, for Bernstein's own music, it's hard to find a better interpreter than Bernstein himself. His early recordings of his own music on Columbia (Sony) are indispensable.

It is rare that I do not enjoy a piece that has gone through the Lenny filter.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jlaurson on October 01, 2012, 03:00:28 AM
Thanks for this, Bill. I actually like Bernstein's Kiddish symphony. A work that has a lot of flaws sure, but it is a fascinating work. I often compare a work like this to Tippett's last two symphonies, because despite what one would perhaps call 'orchestral clumsiness,' there's an honesty and an ingenuity about it that I find compelling. I love Bernstein's other two symphonies as well.

I feel skittish* about the Kaddish...





[* Not really - I outright hate it (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2008/12/ionarts-at-large-munich-messiaen-2008.html)... although I reckon singular elements of merit in the mess.]
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: snyprrr on October 01, 2012, 04:53:04 AM
I feel skittish* about the Kaddish...





[* Not really - I outright hate it (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2008/12/ionarts-at-large-munich-messiaen-2008.html)... although I reckon singular elements of merit in the mess.]

Did you see the review in The Post today?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Bogey on October 01, 2012, 05:39:16 PM




[* Not really - I outright hate it (http://ionarts.blogspot.com/2008/12/ionarts-at-large-munich-messiaen-2008.html)... although I reckon singular elements of merit in the mess.]

 :D

I feel ya.  I draw parallels with this and later Coltrane.  Not something I would spin often, but once and a while it just scratches that itch for me.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: jlaurson on October 01, 2012, 10:39:51 PM
Did you see the review in The Post today?

I hadn't - now I read it. Actually a very descent review!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 31, 2013, 06:56:23 PM
Time to revive ol' Lenny's thread. A very good composer --- not a great one, but I enjoy many of his works. Listening his Age of Anxiety symphony again and it's probably one of his best works as far as his more serious concert music is concerned.
Title: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on February 01, 2013, 09:47:53 PM
I always enjoy Lenny's work, lately, I've been listening to West Side Story, original cast recording. This work is sublime. i also love his symphonies. He's a major player.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on February 01, 2013, 09:53:30 PM
I always enjoy Lenny's work, lately, I've been listening to West Side Story, original cast recording. This work is sublime. i also love his symphonies. He's a major player.

He's still quite underrated as a composer, but things are getting better for his music I think. Naxos has a series and the Mass has been recorded by Nagano, Alsop, and Kristjan Jarvi. That's quite impressive for a work that induces a gag reflex inside of me when I hear it. ;) :D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on February 02, 2013, 07:13:59 AM
He's still quite underrated as a composer, but things are getting better for his music I think. Naxos has a series and the Mass has been recorded by Nagano, Alsop, and Kristjan Jarvi. That's quite impressive for a work that induces a gag reflex inside of me when I hear it. ;) :D

Oh yes, Mass!

I still have a fondness for the music itself, with a nostalgic ear of checking this LP from the library when I was young. And the work’s orchestral meditations are as lovely as anything in his “classical” output, BUT I must conclude that anyone staging Mass in 2013 should have paramedics on call, just in case anyone in the audience dies of embarrassment!

Yes, I have to admit it still sticks in my throat to hear Mr. Radical Chic lecturing the audience on hypocrisy in 1971. He gives us a Street Chorus shouting anti-war slogans at a guilt-racked Celebrant, and there are electric guitars producing “rock music” with a Broadway swing that must strike all who listen to Leonard Bernstein’s Mass as the most cringe-inducing in the history of sacred music. We’re only a couple of minutes into this “Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers” and already the Roman liturgy is being interrupted by doo-wop burblings from its multiple choirs? Thus I agree Benstein's body of work is, of course, uneven.

But I am fascinated by the fact that “Mass,” is a pop-laced deconstruction of Christian ritual in which Bernstein’s greatest strengths and flaws collide in a single unstable compound.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on February 02, 2013, 07:32:37 AM
Bernstein's Mass should be retitled to Mess. ;) :D I do agree that there are some redeeming qualities of the work, but not enough to warrant a serious listen from me.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on February 02, 2013, 07:45:25 AM
Mess! Yes, I agree! And I too have no desire for a return visit to this work, anytime soon!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on February 02, 2013, 07:47:40 AM
Mess! Yes, I agree! And I too have no desire for a return visit to this work, anytime soon!

Agreed! :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Bogey on April 13, 2013, 06:38:45 AM
Nice '58 Jupiter:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBRPEdWwRls

Is this available on cd? or vinyl?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on April 15, 2015, 08:46:34 AM
While listening to the 10CD original covers box it struck me that Bernstein was known especially as an interpreter of Mahler, but also Haydn, leaving behind wonderful recordings of their works. 

What other conductor is known for being an excellent interpreter regarding the music of arguably very different composers.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Jo498 on April 15, 2015, 09:32:06 AM
Fricsay's two favorite composers and maybe the ones of which he recorded the most music were Mozart and Bartok.
Colin Davis apparently had a special liking for both Berlioz and Sibelius
Eugen Jochum was famous for his Bruckner and Bach, but also Mozart, Haydn and Orff.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 15, 2015, 11:24:05 AM
While listening to the 10CD original covers box it struck me that Bernstein was known especially as an interpreter of Mahler, but also Haydn, leaving behind wonderful recordings of their works. 

What other conductor is known for being an excellent interpreter regarding the music of arguably very different composers.

Also Shostakovich and there's a fine Vaughan Williams Symphony 4.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Moonfish on April 15, 2015, 12:26:43 PM
We have the Leonard Bernstein Conducting thread (http://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php/topic,1346.msg31985.html#msg31985) as well.....
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2015, 06:26:00 AM
This weekend my mother-in-law and brother-in-law went to a performance The Mass in Philadelphia. 

I have always had a soft spot for this work ever since first hearing it back in 1971.  I still have that recording but haven't listened to it ai ages.  My brother-in-law hated it and my wife said he was quite merciless when she talked to him (keep in mind he does not listen to classical music much).  Since she had never heard it I played most of the fist half this morning, and while she agree it sounded dated in places, she thought her brother a tad unfair.

In reading back over this thread it appears that The Mass does not get a lot of love from GMG (and the Kaddish Symphony either).  I will say it: I love The Mass - in all its unabashed and over-the-top indulgences.  Absolutely love it!  (And I wrote a complimentary Amazon review of Jamie Bernstein's new text and recitation for the 3rd symphony.)

Go ahead - call me a softy, but Bernstein is a composer that just gets me every time.

 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 04, 2015, 06:54:10 AM
There are some parts of the Mass that I enjoy, but I think in this instance Bernstein bit off more than he could chew. The whole work is an absolute mess and many of the ideas just seems haphazardly strung together without any kind of care or thought whatsoever. I like Bernstein's music, but this work has never done anything for me. Perhaps I should re-listen to it at some point, but I've heard it several times and never felt anything from it other than being terrified by it's kitschiness.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2015, 06:56:59 AM
There are some parts of the Mass that I enjoy, but I think in this instance Bernstein bit off more than he could chew. The whole work is an absolute mess and many of the ideas just seems haphazardly strung together without any kind of care or thought whatsoever. I like Bernstein's music, but this work has never done anything for me. Perhaps I should re-listen to it at some point, but I've heard it several times and never felt anything from it other than being terrified by it's kitschiness.


An opposing view, and one shared by others.  But one which does not change my enjoyment of the work one bit.

 ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 04, 2015, 07:03:06 AM

An opposing view, and one shared by others.  But one which does not change my enjoyment of the work one bit.

 ;)

Not that I would try to change your mind or anyone else's of course. We like what we like whether it's in our control or out of our control. ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brewski on May 04, 2015, 07:18:11 AM
This weekend my mother-in-law and brother-in-law went to a performance The Mass in Philadelphia. 

I have always had a soft spot for this work ever since first hearing it back in 1971.  I still have that recording but haven't listened to it ai ages.  My brother-in-law hated it and my wife said he was quite merciless when she talked to him (keep in mind he does not listen to classical music much).  Since she had never heard it I played most of the fist half this morning, and while she agree it sounded dated in places, she thought her brother a tad unfair.

In reading back over this thread it appears that The Mass does not get a lot of love from GMG (and the Kaddish Symphony either).  I will say it: I love The Mass - in all its unabashed and over-the-top indulgences.  Absolutely love it!  (And I wrote a complimentary Amazon review of Jamie Bernstein's new text and recitation for the 3rd symphony.)

Go ahead - call me a softy, but Bernstein is a composer that just gets me every time.

 :)

Reports on the Philadelphia performance were mostly quite positive, even spectacular - certainly looks like it, from the photos posted on Facebook.

I heard it for the very first time in 2008, when Marin Alsop and the Baltimore SO brought it to NYC's United Palace Theatre (quite over-the top, see photos). And I wrote a short review, below. Mostly, I liked the piece, even if it is something of a behemoth. (Or maybe that's its attraction, said as a fan of the Mahler Eighth.  8))

https://unitedpalace.org/united-palace-theatre

http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2008/Jul-Dec08/alsop2510.htm

--Bruce
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 04, 2015, 07:18:37 AM
This weekend my mother-in-law and brother-in-law went to a performance The Mass in Philadelphia. 

I have always had a soft spot for this work ever since first hearing it back in 1971.  I still have that recording but haven't listened to it ai ages.  My brother-in-law hated it and my wife said he was quite merciless when she talked to him (keep in mind he does not listen to classical music much).  Since she had never heard it I played most of the fist half this morning, and while she agree it sounded dated in places, she thought her brother a tad unfair.

In reading back over this thread it appears that The Mass does not get a lot of love from GMG (and the Kaddish Symphony either).  I will say it: I love The Mass - in all its unabashed and over-the-top indulgences.  Absolutely love it!  (And I wrote a complimentary Amazon review of Jamie Bernstein's new text and recitation for the 3rd symphony.)

Go ahead - call me a softy, but Bernstein is a composer that just gets me every time.

 :)

Whether you’re a softy or not, one of the first sort-of-like-composition things I ever did was arrange West Side Story so that three wind players could plausibly serve in the pit, and Bernstein has always had my musical respect and affection as a result.  I’ve never listened through the Mass yet . . . the occasional snippet which I experienced over the years rather disinclined me to the work – I do not say that to defend myself.  I bought the SONY reissue box, reckoning that it was excellent value for me, even if I considered two of the CDs as negligible.  Our Brian’s being a huge fan of the Mass has put me in a frame of mind to reconsider;  and I am alive to how the listener must really be prepared to take a “new” piece on its own terms – heck, the first time I listened to a Haydn Mass, I disliked it, because it was not doing the things I wanted a musical setting of the Mass to do.

So, at present I remain a Bernstein Mass Agnostic;  I shall certainly listen to it sometime, I’m just not yet certain – I want to try to be sure that my ears are as accommodating as the composer deserves.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2015, 07:26:13 AM
Whether you’re a softy or not, one of the first sort-of-like-composition things I ever did was arrange West Side Story so that three wind players could plausibly serve in the pit, and Bernstein has always had my musical respect and affection as a result.  I’ve never listened through the Mass yet . . . the occasional snippet which I experienced over the years rather disinclined me to the work – I do not say that to defend myself.  I bought the SONY reissue box, reckoning that it was excellent value for me, even if I considered two of the CDs as negligible.  Our Brian’s being a huge fan of the Mass has put me in a frame of mind to reconsider;  and I am alive to how the listener must really be prepared to take a “new” piece on its own terms – heck, the first time I listened to a Haydn Mass, I disliked it, because it was not doing the things I wanted a musical setting of the Mass to do.

So, at present I remain a Bernstein Mass Agnostic;  I shall certainly listen to it sometime, I’m just not yet certain – I want to try to be sure that my ears are as accommodating as the composer deserves.



Now that there have been more recent interpretations, Bernstein's version is *arguably* not the best way to experience the work.  The BBC YouTube might be an option, Järvi does a good job and his soloists are decent, IMO.  The work is a monster because of the stylistic demands.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2015, 07:28:18 AM
Reports on the Philadelphia performance were mostly quite positive, even spectacular - certainly looks like it, from the photos posted on Facebook.

I heard it for the very first time in 2008, when Marin Alsop and the Baltimore SO brought it to NYC's United Palace Theatre (quite over-the top, see photos). And I wrote a short review, below. Mostly, I liked the piece, even if it is something of a behemoth. (Or maybe that's its attraction, said as a fan of the Mahler Eighth.  8))

https://unitedpalace.org/united-palace-theatre

http://www.musicweb-international.com/SandH/2008/Jul-Dec08/alsop2510.htm

--Bruce

Excellent review and a view I quite share.  I will pass along the remarks about the Philly performance to my wife.

 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Pat B on May 04, 2015, 09:34:40 AM
Whether you’re a softy or not, one of the first sort-of-like-composition things I ever did was arrange West Side Story so that three wind players could plausibly serve in the pit, and Bernstein has always had my musical respect and affection as a result.  I’ve never listened through the Mass yet . . . the occasional snippet which I experienced over the years rather disinclined me to the work – I do not say that to defend myself.  I bought the SONY reissue box, reckoning that it was excellent value for me, even if I considered two of the CDs as negligible.  Our Brian’s being a huge fan of the Mass has put me in a frame of mind to reconsider;  and I am alive to how the listener must really be prepared to take a “new” piece on its own terms – heck, the first time I listened to a Haydn Mass, I disliked it, because it was not doing the things I wanted a musical setting of the Mass to do.

So, at present I remain a Bernstein Mass Agnostic;  I shall certainly listen to it sometime, I’m just not yet certain – I want to try to be sure that my ears are as accommodating as the composer deserves.

I've listened to it a couple of times. I probably don't really understand it yet. For now, I don't quite share sanantonio's enthusiasm, but I think it's better than its reputation.

Whenever the time comes, it might work best if you try not to think of it as a mass at all.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on May 04, 2015, 09:47:19 AM
I've listened to it a couple of times. I probably don't really understand it yet. For now, I don't quite share sanantonio's enthusiasm, but I think it's better than its reputation.

Whenever the time comes, it might work best if you try not to think of it as a mass at all.

I can see that, indeed.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 04, 2015, 11:11:36 AM
So, today was devoted in large part to Bernstein's Mass

This morning I listened to about half of the original Bernstein-led recording.  Next I listened to a YouTube video of a BBC Proms live performance of the work led by Kristjan Järvi (which was marred somewhat by a lead singer who I thought did not hold up very well), and now I am listening to Marin Alsop's recording on Naxos.

Even though I am only into the first 15 minutes of Alsop's recording, I think I can say with some level of confidence that hers is the recording to have.



 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brewski on May 04, 2015, 11:30:10 AM
And Jubilant Sykes! I mean, he's not called "jubilant" for no reason.  8) (Had never heard of him before this.)

At the time, I didn't want to muddy the glow of the live performance, so have not heard the recording. But now enough time has passed - and, as fun as it was to be in the United Palace Theatre, the sonics are not ideal, and the sound is probably much better on this studio version.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 05, 2015, 10:01:15 AM
My blog post about Bernstein's Mass (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/leonard-bernsteins-mass/)

Quote
Among the composers of the 20th century Bernstein’s output might appear to be modest. He was a busy conductor, after all,  but still managed to leave behind an impressive body of work.  Eclecticism was his own personal brand.  He wrote three symphonies, none following the traditional symphonic form, as well as chamber music, music for piano, instrumental sonatas and dozens of art songs.  Still, he is probably most famous for the Broadway masterpiece West Side Story from which he crafted a suite of symphonic dances.  He wrote the film scores, his most famous the one for On The Waterfront. 

But even for a composer known for stylistic inclusiveness Mass is eclecticism brought to the extreme.

Written in 1971 with a with text from the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Mass but including additional texts written by Stephen Schwartz and himself, it is a work both celebrating and questioning religious faith.  Mass is subtitled, "A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers" which should give you an idea that this is not a mass setting like any you may have heard before.

Near the end, I plugged your review, Bruce.

 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 23, 2015, 12:01:13 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/F-Zfhk22-_M
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on August 23, 2015, 12:05:15 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/F-Zfhk22-_M

I was expecting something more volatile. This is quite tame and reminds me that Bernstein had mellowed out much more as he aged.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Maestro267 on August 23, 2015, 12:50:52 PM
I bought the Naxos recording of Mass in 2009, and I have been in love with the piece ever since. It is my favourite work of the last 50 years. Incredible tension and drama builds throughout the piece, culminating in that cataclysmic "Dona nobis pacem" and the Celebrant's long mad scene, and the closing reprise of "Almighty Father, incline thine ear" (this time sung by the entire company) always moves me.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 23, 2015, 12:54:04 PM
Brian is a big fan of the Mass, too, IIRC.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on August 23, 2015, 01:56:52 PM
I bought the Naxos recording of Mass in 2009, and I have been in love with the piece ever since. It is my favourite work of the last 50 years. Incredible tension and drama builds throughout the piece, culminating in that cataclysmic "Dona nobis pacem" and the Celebrant's long mad scene, and the closing reprise of "Almighty Father, incline thine ear" (this time sung by the entire company) always moves me.

I also think this is the best recording of Mass - and am another big fan of the work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Christo on August 23, 2015, 08:28:35 PM
I also think this is the best recording of Mass - and am another big fan of the work.

Great to hear - the same applies to me. Heard it around 1980 and love it.  :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on August 24, 2015, 03:28:23 AM
Great to hear - the same applies to me. Heard it around 1980 and love it.  :)

Earlier this year I wrote about my admiration of Mass and surveyed the available recordings, here (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/leonard-bernsteins-mass/).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on November 26, 2015, 08:33:19 AM
Mess! Yes, I agree! And I too have no desire for a return visit to this work, anytime soon!

Kent Nagano's account of Bernstein's Mass is turning me around on this work. It's a revelation to hear this performance - it's definitely different in tone to Bernstein's original recording and refreshing to hear. I've got to get Alsop's account now!!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: zamyrabyrd on November 29, 2015, 08:45:40 AM
I had a hard time with this piece from the very beginning. Here's why:
'In the beginning all of the performers are in harmony and agreement. During the course of the Mass, however, the street choir begins expressing doubts and suspicions about the necessity of God in their lives and the role of the Mass itself. At the play's emotional climax, the growing cacophony of the chorus' complaining finally interrupts the elevation of the Body and Blood (the consecrated bread and wine). The celebrant, in a furious rage, hurls the sacred bread, housed in an ornate cross-like monstrance, and the chalice of wine, smashing them on the floor.
At this sacrilege the other cast members collapse to the ground as if dead while the Celebrant sings a solo. This solo blends the chorus's disbelief with his realization that he feels worn out and wonders where the strength of his original faith has gone.

At the end of his song, he too collapses. A bird-like (Holy Spirit) flute solo begins, darting here and there from different speakers in the hall, finally "alighting" in a single clear note. An altar server, who was absent during the conflict, then sings a hymn of praise to God, "Sing God a Secret Song[6]". This restores the faith of the three choirs, who join the altar server, one by one, in his hymn of praise. They tell the Celebrant "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you), and end with a hymn asking for God's blessing. The last words of the piece are: "The Mass is ended; go in peace."'
(from Wikipedia)
All I can say is, what bloody nerve!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 30, 2015, 04:22:40 AM
I had a hard time with this piece from the very beginning. Here's why:

'In the beginning all of the performers are in harmony and agreement. During the course of the Mass, however, the street choir begins expressing doubts and suspicions about the necessity of God in their lives and the role of the Mass itself. At the play's emotional climax, the growing cacophony of the chorus' complaining finally interrupts the elevation of the Body and Blood (the consecrated bread and wine). The celebrant, in a furious rage, hurls the sacred bread, housed in an ornate cross-like monstrance, and the chalice of wine, smashing them on the floor. At this sacrilege the other cast members collapse to the ground as if dead while the Celebrant sings a solo. This solo blends the chorus's disbelief with his realization that he feels worn out and wonders where the strength of his original faith has gone.

At the end of his song, he too collapses. A bird-like (Holy Spirit) flute solo begins, darting here and there from different speakers in the hall, finally "alighting" in a single clear note. An altar server, who was absent during the conflict, then sings a hymn of praise to God, "Sing God a Secret Song[6]". This restores the faith of the three choirs, who join the altar server, one by one, in his hymn of praise. They tell the Celebrant "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you), and end with a hymn asking for God's blessing. The last words of the piece are: "The Mass is ended; go in peace."'
(from Wikipedia)

All I can say is, what bloody nerve!

You're right.  (I still haven't brought myself to listen to the piece.  There is whatever-I've-known-about-the-piece-before which is generally an obstacle.  And there is what-I-continue-to-learn-about-it, which is further obstacle.  With becalmed mind, I consider the facts, and I just don't find anything to motivate me to listen to the piece.)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on November 30, 2015, 04:27:28 AM
I had a hard time with this piece from the very beginning. Here's why:
'In the beginning all of the performers are in harmony and agreement. During the course of the Mass, however, the street choir begins expressing doubts and suspicions about the necessity of God in their lives and the role of the Mass itself. At the play's emotional climax, the growing cacophony of the chorus' complaining finally interrupts the elevation of the Body and Blood (the consecrated bread and wine). The celebrant, in a furious rage, hurls the sacred bread, housed in an ornate cross-like monstrance, and the chalice of wine, smashing them on the floor.
At this sacrilege the other cast members collapse to the ground as if dead while the Celebrant sings a solo. This solo blends the chorus's disbelief with his realization that he feels worn out and wonders where the strength of his original faith has gone.

At the end of his song, he too collapses. A bird-like (Holy Spirit) flute solo begins, darting here and there from different speakers in the hall, finally "alighting" in a single clear note. An altar server, who was absent during the conflict, then sings a hymn of praise to God, "Sing God a Secret Song[6]". This restores the faith of the three choirs, who join the altar server, one by one, in his hymn of praise. They tell the Celebrant "Pax tecum" (Peace be with you), and end with a hymn asking for God's blessing. The last words of the piece are: "The Mass is ended; go in peace."'
(from Wikipedia)
All I can say is, what bloody nerve!

You're right.  (I still haven't brought myself to listen to the piece.  There is whatever-I've-known-about-the-piece-before which is generally an obstacle.  And there is what-I-continue-to-learn-about-it, which is further obstacle.  With becalmed mind, I consider the facts, and I just don't find anything to motivate me to listen to the piece.)

I love the work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on November 30, 2015, 04:32:19 AM
I love the work.

I know. As does our Brian (whose enthusiasm set my mind to considering giving it a listen).  When I reflect on it, I find myself wondering if I should do Bernstein a better service by just continuing to listen to the music which I can unequivocally admire.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: zamyrabyrd on November 30, 2015, 05:37:06 AM
You're right.  (I still haven't brought myself to listen to the piece.  There is whatever-I've-known-about-the-piece-before which is generally an obstacle.  And there is what-I-continue-to-learn-about-it, which is further obstacle.  With becalmed mind, I consider the facts, and I just don't find anything to motivate me to listen to the piece.)

It was on the classical music station not so long ago, so it was in my face while driving. Didn't shut the radio as I was curious. I didn't think the music itself was up to his best stuff. I remember the big hoopla when Jackie Kennedy went to the premiere. (She and some other Kennedy's were strange Catholics, but that I suppose is off-topic.)

Zb
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on November 30, 2015, 05:49:56 AM
It was on the classical music station not so long ago, so it was in my face while driving. Didn't shut the radio as I was curious. I didn't think the music itself was up to his best stuff. I remember the big hoopla when Jackie Kennedy went to the premiere. (She and some other Kennedy's were strange Catholics, but that I suppose is off-topic.)

Zb

Not to belabor the discussion, of course each person's reaction to the work is valid.  But I consider Mass to contain Bernstein's best music,second only to West Side Story (I especially like the gumbo of styles).  I also feel quite differently from you about the theology in the work, which deals with the ageless issue of struggling with faith.  I think (could be mistaken) that the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations, and the challenge to hope they represented in 1971,  were central to Bernstein's inspiration for this work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: zamyrabyrd on November 30, 2015, 05:56:58 AM
Not to belabor the discussion, of course each person's reaction to the work is valid.  But I consider Mass to contain Bernstein's best music,second only to West Side Story (I especially like the gumbo of styles).  I also feel quite differently from you about the theology in the work, which deals with the ageless issue of struggling with faith.  I think (could be mistaken) that the JFK, RFK and MLK assassinations, and the challenge to hope they represented in 1971,  were central to Bernstein's inspiration for this work.

Well, Bernstein could have had the same effect by throwing the Torah or Talmud on the floor. His father would have been scandalized however and maybe some other people as well. I find this work high camp which was also central to Lennie. And I did read Burton's biography.

Zb
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on December 05, 2015, 05:41:19 AM
(http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61wtSkDSZPL.jpg)

I'm currently enjoying works I haven't heard by Bernstein. This morning I'm playing his Concerto for Orchestra 'Jubilee Games' which I rather like.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 05, 2015, 05:54:53 AM
I may embark on a Lenny-thon soon . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/v/Rb0DLC6-Uj0
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Leo K. on December 06, 2015, 05:47:49 AM
I may embark on a Lenny-thon soon . . . .

https://www.youtube.com/v/Rb0DLC6-Uj0

I'm listening to Lenny in the midst of a Schoenberg marathon and enjoying the forays into blind spots of his work. This morning I'm very impressed with Slatkin's performance of the 'Jeremiah' Symphony No.1.

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/047/MI0001047534.jpg?partner=allrovi.com) 

I'm especially curious to hear other conductors (besides Lenny) play his serious works. It's a fascinating traversal to be sure!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on December 12, 2015, 01:48:18 AM
I'm listening to Lenny in the midst of a Schoenberg marathon and enjoying the forays into blind spots of his work. This morning I'm very impressed with Slatkin's performance of the 'Jeremiah' Symphony No.1.

(http://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/047/MI0001047534.jpg?partner=allrovi.com) 

I'm especially curious to hear other conductors (besides Lenny) play his serious works. It's a fascinating traversal to be sure!

The 'Jeremiah Symphony' is my favourite work by Bernstein and I have every single recording of it (OCD   ::)). The Slatkin is one of the very best - a fine performance and recording. My other favourite is the one conducted by Bernstein himself on CBS/Sony, the second of his three recordings. The discussions above have encouraged me to listen to the Mass. I also like the score for 'On the Waterfront'.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on December 12, 2015, 05:53:51 AM
I should revisit Jeremiad. I mean, Jeremiah  8)  I remember liking it all right, but that The Age of Anxiety "really tied the room together."
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on December 12, 2015, 09:03:59 AM
For me, Bernstein's crowing orchestral achievement is still his Serenade. The slow movement is especially memorable and heartfelt.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: TheGSMoeller on August 25, 2016, 08:47:35 AM
http://blogs.wfmt.com/offmic/2015/08/24/10-reaction-gifs-of-leonard-bernstein-conducting-that-you-never-knew-you-always-needed/
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 19, 2017, 02:17:22 PM
Best version of 'Jeremiah' known to me. A truly sensational and deeply moving performance and I have six versions including three by Bernstein himself. It is the fastest on record but played with such conviction that I was gripped like never before and there is a truly heartbreaking moment when the Mezzo-Soprano slows down in the middle of her rendition of Jeremiah's Lamentation:

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 19, 2017, 02:20:31 PM
Six versions!  Thanks for the review, Jeffrey.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 19, 2017, 02:23:47 PM
Six versions!  Thanks for the review, Jeffrey.
Always a pleasure Karl :)
Bernstein (RCA and Dutton,Sony,DGG - Sony is best I think)
Judd, Naxos
Slatkin, Chandos
I enjoy them all but Alsop is my favourite.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 19, 2017, 03:26:44 PM
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...
I agree with you about the Second Symphony which I'm just really discovering on the great new Alsop recording. I love the declamatory and redemptive ending.  :) :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Maestro267 on January 20, 2017, 07:44:00 AM
I picked up the new Baltimore/Alsop recording of Symphonies 1 & 2 yesterday. I listened to the 'Jeremiah' yesterday for the first time and really enjoyed it. Plenty of Bernstein's vivaciousness in the Profanation. All 3 symphonies, while perhaps impractical as a concert-hall programme, will make a nice early evening of listening as a complete cycle.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 20, 2017, 07:50:15 AM
The 'Jeremiah Symphony' is my favourite work by Bernstein and I have every single recording of it (OCD   ::)). The Slatkin is one of the very best - a fine performance and recording. My other favourite is the one conducted by Bernstein himself on CBS/Sony, the second of his three recordings. The discussions above have encouraged me to listen to the Mass. I also like the score for 'On the Waterfront'.

I am a real big fan of Mass ever since I first heard it back when it was first released on LP. I think 1971.  I did a survey of the available recordings, if you are interested:  Leonard Bernstein's Mass (https://musicakaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/05/05/leonard-bernsteins-mass/).

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on January 20, 2017, 08:44:33 AM
There are some parts of the Mass that I enjoy, but I think in this instance Bernstein bit off more than he could chew. The whole work is an absolute mess and many of the ideas just seem haphazardly strung together without any kind of care or thought whatsoever. I like Bernstein's music, but this work has never done anything for me. Perhaps I should re-listen to it at some point, but I've heard it several times and never felt anything from it other than being terrified by its kitschiness.

I will agree with this. I see I haven't written to this thread before, but I know I've commented on Mass somewhere way-back-when, and for me the whole work is a pretentious embarrassment. Someone above wrote, and I will agree, that the piece is a "a stillborn behemoth which only occasionally shows flickers of life."

For me, the best things in Bernstein's music are Candide, the Serenade (except for that god-awful fake-jazzy finale), and parts of Songfest. In fact I heard LB conduct Songfest at the NYPhil where the companion was the Schumann 2. Since I didn't have much money in those days, I didn't get to hear Lenny Live as often as I would have liked (since who knew he'd die so young?), but that was a memorable concert. As was a 1990 Mahler 2 at Avery Fisher, and a Vienna Phil at Carnegie where the program included the Mahler Rückerts with Hampson and Sibelius 1.

I see in his article that SA makes reference to LB's political involvement. Those interested should read a book by a close friend of mine, Barry Seldes's "Leonard Bernstein: The Political Life of an American Musician." Seldes's conclusion about Bernstein's inability to complete his wished-for great American opera seems to me weak, but the body of the book is illuminating.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 20, 2017, 09:11:46 AM
I think that's why I love Mass so much: it is so inclusive and outrageous. 

Bernstein was a product of his times and this work, for me, is the most Bernsteinian of all his compositions.  Sure, it's a pastiche.  Sure, it is gauche and corny.  But it is also moving, and beautiful, and even "thorny".  And, this is probably the most important aspect, it asks tough questions but ends up expressing hope.

 ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 20, 2017, 09:21:58 AM
I think that's why I love Mass so much: it is so inclusive and outrageous. 

Bernstein was a product of his times and this work, for me, is the most Bernsteinian of all his compositions.  Sure, it's a pastiche.  Sure, it is gauche and corny.  But it is also moving, and beautiful, and even "thorny".  And, this is probably the most important aspect, it asks tough questions but ends up expressing hope.

 ;)

I can see your viewpoint, even while my suspicion is that I should likely align more or less with (poco) sfz.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 20, 2017, 09:26:44 AM
At the very least, I marvel that half a century on, opinion is so sharply divided.  Reminds me of that line from the Preface to The Picture of Dorian GrayWhen critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on January 20, 2017, 09:52:29 AM
I can see your viewpoint, even while my suspicion is that I should likely align more or less with (poco) sfz.

As would I.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 20, 2017, 10:10:53 AM
I picked up the new Baltimore/Alsop recording of Symphonies 1 & 2 yesterday. I listened to the 'Jeremiah' yesterday for the first time and really enjoyed it. Plenty of Bernstein's vivaciousness in the Profanation. All 3 symphonies, while perhaps impractical as a concert-hall programme, will make a nice early evening of listening as a complete cycle.
I have played the CD several times now with great pleasure on every occasion. I am growing to appreciate the 'Age of Anxiety' (maybe appropriate for today - sorry). I think that this CD together with Daniel Jones's 1st and 10th symphonies and Nathaniel Dett's 'Ordering of Moses' will be amongst my best discoveries of this year.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Maestro267 on January 20, 2017, 11:45:58 AM
I'm a huge fan of Bernstein's Mass. Easily my favourite work of his that I've heard.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 20, 2017, 11:53:46 AM
I have played the CD several times now with great pleasure on every occasion. I am growing to appreciate the 'Age of Anxiety' (maybe appropriate for today - sorry). I think that this CD together with Daniel Jones's 1st and 10th symphonies and Nathaniel Dett's 'Ordering of Moses' will be amongst my best discoveries of this year.

The Age of Anxiety is one of my Top Five Lenny Compositions  8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 20, 2017, 02:14:38 PM
The Age of Anxiety is one of my Top Five Lenny Compositions  8)
I think that it will become one of mine too Karl.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on January 20, 2017, 05:49:29 PM
Looks like an special upload from Cmaj7 on youtube for the inauguration..........

https://www.youtube.com/v/c6GyiGMM9pE
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on January 20, 2017, 06:04:31 PM
Looks like an special upload from Cmaj7 on youtube for the inauguration..........

https://www.youtube.com/v/c6GyiGMM9pE

This is even more embarrassing than Mass . . . .
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on January 20, 2017, 08:55:27 PM
This is even more embarrassing than Mass . . . .

I very nearly want to listen to Mass in order to better appreciate this post.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 20, 2017, 09:02:06 PM
The Age of Anxiety is one of my Top Five Lenny Compositions  8)

Oh, that's a groovy work. 8) Really enjoy it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on January 20, 2017, 09:21:38 PM
Mass is AWESOME! Don't diss it, guys! :(
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on January 20, 2017, 09:25:23 PM
https://www.youtube.com/v/sBVgCxbZaIc


HAAAAAALF OF THE PEOPLE ARE STONED AND THE OTHER HALF ARE WAITING FOR THE NEXT ELECTION!

HALF OF THE PEOPLE ARE DROWNED AND THE OTHER HALF ARE SWIMMING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!

;D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on August 28, 2017, 12:31:11 PM
Heard 'On the Waterfront' Suite from the film live  in London last night - it was terrific (Cincinnati SO/Louis Langree). The concert also featured Copland's 'Lincoln Portrait' and Tchaikovsky's 5th Symphony. It was a great evening.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on August 28, 2017, 01:04:46 PM
Mass is AWESOME! Don't diss it, guys! :(

I agree, it is among my favorite works he's written, and one I revisit fairly often.  But I've quit arguing its merits those who disagree.

 ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 28, 2017, 03:13:09 PM
I agree, it is among my favorite works he's written, and one I revisit fairly often.  But I've quit arguing its merits those who disagree.

 ;)

This is exactly my policy with the Leningrad 0:)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: zamyrabyrd on August 31, 2017, 08:03:21 AM
It was a double-take hearing from the TV in back of me while typing on the computer about the 100th anniversary year of Leonard Bernstein. Hey, wait a minute, he was born on August 25, 1918 (sun in Virgo but plenty of other planets in Leo the Lion)*. Someone decided the birthday celebrations are beginning a year in advance, yay!

This is a good example of Lenny in his prime. Many versions of the Sacre don't have the bite, the simmering and clarity, or if they do, not necessarily all three together. There are plenty frontal shots of his conducting, so you know he was not sneaking a peek in a score:

https://www.youtube.com/v/a9M2oTHa3GM&t=2s

*https://www.astrotheme.com/astrology/Leonard_Bernstein
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 31, 2017, 08:11:05 AM
Great stuff!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 29, 2018, 11:06:37 PM
I'm pleased to see the Bernstein Centenary being fully commemorated in the Proms in London later this year. Two of my favourites, 'Jeremiah' Symphony and 'The Age of Anxiety' are being performed amongst much else. There has been some fuss in the press here about a non-Latin American singer being cast as 'Maria' in West Side Story (she has withdrawn from the project). Still, I hope to get to see one or both of the symphonies being performed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43891939
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Maestro267 on April 29, 2018, 11:18:00 PM
Oh jeez...I thought we were supposed to be going towards inclusivity in everything, where everyone is allowed to do anything.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: ComposerOfAvantGarde on April 29, 2018, 11:38:10 PM
Oh jeez...I thought we were supposed to be going towards inclusivity in everything, where everyone is allowed to do anything.

I agree, and this issue is something more to do with setting up better opportunities for those who typically find it more difficult to get roles in operas and music theatre due to embedded prejudices as well as more generally eliminating conscious and unconscious biases to even out the playing field. I'm not sure exactly how this applies to fictional characters.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on April 30, 2018, 12:00:24 AM
Oh jeez...I thought we were supposed to be going towards inclusivity in everything, where everyone is allowed to do anything.

Good point.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 04, 2018, 06:29:44 AM
I'm pleased to see the Bernstein Centenary being fully commemorated in the Proms in London later this year. Two of my favourites, 'Jeremiah' Symphony and 'The Age of Anxiety' are being performed amongst much else. There has been some fuss in the press here about a non-Latin American singer being cast as 'Maria' in West Side Story (she has withdrawn from the project). Still, I hope to get to see one or both of the symphonies being performed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43891939

Yes, Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ and Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ are fantastic works unlike his embarrassingly empty and garbled Mass, which I have never understood the appeal (for those that actually like the work). I also love On the Waterfront, Fancy Free, Serenade, Facsimile, and West Side Story (perhaps Lenny’s greatest musical contribution IMHO).

Have any of you considered getting this set?

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/747313801831.jpg?1517746222)

Alsop was a protégée of Bernstein’s and her affinity for his idiom (from what I’ve heard anyway) sounds quite good I must say.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Crudblud on May 04, 2018, 06:54:23 AM
Oh jeez...I thought we were supposed to be going towards inclusivity in everything, where everyone is allowed to do anything.
I believe the idea is that it is okay or even preferable to "reimagine" roles that would traditionally be played by white people as "minority" roles because most roles are "white" to begin with. To do it the other way around, and have a "minority" role be done "white", is "whitewashing". I don't really have an opinion on this particular instance, as far as I'm concerned the best person for the job will do regardless of what demographic categories are foisted upon them by accident of birth, but the choice of a performer to step down from a role is their own, even if it is politically motivated and encouraged by external forces. However, it does seem to be related to the broader culture of treating demographic imbalances as injustices and trying to remedy them with quotas rather than with legitimate equality of opportunity.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 04, 2018, 12:49:06 PM
Yes, Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ and Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ are fantastic works unlike his embarrassingly empty and garbled Mass, which I have never understood the appeal (for those that actually like the work). I also love On the Waterfront, Fancy Free, Serenade, Facsimile, and West Side Story (perhaps Lenny’s greatest musical contribution IMHO).

Have any of you considered getting this set?

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/747313801831.jpg?1517746222)

Alsop was a protégée of Bernstein’s and her affinity for his idiom (from what I’ve heard anyway) sounds quite good I must say.
It's very tempting I must say John but I think I have most of my favourites already as single Naxos releases from this fine series. Symphony 1 'Jeremiah' and 2 'Age of Anxiety' are indeed excellent performances.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 04, 2018, 05:29:01 PM
It's very tempting I must say John but I think I have most of my favourites already as single Naxos releases from this fine series. Symphony 1 'Jeremiah' and 2 'Age of Anxiety' are indeed excellent performances.

I don’t own all of Alsop’s Bernstein recordings, but there’s two new, never-before-released discs in this box set of some misc. orchestral works performed by the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. I wouldn’t say this would be reason enough for me to buy it, though. I’d like to pick up her recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 04, 2018, 09:46:59 PM
I don’t own all of Alsop’s Bernstein recordings, but there’s two new, never-before-released discs in this box set of some misc. orchestral works performed by the Sao Paulo Symphony Orchestra. I wouldn’t say this would be reason enough for me to buy it, though. I’d like to pick up her recording of Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2.
The box is still tempting I know. It is comparatively inexpensive and there is some bonus stuff in there unavailable elsewhere. Certainly I'd recommended the CD with symphonies 1 and 2 on. I've never really got on with 'Mass' either although some see it as Bernstein's masterpiece. I've also never really got on with the melodramatic Symphony 3 'Kaddish' although I should listen to both works again. I have a rather nice boxed set of 'original jackets' with Bernstein's compositions in mini versions of their original LP sleeves (not one of the recent much more expensive releases). I was amused reading an interview with Bernstein's daughter Jamie to discover that, as children, they only realised that their father was a well-known person whilst watching an episode of 'The Flintstones' on TV when Fred Flintstone announced that he was going to a concert conducted by 'Leonard Burnstone' at the 'Hollyrock Bowl'.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: NikF on May 04, 2018, 10:09:30 PM
I'm pleased to see the Bernstein Centenary being fully commemorated in the Proms in London later this year. Two of my favourites, 'Jeremiah' Symphony and 'The Age of Anxiety' are being performed amongst much else. There has been some fuss in the press here about a non-Latin American singer being cast as 'Maria' in West Side Story (she has withdrawn from the project). Still, I hope to get to see one or both of the symphonies being performed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-43891939

We've a few events up here in the North as part of 'Bernstein at 100'. Tonight there's the RSNO performing his MASS, and beforehand I'll be at a smaller venue to hear his Piano Trio. Also, the SSO season opener includes his Songfest, which will be completely new to me.
Anyway, hope you get to hear the symphonies. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 04, 2018, 10:18:44 PM
We've a few events up here in the North as part of 'Bernstein at 100'. Tonight there's the RSNO performing his MASS, and beforehand I'll be at a smaller venue to hear his Piano Trio. Also, the SSO season opener includes his Songfest, which will be completely new to me.
Anyway, hope you get to hear the symphonies. :)
Excellent! Hope you enjoy the concert Nik. I'm sure that seeing the Mass live will be interesting and I look forward to hearing what you think of the performances. I've always loved the 'Jeremiah' Symphony since the days of LP. 'The Age of Anxiety' has been a recent discovery for me and I've played various recorded performances many times recently. I like the Chandos, Slatkin CD of both works but also Bernstein's own both on CBS/Sony and DGG as well as the historic version of 'Jeremiah' on Pearl/Dutton. 'Facsimile' is another of my favourite Bernstein works and 'On the Waterfront' - his only film score.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 05, 2018, 04:25:47 AM
The box is still tempting I know. It is comparatively inexpensive and there is some bonus stuff in there unavailable elsewhere. Certainly I'd recommended the CD with symphonies 1 and 2 on. I've never really got on with 'Mass' either although some see it as Bernstein's masterpiece. I've also never really got on with the melodramatic Symphony 3 'Kaddish' although I should listen to both works again. I have a rather nice boxed set of 'original jackets' with Bernstein's compositions in mini versions of their original LP sleeves (not one of the recent much more expensive releases). I was amused reading an interview with Bernstein's daughter Jamie to discover that, as children, they only realised that their father was a well-known person whilst watching an episode of 'The Flintstones' on TV when Fred Flintstone announced that he was going to a concert conducted by 'Leonard Burnstone' at the 'Hollyrock Bowl'.

I own that original jacks box set as well. I believe it’s one of those Carnegie Hall Presents... box sets. I got it really cheap many years ago. Yes, I’m not fan of the third symphony (’Kaddish’) either. That’s quite amusing about the Leonard Burnstone at the Hollyrock Bowl. :D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: NikF on May 05, 2018, 09:21:53 PM
Excellent! Hope you enjoy the concert Nik. I'm sure that seeing the Mass live will be interesting and I look forward to hearing what you think of the performances. I've always loved the 'Jeremiah' Symphony since the days of LP. 'The Age of Anxiety' has been a recent discovery for me and I've played various recorded performances many times recently. I like the Chandos, Slatkin CD of both works but also Bernstein's own both on CBS/Sony and DGG as well as the historic version of 'Jeremiah' on Pearl/Dutton. 'Facsimile' is another of my favourite Bernstein works and 'On the Waterfront' - his only film score.

When a concert performance is due to be the first time I hear a piece I usually make a point of not listening to any recordings of it beforehand. That was the case here, but was one of the occasions when perhaps a listen ahead would have helped prepare for the breadth and scope of what was coming up. Now here this morning (while not fully awake yet) I'm considering it to have been an attempt for him to try and say and include everything, perhaps a kind of compilation of not just the ideas found in his own compositions, but also the approach he takes when interpreting others. I'm sure at some point I'll find a CD and at leisure try to find my bearings. ;D But I'm glad I experienced it. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 05, 2018, 10:17:20 PM
When a concert performance is due to be the first time I hear a piece I usually make a point of not listening to any recordings of it beforehand. That was the case here, but was one of the occasions when perhaps a listen ahead would have helped prepare for the breadth and scope of what was coming up. Now here this morning (while not fully awake yet) I'm considering it to have been an attempt for him to try and say and include everything, perhaps a kind of compilation of not just the ideas found in his own compositions, but also the approach he takes when interpreting others. I'm sure at some point I'll find a CD and at leisure try to find my bearings. ;D But I'm glad I experienced it. :)
How interesting. Thanks very much for the feedback Nik.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: zamyrabyrd on May 12, 2018, 02:27:31 AM
Yes, Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ and Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ are fantastic works unlike his embarrassingly empty and garbled Mass, which I have never understood the appeal (for those that actually like the work). I also love On the Waterfront, Fancy Free, Serenade, Facsimile, and West Side Story (perhaps Lenny’s greatest musical contribution IMHO).

It's incredible to think that Lenny has been gone for almost 30 years now.
I do agree with your choice of his best compositions.

zb
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on May 12, 2018, 03:02:00 AM
Yes, Symphony No. 1, ‘Jeremiah’ and Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’ are fantastic works unlike his embarrassingly empty and garbled Mass, which I have never understood the appeal (for those that actually like the work). I also love On the Waterfront, Fancy Free, Serenade, Facsimile, and West Side Story (perhaps Lenny’s greatest musical contribution IMHO).

Have any of you considered getting this set?

(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/747313801831.jpg?1517746222)

Alsop was a protégée of Bernstein’s and her affinity for his idiom (from what I’ve heard anyway) sounds quite good I must say.

Alsop's recording of Mass is the best, imo.  Oops!   :o   I forgot.  You don't understand why people, like me, enjoy Mass

 :-[

Well, there's still hope for you.   8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on May 12, 2018, 03:02:51 AM
embarrassingly empty and garbled Mass, which I have never understood the appeal (for those that actually like the work).

I'm one of those who have always loved "Mass" .  Not blindly, not in its entirety but as some kind of patchwork sampler of its time and the hopes and aspirations of that time.  I think it will date (has dated) in the way other Bernstein works have not but even then as a kind of period piece I find it often deeply moving.  I think it also represents its creator remarkably well - a host of influences/styles/aspirations/ideas.  I also think it is one of the very very few works that tries to bridge the divide between "Art" music and "Popular" music which works more than it doesn't.  All the other kind of "Concerto for Rock Band & Orchestra" or concept albums trying to fuse Rock with Cassical are abject failures to my ears by ending up dumbing down both genres.

As to why it can be described as "garbled" I have no idea.

By the way - the new DG Nezet-Seguin recording is awful!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on May 12, 2018, 03:25:23 AM
A less well-known version of Symphonies 1&2

- well played by the Arnhem Orchestra but of particular interest for Jard van Nes' excellent and moving singing of the "Lamentation" movement in No.1
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 12, 2018, 05:26:01 AM
It's incredible to think that Lenny has been gone for almost 30 years now.
I do agree with your choice of his best compositions.

zb

Indeed, but thankfully his musical legacy lives on!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on May 12, 2018, 06:08:19 AM
I'm one of those who have always loved "Mass" .  Not blindly, not in its entirety but as some kind of patchwork sampler of its time and the hopes and aspirations of that time.  I think it will date (has dated) in the way other Bernstein works have not but even then as a kind of period piece I find it often deeply moving.  I think it also represents its creator remarkably well - a host of influences/styles/aspirations/ideas.  I also think it is one of the very very few works that tries to bridge the divide between "Art" music and "Popular" music which works more than it doesn't.  All the other kind of "Concerto for Rock Band & Orchestra" or concept albums trying to fuse Rock with Cassical are abject failures to my ears by ending up dumbing down both genres.

As to why it can be described as "garbled" I have no idea.

By the way - the new DG Nezet-Seguin recording is awful!

I do like the Meditation movements from the Mass, but that’s about it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on May 12, 2018, 09:13:48 AM
A less well-known version of Symphonies 1&2

- well played by the Arnhem Orchestra but of particular interest for Jard van Nes' excellent and moving singing of the "Lamentation" movement in No.1
No picture showing  :(
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Christo on May 14, 2018, 03:14:30 AM
No picture showing  :(
(https://cps-static.rovicorp.com/3/JPG_400/MI0001/090/MI0001090538.jpg?partner=allrovi.com)
(Have it myself, of course; my local band playing).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on July 15, 2018, 04:21:27 AM
Thanks Johan.
This forthcoming release, should the picture appear, looks interesting:



And I heard this conductor perform Bernstein's Jeremiah Symphony in London last Friday. I was so delighted to hear this great work live.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: schnittkease on August 25, 2018, 06:05:29 AM
I thought that was Bernstein on the Google homepage.  Happy centennial celebrations!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on August 28, 2018, 05:41:01 AM
I thought that was Bernstein on the Google homepage.  Happy centennial celebrations!

Did not much look like him.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on June 17, 2019, 09:53:54 PM
I've been enjoying this performance of 'The Age of Anxiety' a work that I've come to appreciate greatly in the last couple of years. It's a live recording from 1959 and is Bernstein's debut in Salzburg with the NYPO. Good performance of the Shostakovich as well:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 06, 2020, 05:52:12 PM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Quote
First-Listen Mondays -

Bernstein
Halil - nocturne for flute, percussion and piano or orchestra
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein


(https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/e40fb0a7-90de-4140-957d-f2fd782042d9_1.9698df3ff904bcaec1ae385e398d7dc5.jpeg?odnWidth=450&odnHeight=450&odnBg=ffffff)

The beginning of this work has some Takemitsu-like phrases that I find quite fascinating, but then it goes into this lush, sensuous but subdued melodic section that I find intoxicating. I might have to repeat this work again. I liked it that much.

"Halil is formally unlike any other work I have written, but it is like much of my music in its struggle between tonal and non-tonal forces. In this case I sense that struggle as involving wars and the threats of wars, the overwhelming desire to live and the consolations of art, love, and the hope for peace.” - Leonard Bernstein

Has any one else heard this work, Halil? I find it quite haunting and shows a different side to the composer. Most people think of Bernstein’s West Side Story or perhaps the symphonies, but he composed a wide variety of music in many different genres. Another work that stuck out in my mind when I was exploring his music many years ago was Facsimile, which is a ballet in collaboration between the composer and Jerome Robbins.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 06, 2020, 10:39:33 PM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Has any one else heard this work, Halil? I find it quite haunting and shows a different side to the composer. Most people think of Bernstein’s West Side Story or perhaps the symphonies, but he composed a wide variety of music in many different genres. Another work that stuck out in my mind when I was exploring his music many years ago was Facsimile, which is a ballet in collaboration between the composer and Jerome Robbins.
I don't know it John but I really like Facsimile of which I have several recordings.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 07, 2020, 06:46:52 AM
I don't know it John but I really like Facsimile of which I have several recordings.

For your listening pleasure:

https://www.youtube.com/v/dJVwYaBzVQU

You will not find this work in the Bernstein Columbia (Sony) box set (or any Bernstein-led Columbia recording) because this is a later work and Columbia was nothing more than a distant memory at this point in his career.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 02:01:22 AM
For your listening pleasure:

https://www.youtube.com/v/dJVwYaBzVQU

You will not find this work in the Bernstein Columbia (Sony) box set (or any Bernstein-led Columbia recording) because this is a later work and Columbia was nothing more than a distant memory at this point in his career.
Thanks John.
At the moment I'm listening to 'Facsimile' - one of my favourite works by Bernstein. I especially like this CD as it also features Bernstein's St Louis SO recording of the marvellous 'Jeremiah Symphony' which I was very fortunate to hear live at the Proms last year.:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 06:40:36 AM
Very cool, Jeffrey. 8) I don’t know that recording --- is it in mono?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 06:41:06 AM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Bernstein
Chichester Psalms
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Wiener Jeunesse-Chor
Leonard Bernstein


(https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/e40fb0a7-90de-4140-957d-f2fd782042d9_1.9698df3ff904bcaec1ae385e398d7dc5.jpeg?odnWidth=450&odnHeight=450&odnBg=ffffff)

What an incredible piece of music this is! This performance has more weight to it than the earlier one on Columbia and this benefits this work, especially in the final movement. Also, the recording standards by this time have improved significantly, so many of the details that don’t quite present themselves in the Columbia performance are brought into the fore in this DG remake. A stunning achievement from all-involved. There’s nothing self-indulgent or self-important about this performance and I laugh at San Antone’s criticism of Bernstein’s later remakes of his music on DG because, if anything, they demonstrate a man who has grown and lived with the music for a longer time. These DG remakes are just as inspired as his earlier performances and for the Bernstein fan, this DG box set is an essential acquisition, IMHO.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 07:07:15 AM
Very cool, Jeffrey. 8) I don’t know that recording --- is it in mono?
I guess so John as the recordings come from the 1940s but Dutton have done a terrific job with the re-mastering. You also get the On the Town ballet music and Ravel's Piano Concerto thrown in.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 07:11:57 AM
I guess so John as the recordings come from the 1940s but Dutton have done a terrific job with the re-mastering. You also get the On the Town ballet music and Ravel's Piano Concerto thrown in.

Cool, Jeffrey. I’m not too fond of recordings from the 1940s and back. Given the advancements of technology and performance standards, this recording wouldn’t be something I’m interested in.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 07:19:18 AM
Cool, Jeffrey. I’m not too fond of recordings from the 1940s and back. Given the advancements of technology and performance standards, this recording wouldn’t be something I’m interested in.
Fair enough John but it features very fine performances of 'Jeremiah' and 'Facsimile' - the CD gets played a lot here.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 07:30:48 AM
Fair enough John but it features very fine performances of 'Jeremiah' and 'Facsimile' - the CD gets played a lot here.

Well, I have two conducted performances of both of those works from the man himself (Sony and DG), so I don’t really need any others, also I have a strong preference for Bernstein’s DG recordings for not only the insight he brings to the music but for the fact that there were many works that you can’t get in the different Sony sets that have been released, because they were newer works written during his time on DG.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 07:34:21 AM
This is shaping up to be a purchase of the year for sure:

(https://i5.walmartimages.com/asr/e40fb0a7-90de-4140-957d-f2fd782042d9_1.9698df3ff904bcaec1ae385e398d7dc5.jpeg?odnWidth=450&odnHeight=450&odnBg=ffffff)

I have several single issues and a Bernstein Conducts Bernstein set on DG, but nothing truly ‘complete’. It’s nice to have Candide, On the Town, Peter Pan, A Quiet Place, among other theater works that I didn’t own previously.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 07:52:01 AM
Well, I have two conducted performances of both of those works from the man himself (Sony and DG), so I don’t really need any others, also I have a strong preference for Bernstein’s DG recordings for not only the insight he brings to the music but for the fact that there were many works that you can’t get in the different Sony sets that have been released, because they were newer works written during his time on DG.
Just ordered this John. Any views on it?
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 08:06:28 AM
Just ordered this John. Any views on it?
(https://www.good-music-guide.com/community/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=12455.0;attach=61901;image)

I have no idea, Jeffrey. I don’t own it. Zimerman is an excellent pianist.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 08:38:33 AM
I have no idea, Jeffrey. I don’t own it. Zimerman is an excellent pianist.
Ok John. I'll report back in due course.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 08:44:23 AM
Ok John. I'll report back in due course.

I’ll let you know, too, since I just bought it as well. ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 08:46:14 AM
I’ll let you know, too, since I just bought it as well. ;)
LOL :)  :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 08:53:21 AM
LOL :)  :)

The audio samples sounded fantastic, Jeffrey, so I just couldn’t resist.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 11:43:39 AM
The audio samples sounded fantastic, Jeffrey, so I just couldn’t resist.

Interesting review here John:
https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/bernstein-symphony-no-2-the-age-of-anxiety-rattle
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 08, 2020, 11:47:20 AM
Interesting review here John:
https://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/bernstein-symphony-no-2-the-age-of-anxiety-rattle

Thanks, Jeffrey. Just finished reading it. This is a phenomenal piece of music, IMHO and shows that Bernstein could write just about anything he wanted to but as with the ’Jeremiah’ Symphony, it shows that he clearly wasn’t a composer who could only write works like On the Town or Fancy Free. This is a serious work worth serious consideration and thought.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 11:52:59 AM
Thanks, Jeffrey. Just finished reading it. This is a phenomenal piece of music, IMHO and shows that Bernstein could write just about anything he wanted to but as with the ’Jeremiah’ Symphony, it shows that he clearly wasn’t a composer who could only write works like On the Town or Fancy Free. This is a serious work worth serious consideration and thought.
Very much agree John.
I have this fine set and saw these forces perform 'Jeremiah' Symphony at the Proms last year:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 08, 2020, 12:50:47 PM

I have this fine set and saw these forces perform 'Jeremiah' Symphony at the Proms last year:


That Pappano recording is generally very good, and it is nice to have all three symphonies in one place.  While I think Zimerman's Age is the better performance, Beatrice Rana carries it off nicely. And I think the narrator on this recording, Josephine Barstow, handles this difficult recitation in "Kaddish" about as well as it can be done.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/914qquJlzNL._SY355_.jpg)

An added bonus is the Prelude, fugue and riffs.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 08, 2020, 01:09:21 PM
That Pappano recording is generally very good, and it is nice to have all three symphonies in one place.  While I think Zimerman's Age is the better performance, Beatrice Rana carries it off nicely. And I think the narrator on this recording, Josephine Barstow, handles this difficult recitation in "Kaddish" about as well as it can be done.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/914qquJlzNL._SY355_.jpg)

An added bonus is the Prelude, fugue and riffs.

 8)
Good to know. I haven't heard 'Kaddish' yet from this set so I must give it a spin. I'm looking forward to receiving the Zimerman. I remember at the live Prom concert I attended last year the short extract from Haydn's 'Creation' morphed into the opening of the 'Jeremiah Symphony' which really took me by surprise as I'd never witnessed that practice before.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 09, 2020, 11:48:41 AM
From WAYLTN
Arrived today. Sounds like a wonderfully reflective and beautifully recorded performance, unlike any other version I have heard. There is something very special about it. The CD is quite short at under 40 minutes but it was not expensive and I'm very pleased to have it. At the start there is a short extract from an interview with Leonard Bernstein and his biographer Humphrey Burton in which he discusses 'The Age of Anxiety'. The redemptive ending ('the rediscovery of faith') is especially affecting in this performance.

Edward Hopper's terrific painting 'Nighthawks' is included in the booklet which is a nice touch as it was partly an inspiration for the opening of the work.
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2020, 06:53:55 AM
Very nice, Jeffrey. Symphony No. 2, “Age of Anxiety” is an outstanding work. It should be a part of the mainstream concert repertoire. I’ve read it’s pretty demanding on the soloist as is Serenade, after Plato's Symposium.

In other news, there are several documentaries on Bernstein that I’m interested in watching that came in my DG and Naxos sets: The Making of West Side Story, The Gift Of Music, and Larger Than Life. Has anyone seen any of these documentaries?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2020, 07:39:47 AM
From WAYLTN
Arrived today. Sounds like a wonderfully reflective and beautifully recorded performance, unlike any other version I have heard. There is something very special about it. The CD is quite short at under 40 minutes but it was not expensive and I'm very pleased to have it. At the start there is a short extract from an interview with Leonard Bernstein and his biographer Humphrey Burton in which he discusses 'The Age of Anxiety'. The redemptive ending ('the rediscovery of faith') is especially affecting in this performance.

Edward Hopper's terrific painting 'Nighthawks' is included in the booklet which is a nice touch as it was partly an inspiration for the opening of the work.
(http://)

As you might guess, I am a fan of that painting, and of Edward Hopper's work in general.   ;)   I agree with your comments about that recording.  It is my opinion that Bernstein as a composer will ultimately be his legacy.  I just wish he had written more large scale works.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2020, 07:46:19 AM
It is my opinion that Bernstein as a composer will ultimately be his legacy.  I just wish he had written more large scale works.

 8)

I hope you’re right! As it stands right now, there are listeners that are only aware of works like West Side Story or Candide and that’s it. They don’t know the enormous range of his compositions. If they heard a work like Halil or Chichester Psalms, they will be surprised.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2020, 08:40:29 AM
Cool trailer for Pappano’s recording of the complete Bernstein symphonies:

https://www.youtube.com/v/2Ug9VRzU570
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 10, 2020, 08:45:50 AM
As you might guess, I am a fan of that painting, and of Edward Hopper's work in general.   ;)   I agree with your comments about that recording.  It is my opinion that Bernstein as a composer will ultimately be his legacy.  I just wish he had written more large scale works.

 8)

Yes, my Sherlock Holmes-type detective skills suggested that you might be a fan of the painting - I am one myself and of Hopper's work generally. I also wish that Bernstein had written more large-scale orchestral works. Apparently he thought that 'The Age of Anxiety' was his finest orchestral work, although I'm also a great admirer of 'Jeremiah' Symphony.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2020, 08:47:17 AM
Yes, my Sherlock Holmes-type detective skills suggested that you might be a fan of the painting - I am one myself and of Hopper's work generally. I also wish that Bernstein had written more large-scale orchestral works. Apparently he thought that 'The Age of Anxiety' was his finest orchestral work, although I'm also a great admirer of 'Jeremiah' Symphony.

What have you explored/enjoyed beyond the symphonies, Jeffrey?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 10, 2020, 10:13:47 AM
What have you explored/enjoyed beyond the symphonies, Jeffrey?
Let me think John. I love Facsimile and have numerous recordings. I also like 'On the Waterfront' and 'Symphonic Dances from West Side Story' which, like the Jeremiah Symphony, I have had the pleasure of seeing live many decades ago. I remember that the bongo drum player, unlike the rest of the orchestra, wore a blue frilly shirt. My Jewish friend Anthony, with whom I attended the concert, said 'he looks like a Jewish caterer' - which made me laugh. He was a terrific player of the bongo drums. I guess that he was imported from a jazz band. I'm not so keen on the much admired 'Chichester Psalms' which I find oddly cloying but I know how much you like this work. Many critics rate the 'Serenade on Plato's Symposium' as Bernstein's orchestral masterpiece. I enjoy it but prefer the first two symphonies. The works I need to explore more this year are the Mass and the 'Kaddish' Symphony. Look forward to hearing your views on the Zimerman recording of 'The Age of Anxiety'. As a child my favourite movie was 'West Side Story' which my parents took me to see. I also like the orchestral music from 'On the Town'.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on January 10, 2020, 01:23:30 PM
I am interested in the music of Bernstein. He's one of my favorite conductors and I have no doubt that he's a great composer. I don't like campy music, Broadway showtunes, or anything like that, so I'm ruling out the likes of West Side Story as an entry point for me into his music. Outside of that, I don't really know where to start. The symphonies, perhaps? I see there are recordings from the composer himself on both Sony and DG, as well as recordings conducted by his later-in-life protégé, Marin Alsop, on Naxos, one of my favorite labels.

I have this one disc that I've heard a few times:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81ACvhkTOrL._SL1416_.jpg)

... but it never left much an impression on me. I'll have to listen again. Outside of that, I may have to try and pick up a CD with a symphony or two of his.

I saw a Bernstein work live this time last year: Three Meditations from Mass for solo cello and orchestra. It was killer! Is there a CD out there with a good performance of it?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Brewski on January 10, 2020, 01:39:20 PM
I am interested in the music of Bernstein. He's one of my favorite conductors and I have no doubt that he's a great composer. I don't like campy music, Broadway showtunes, or anything like that, so I'm ruling out the likes of West Side Story as an entry point for me into his music. Outside of that, I don't really know where to start. The symphonies, perhaps? I see there are recordings from the composer himself on both Sony and DG, as well as recordings conducted by his later-in-life protégé, Marin Alsop, on Naxos, one of my favorite labels.

I have this one disc that I've heard a few times:

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/81ACvhkTOrL._SL1416_.jpg)

... but it never left much an impression on me. I'll have to listen again. Outside of that, I may have to try and pick up a CD with a symphony or two of his.

I saw a Bernstein work live this time last year: Three Meditations from Mass for solo cello and orchestra. It was killer! Is there a CD out there with a good performance of it?

That looks like a great disc, for many reasons, so yes, perhaps give it another chance? I especially love On the Waterfront (such a great film, too), but have only heard Bernstein's 1960s recording with the New York Philharmonic, which is a classic.

Otherwise, I can only echo some of the earlier recs from John, Jeffrey, San Antone, and others.

--Bruce
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on January 10, 2020, 01:55:15 PM
That looks like a great disc, for many reasons, so yes, perhaps give it another chance? I especially love On the Waterfront (such a great film, too), but have only heard Bernstein's 1960s recording with the New York Philharmonic, which is a classic.

Otherwise, I can only echo some of the earlier recs from John, Jeffrey, San Antone, and others.

--Bruce

Listening to the Psalms now. Really good stuff, unique. The third movement is especially beautiful. One can definitely hear the influence of Mahler, and Stravinsky, but again, it's very unique stuff.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2020, 02:13:27 PM
Listening to the Psalms now. Really good stuff, unique. The third movement is especially beautiful. One can definitely hear the influence of Mahler, and Stravinsky, but again, it's very unique stuff.

I think the Alsop Naxos recordings are a very good place to start, she's recorded a lot of his music and Naxos has collected her recordings into a nice box set.  His solo piano music is very interesting as is his chamber music, although there isn't much of it. You can find several recordings of the complete solo piano music and I know of at least one which also includes the chamber music.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91KVCGK-mIL._SS500_.jpg) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/images/records/pianoclassicspcl10174.jpg?1548944757) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_300/4260085539307.jpg?1541058867)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 10, 2020, 03:01:06 PM
I think the Alsop Naxos recordings are a very good place to start, she's recorded a lot of his music and Naxos has collected her recordings into a nice box set.  His solo piano music is very interesting as is his chamber music, although there isn't much of it. You can find several recordings of the complete solo piano music and I know of at least one which also includes the chamber music.

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91KVCGK-mIL._SS500_.jpg) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/images/records/pianoclassicspcl10174.jpg?1548944757) (https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_300/4260085539307.jpg?1541058867)
Those look like very good recommendations. I think very highly of Alsop's recording of the 'Jeremiah' and 'Age of Anxiety' symphonies - a fabulous disc:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on January 10, 2020, 05:35:39 PM
Those look like very good recommendations. I think very highly of Alsop's recording of the 'Jeremiah' and 'Age of Anxiety' symphonies - a fabulous disc:
(http://)

That looks great. Added to the wishlist. I wonder, though, how prominent is the piano in the "Age of Anxiety" symphony? I think it's kind of funny that there's a big picture-in-picture of Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the cover. Is it a concertante work for piano and orchestra, or is the piano just another instrument in the texture?

Anyway, speaking of piano, that Tozzetti solo piano disc also looks great. I will check it out.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 10, 2020, 06:34:18 PM
That looks great. Added to the wishlist. I wonder, though, how prominent is the piano in the "Age of Anxiety" symphony? I think it's kind of funny that there's a big picture-in-picture of Jean-Yves Thibaudet on the cover. Is it a concertante work for piano and orchestra, or is the piano just another instrument in the texture?

Anyway, speaking of piano, that Tozzetti solo piano disc also looks great. I will check it out.

The piano in Age has a prominent role, and depending upon the performer it either makes or breaks the recording.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 10, 2020, 08:52:20 PM
Let me think John. I love Facsimile and have numerous recordings. I also like 'On the Waterfront' and 'Symphonic Dances from West Side Story' which, like the Jeremiah Symphony, I have had the pleasure of seeing live many decades ago. I remember that the bongo drum player, unlike the rest of the orchestra, wore a blue frilly shirt. My Jewish friend Anthony, with whom I attended the concert, said 'he looks like a Jewish caterer' - which made me laugh. He was a terrific player of the bongo drums. I guess that he was imported from a jazz band. I'm not so keen on the much admired 'Chichester Psalms' which I find oddly cloying but I know how much you like this work. Many critics rate the 'Serenade on Plato's Symposium' as Bernstein's orchestral masterpiece. I enjoy it but prefer the first two symphonies. The works I need to explore more this year are the Mass and the 'Kaddish' Symphony. Look forward to hearing your views on the Zimerman recording of 'The Age of Anxiety'. As a child my favourite movie was 'West Side Story' which my parents took me to see. I also like the orchestral music from 'On the Town'.

Looks like you know quite a few works. Do you know Fancy Free, Halil, Divertimento, Arias & Barcarolles, Missa Brevis, Dybbuk, Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, the solo piano music, or the chamber music? Do you own a Bernstein box set? On the Town and West Side Story are fantastic. I love those works. I’m really coming around to Mass --- some great stuff in this work. Marin Alsop said something interesting in the Bernstein documentary Larger Than Life when he she created a parallel between Mahler’s 8th and Bernstein’s Mass. She said this was his defining moment as a composer.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 10, 2020, 11:47:40 PM
Looks like you know quite a few works. Do you know Fancy Free, Halil, Divertimento, Arias & Barcarolles, Missa Brevis, Dybbuk, Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, the solo piano music, or the chamber music? Do you own a Bernstein box set? On the Town and West Side Story are fantastic. I love those works. I’m really coming around to Mass --- some great stuff in this work. Marin Alsop said something interesting in the Bernstein documentary Larger Than Life when he she created a parallel between Mahler’s 8th and Bernstein’s Mass. She said this was his defining moment as a composer.

I really enjoy almost everything Bernstein wrote.  The bad news for people who think Musical Theatre/Broadway is schmaltz or whatever I suspect (rightly or wrongly) West Side Story will be the most enduring of all his work.  It is a work of genius.  As with all musicals - the book and perhaps even aspects of the storyline have dated but the music is a minor miracle.  The Original Cast Recording (NOT NOT NOT the film recording) is one of the all time great cast recordings - the energy leaping out of the speakers to this day.  Also - the (in)famous Bernstein studio remake with Carerras et al needs to be avoided except to hear some excellent session musicians.  The bit that makes me cringe most is NOT Carerras unable to swing or pronounce the words - its Marilyn Horne wobbling her way through "Somewhere".  If ever you needed an example of hubris its that - don't tell me for a second that Bernstein in the mid-50's conceived that song for such a matronly overtly operatic sound - its an aberration.

Recordings wise I find I keep coming back to Bernstein's own original 1960's recordings.  For sure they might be technically challenged as recordings compared to the finest today but they blaze with the joy of first acquaintance.  NOBODY has made Symphony 3's narration sound as compelling/personal/moving as Montealegre.  The 1st recording of Mass remains the finest - Alsop's is distorted by the vocally preening Jubilant Sykes and the recent DG from Cleveland is simply poor.  The Chandos recording from Germany is probably the best of the rest. Mass is a piece of its time without doubt but I have always loved it.  Dybbuk is a harder sell - I'm not sure Bernstein as an intellectual composer is at his best.

One almost ignored disc of Bernstein pops was on the RPO/Tring label with Carl Davis - remarkably good playing and engineering and copies can be found for pence.  I have NOT heard Pappano's take on the symphonies or the recent Rattle No.2.  I have so much Bernstein on disc - I'll wait for a bargain bin!

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81XVaihzVtL._AC_UY218_ML3_.jpg)

For me the issue with Bernstein's own re-makes for DG are twofold; the mainly used Israel PO simply are not as good/in the swing of the Bernstein genre as the 1960's NYPO and also Bernstein seems too self-consciously creating his "legacy" - the interpretations strive to be 'bigger' more significant.  Using the Vienna Boys Choir for Chichester Psalms is just wrong.  I love Christa Ludwig - one of my all time favourite singers - but not in Jeremiah.

Alsop is a safe modern alternative and for completeness one to consider but I do not find her to be the last-word in Bernstein in any way.  Aside from the original CBS recordings I tend to cherry pick the other works where multiple versions exist.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 10, 2020, 11:48:54 PM
Looks like you know quite a few works. Do you know Fancy Free, Halil, Divertimento, Arias & Barcarolles, Missa Brevis, Dybbuk, Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, the solo piano music, or the chamber music? Do you own a Bernstein box set? On the Town and West Side Story are fantastic. I love those works. I’m really coming around to Mass --- some great stuff in this work. Marin Alsop said something interesting in the Bernstein documentary Larger Than Life when he she created a parallel between Mahler’s 8th and Bernstein’s Mass. She said this was his defining moment as a composer.
Interesting John. You kindly provided a link to 'Halil' which I hope to listen to over the weekend. There is quite a lot that I don't know (the solo piano music for example). I have the fine boxed set illustrated below. Clearly I need to listen to works other that 'Jeremiah', 'The Age of Anxiety' and Facsimile! Did you listen to the Zimerman CD yet?
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2020, 06:42:11 AM
I really enjoy almost everything Bernstein wrote.  The bad news for people who think Musical Theatre/Broadway is schmaltz or whatever I suspect (rightly or wrongly) West Side Story will be the most enduring of all his work.  It is a work of genius.  As with all musicals - the book and perhaps even aspects of the storyline have dated but the music is a minor miracle.  The Original Cast Recording (NOT NOT NOT the film recording) is one of the all time great cast recordings - the energy leaping out of the speakers to this day.  Also - the (in)famous Bernstein studio remake with Carerras et al needs to be avoided except to hear some excellent session musicians.  The bit that makes me cringe most is NOT Carerras unable to swing or pronounce the words - its Marilyn Horne wobbling her way through "Somewhere".  If ever you needed an example of hubris its that - don't tell me for a second that Bernstein in the mid-50's conceived that song for such a matronly overtly operatic sound - its an aberration.

Recordings wise I find I keep coming back to Bernstein's own original 1960's recordings.  For sure they might be technically challenged as recordings compared to the finest today but they blaze with the joy of first acquaintance.  NOBODY has made Symphony 3's narration sound as compelling/personal/moving as Montealegre.  The 1st recording of Mass remains the finest - Alsop's is distorted by the vocally preening Jubilant Sykes and the recent DG from Cleveland is simply poor.  The Chandos recording from Germany is probably the best of the rest. Mass is a piece of its time without doubt but I have always loved it.  Dybbuk is a harder sell - I'm not sure Bernstein as an intellectual composer is at his best.

One almost ignored disc of Bernstein pops was on the RPO/Tring label with Carl Davis - remarkably good playing and engineering and copies can be found for pence.  I have NOT heard Pappano's take on the symphonies or the recent Rattle No.2.  I have so much Bernstein on disc - I'll wait for a bargain bin!

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81XVaihzVtL._AC_UY218_ML3_.jpg)

For me the issue with Bernstein's own re-makes for DG are twofold; the mainly used Israel PO simply are not as good/in the swing of the Bernstein genre as the 1960's NYPO and also Bernstein seems too self-consciously creating his "legacy" - the interpretations strive to be 'bigger' more significant.  Using the Vienna Boys Choir for Chichester Psalms is just wrong.  I love Christa Ludwig - one of my all time favourite singers - but not in Jeremiah.

Alsop is a safe modern alternative and for completeness one to consider but I do not find her to be the last-word in Bernstein in any way.  Aside from the original CBS recordings I tend to cherry pick the other works where multiple versions exist.

Good to hear you’re a fan of Bernstein’s own music. Unlike you, I really enjoy his DG remakes and the DG set is invaluable for the newer works that Bernstein wrote towards the end of his life like Halil, Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, among others. I love both all facets of Bernstein’s music whether he’s writing a broadway a la West Side Story or On the Town or writing serious concert music like the ’Jeremiah’ Symphony or the Serenade. He was immensely gifted and had a penchant for writing memorable melodies (amongst other things).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 11, 2020, 06:45:36 AM
Interesting John. You kindly provided a link to 'Halil' which I hope to listen to over the weekend. There is quite a lot that I don't know (the solo piano music for example). I have the fine boxed set illustrated below. Clearly I need to listen to works other that 'Jeremiah', 'The Age of Anxiety' and Facsimile! Did you listen to the Zimerman CD yet?
(http://)

Yes, please do give a listen to Halil. No, I haven’t listened to the Zimernan recording yet. I received it yesterday and probably won’t be until next week until I get around to it. I’ve got several recordings I need to listen to before I listen to this one. I really want to hear Pappano’s and Alsop’s recordings first. I owned a few of Alsop’s recordings but I didn’t own her whole series, which is why I bought her box set.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 12, 2020, 01:38:18 PM
Good to hear you’re a fan of Bernstein’s own music. Unlike you, I really enjoy his DG remakes and the DG set is invaluable for the newer works that Bernstein wrote towards the end of his life like Halil, Concerto for Orchestra, “Jubilee Games”, among others. I love both all facets of Bernstein’s music whether he’s writing a broadway a la West Side Story or On the Town or writing serious concert music like the ’Jeremiah’ Symphony or the Serenade. He was immensely gifted and had a penchant for writing memorable melodies (amongst other things).

Of course you are right about the value of the DG remakes adding music previously unrecorded by Bernstein himself.  But do you really consider the Israel PO to be a match for the feisty NYPO!!??  And this music needs to be feisty.  Just to be clear I own ALL the CBS and DG and Naxos recordings so I am a sad completist in this!  About the only work I have consistently given up on is "A Quiet Place" - I find my mind wandering.  Should I try harder?!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 12, 2020, 07:58:34 PM
Of course you are right about the value of the DG remakes adding music previously unrecorded by Bernstein himself.  But do you really consider the Israel PO to be a match for the feisty NYPO!!??  And this music needs to be feisty.  Just to be clear I own ALL the CBS and DG and Naxos recordings so I am a sad completist in this!  About the only work I have consistently given up on is "A Quiet Place" - I find my mind wandering.  Should I try harder?!

I don’t really think in terms of the New York Philharmonic vs. Israel Philharmonic, because the orchestra is merely the tool for the conductor to get his ideas across while the compositions themselves are the springboard. I don’t think all of Bernstein’s music needs to be feisty. I think it needs to be able to communicate and whether I’m listening to Bernstein in London or in Tel Aviv, he was always able to get his ideas across in a viable, fresh way no matter his age. I love his Columbia and DG recordings and I wouldn’t want to be without either.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2020, 05:20:54 PM
I listened to the Kaddish symphony today (Columbia) recording and I’m blown away by it! I’m not sure what my previous opinion was of the symphony, although, looking back, it was probably dismissive because of the narration. Now, I couldn’t imagine this work without its’ narration. What makes or breaks a narration is how it’s incorporated into the work itself. I like music to be written around the narration, but, most of the time, the music comes to a halt, but not in the Kaddish! There’s not a lot of narration in this symphony anyway or really enough to be bothered by. The vocal writing is superb and I love how the work goes from almost brutalist, anarchic orchestral bombast to a sweet diatonic lyricism. It’s these juxtapositions in styles that I find highly attractive in Bernstein’s music and why works like Mass have been rightfully celebrated. He was doing polystylism before Schnittke, but, of course, Mahler was doing it before these composers.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 15, 2020, 05:39:57 PM
I listened to the Kaddish symphony today (Columbia) recording and I’m blown away by it! I’m not sure what my previous opinion was of the symphony, although, looking back, it was probably dismissive because of the narration. Now, I couldn’t imagine this work without its’ narration. What makes or breaks a narration is how it’s incorporated into the work itself. I like music to be written around the narration, but, most of the time, the music comes to a halt, but not in the Kaddish! There’s not a lot of narration in this symphony anyway or really enough to be bothered by. The vocal writing is superb and I love how the work goes from almost brutalist, anarchic orchestral bombast to a sweet diatonic lyricism. It’s these juxtapositions in styles that I find highly attractive in Bernstein’s music and why works like Mass have been rightfully celebrated. He was doing polystylism before Schnittke, but, of course, Mahler was doing it before these composers.

(https://cdn4.vectorstock.com/i/1000x1000/59/53/icon-clapping-hands-black-and-white-vector-14295953.jpg)

Kaddish is a Bernstein work that I also pair with Mass.  They both incorporate a stylistic palette and both have been (at various times) dismissed by the "critics," but I think critical opinion is coming around.

Glad you connected with it!

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2020, 06:19:19 PM
(https://cdn4.vectorstock.com/i/1000x1000/59/53/icon-clapping-hands-black-and-white-vector-14295953.jpg)

Kaddish is a Bernstein work that I also pare with Mass.  They both incorporate a stylistic palette and both have been (at various times) dismissed by the "critics," but I think critical opinion is coming around.

Glad you connected with it!

 8)

Thanks, San Antone. I plan on revisiting the work again soon. I’ve read a good bit about the work on the Bernstein website --- most informative.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2020, 06:33:54 PM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -

Bernstein
Symphony No. 2, “The Age of Anxiety”
Zimerman
Rattle
Berliners


(https://d27t0qkxhe4r68.cloudfront.net/t_900/28948355433.jpg?1555937116)

First impressions, this is a more nuanced performance and the lyrical aspects of the music are brought to the fore. This isn’t to say there isn’t some fireworks happening, but it seems the work is on a completely different scale than I previously imagined. San Antone mentioned on the Bernstein thread that a pianist can ‘make or break’ a performance of this work, well, let me say that Zimerman delivers the goods in spades. Rattle and the Berliners also sound at home in this idiom. I’m not sure how much the Berliners have played Bernstein’s music in the past, but it can’t be too much. Between the recent Rana/Pappano recording and this one, I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite. They’re both so damn good.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 15, 2020, 07:18:19 PM
Have you heard this Zimerman/Rattle performance of The Age of Anxiety, San Antone? I’m on my second listen right now and I find the performance to be superb. Everything is captured to great effect by the sound engineers as well.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 15, 2020, 11:07:25 PM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread -
Good to hear your views John. You've encouraged me to listen to 'Kaddish' again.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 16, 2020, 05:56:28 AM
Have you heard this Zimerman/Rattle performance of The Age of Anxiety, San Antone? I’m on my second listen right now and I find the performance to be superb. Everything is captured to great effect by the sound engineers as well.

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  ;) .
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 16, 2020, 07:32:39 AM
Good to hear your views John. You've encouraged me to listen to 'Kaddish' again.

Jeffrey, you should definitely listen to the non-symphonic works of Bernstein. Give Chichester Psalms another chance. Songfest is also worth your time.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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:

https://www.youtube.com/v/yjyOL9AiDR0
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan 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.....

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81J6TyDo6tL._SS500_.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.....

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/81J6TyDo6tL._SS500_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan 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;

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91Hv-PYBBeL._SS500_.jpg)

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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone 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;

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91Hv-PYBBeL._SS500_.jpg)

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. 
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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;

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91Hv-PYBBeL._SS500_.jpg)

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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone 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.

(https://reviews.azureedge.net/gramophone/media-thumbnails/bernstein_quiet_place.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.

(https://reviews.azureedge.net/gramophone/media-thumbnails/bernstein_quiet_place.jpg)

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. ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone 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)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan 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;

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/q-sAAOSw4ARcvzd8/s-l640.jpg)

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.....

(http://i.imgur.com/Ku9xPut.jpg)

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

(https://img.cdandlp.com/2018/04/imgL/119126153.jpg)

(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.....

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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;

(https://i.ebayimg.com/images/g/q-sAAOSw4ARcvzd8/s-l640.jpg)

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.....

(http://i.imgur.com/Ku9xPut.jpg)

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

(https://img.cdandlp.com/2018/04/imgL/119126153.jpg)

(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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen 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?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image 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.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan 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!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 22, 2020, 11:30:10 AM
thankyou - I will!
OT

RS

I've just fully taken in  your 'Merry Maker Excursion' avatar photo which is very funny.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2020, 11:43:37 AM
Has anyone heard these recordings of Age of Anxiety?  What can you say about them?

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51njsdWQYIL.jpg)

The Ulster Orchestra, Marc-André Hamelin

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51lEl7JTu7L.jpg)

NYPO, Alan Gilbert, Makato Ozone

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BXVBYRnYL.jpg)

James Tocco, Leonard Slatkin, BBC Symphony Orchestra

The Slatkin is probably on Spotify, but the other two are unavailable to stream.  I like all the other works included with Bernstein's Sym2.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 11:48:42 AM
Has anyone heard these recordings of Age of Anxiety?  What can you say about them?

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51njsdWQYIL.jpg)

The Ulster Orchestra, Marc-André Hamelin

This one is pretty good but it pales in comparison with the Zimerman/Rattle I heard many nights ago. To be honest, I think I’m good with recordings of this work. I mean I’ve got Zimerman/Rattle, Rana/Pappano, Entremont/Bernstein, Foss/Bernstein, Hamelin/Sitkovetsky, and Thibaudet/Alsop.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2020, 11:55:13 AM
Cross-posted from WAYL2 thread

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/91KVCGK-mIL._SS500_.jpg)

Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"
Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Marin Alsop, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

I can't decide if I like this version better than the Zimerman/Rattle account.  I've never been a fan of Simon Rattle, and Marin Alsop usually is an excellent Bernstein interpreter.  Finally, Thibaudet has a real affinity for American composers, I think highy of his Rhapsody in Blue, and as I expect will be his playing this Bernstein work.

This one [Hamelin] is pretty good but it pales in comparison with the Zimerman/Rattle I heard many nights ago. To be honest, I think I’m good with recordings of this work. I mean I’ve got Zimerman/Rattle, Rana/Pappano, Entremont/Bernstein, Foss/Bernstein, Hamelin/Sitkovetsky, and Thibaudet/Alsop.

See my remarks above - I like Thibaudet/Alsop, maybe better than Zimerman/Rattle.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 11:59:36 AM
Cross-posted from WAYL2 thread

See my remarks above - I like Thibaudet/Alsop, maybe better than Zimerman/Rattle.

I haven’t heard the Thibaudet/Alsop performance yet, but coming off the high I received from the Zimerman/Rattle, I’m sure my opinion will be more than colored by this fantastic listening experience.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on January 22, 2020, 02:10:26 PM
I probably posted about this recently in another thread, but I just got the Thibaudet/Alsop/Baltimore recording of the Age of Anxiety, and when I opened the package I saw that the CD had been signed by Marin Alsop.  :o
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2020, 02:30:06 PM
I probably posted about this recently in another thread, but I just got the Thibaudet/Alsop/Baltimore recording of the Age of Anxiety, and when I opened the package I saw that the CD had been signed by Marin Alsop.  :o

Good for you!

TD

(https://cdn.shoplightspeed.com/shops/608286/files/9728732/image.jpg)

Missa Brevis

First listen. 
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 06:57:51 PM
(https://cdn.shoplightspeed.com/shops/608286/files/9728732/image.jpg)

Missa Brevis

First listen.

What do you think about this work, San Antone? Surprised to see it’s a first-listen.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 07:34:36 PM
I probably posted about this recently in another thread, but I just got the Thibaudet/Alsop/Baltimore recording of the Age of Anxiety, and when I opened the package I saw that the CD had been signed by Marin Alsop.  :o

That’s awesome, vers la flamme. Something similar happened to me as I bought a CD of Argerich with Dutoit conducting and both musicians signed the disc, although, in hindsight, I wish Dutoit hadn’t signed the disc. He’s a grade A sleaze bag.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2020, 07:47:44 PM
What do you think about this work, San Antone? Surprised to see it’s a first-listen.

I liked it, and read a little about its origin.  Will have to listen to it more before I can form a true opinion.  He completed it just a year before he died and never recorded it himself - which is too bad, but Alsop does a good job.  The percussion parts are optional except for the chimes and bells.  I'd like to hear a more stripped down version if one exists.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 07:51:22 PM
I liked it, and read a little about its origin.  Will have to listen to it more before I can form a true opinion.  He completed it just a year before he died and never recorded it himself - which is too bad, but Alsop does a good job.  The percussion parts are optional except for the chimes and bells.  I'd like to hear a more stripped down version if one exists.

Very nice. That’s too bad Lenny didn’t record it. The only other performances of this work available in terms of commercial recordings besides Alsop’s are Leonard Slatkin and Robert Shaw.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 22, 2020, 07:55:13 PM
Very nice. That’s too bad Lenny didn’t record it. The only other performances of this work available in terms of commercial recordings besides Alsop’s are Leonard Slatkin and Robert Shaw.

Robert Shaw was instrumental in the piece getting written, but it took something like 35 years for Bernstein to follow through.  I will try to find those recordings and listen to them, hopefully without buying them.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 22, 2020, 07:56:52 PM
Robert Shaw was instrumental in the piece getting written, but it took something like 35 years for Bernstein to follow through.  I will try to find those recordings and listen to them, hopefully without buying them.

 8)

Bernstein was a busy man. So many obligations, so little time.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 22, 2020, 11:14:09 PM
Has anyone heard these recordings of Age of Anxiety?  What can you say about them?

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51njsdWQYIL.jpg)

The Ulster Orchestra, Marc-André Hamelin

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51lEl7JTu7L.jpg)

NYPO, Alan Gilbert, Makato Ozone

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BXVBYRnYL.jpg)

James Tocco, Leonard Slatkin, BBC Symphony Orchestra

The Slatkin is probably on Spotify, but the other two are unavailable to stream.  I like all the other works included with Bernstein's Sym2.
I liked the Hyperion CD (also for the Bolcom work) but I agree with John (MI) that the recent DGG release of 'The Age of Anxiety' is in a class of its own. I do, however, strongly recommend Slatkin's Chandos disc of the first two symphonies. If I wanted a CD of those fine scores on one disc I'd be happy with that CD of two fine performances. The Alsop Naxos CD is also very good in my view if you want modern recordings. I don't know the other CD. If you just want The Age of Anxiety go for the Zimerman disc.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 23, 2020, 03:22:40 AM
OT

RS

I've just fully taken in  your 'Merry Maker Excursion' avatar photo which is very funny.

Glad you like the avatar picture - it helps me channel some Eric Coates as well as making me laugh every tome I look at it!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on January 23, 2020, 03:38:42 AM
That’s awesome, vers la flamme. Something similar happened to me as I bought a CD of Argerich with Dutoit conducting and both musicians signed the disc, although, in hindsight, I wish Dutoit hadn’t signed the disc. He’s a grade A sleaze bag.

Agreed! Damn fine conductor, but I can't even listen to his music on account of his horrific (alleged) actions and, worse, his complete unrepentance. Anyway, I am a huge fan of Martha Argerich (Dutoit's former wife, and they did have great chemistry together musically speaking) so that is amazing that you got a signature from her.

Anyway, I still have yet to listen to that disc with the symphonies, so I will refrain from posting further here and cluttering the thread until I get around to it.  ;D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 23, 2020, 04:42:33 AM
I liked the Hyperion CD (also for the Bolcom work) but I agree with John (MI) that the recent DGG release of 'The Age of Anxiety' is in a class of its own. I do, however, strongly recommend Slatkin's Chandos disc of the first two symphonies. If I wanted a CD of those fine scores on one disc I'd be happy with that CD of two fine performances. The Alsop Naxos CD is also very good in my view if you want modern recordings. I don't know the other CD. If you just want The Age of Anxiety go for the Zimerman disc.

I know the Zimerman disc and agree it is very good, but rate the Thibaudet/Alsop high as well.  I listened to the Slatkin/Chandos CD last night and will probably purchase the Hamelin/Hyperion disc at some point.

Thanks for your comments.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 23, 2020, 07:38:52 AM
Robert Shaw was instrumental in the piece getting written, but it took something like 35 years for Bernstein to follow through.  I will try to find those recordings and listen to them, hopefully without buying them.

 8)

Very nice.

Agreed! Damn fine conductor, but I can't even listen to his music on account of his horrific (alleged) actions and, worse, his complete unrepentance. Anyway, I am a huge fan of Martha Argerich (Dutoit's former wife, and they did have great chemistry together musically speaking) so that is amazing that you got a signature from her.

Anyway, I still have yet to listen to that disc with the symphonies, so I will refrain from posting further here and cluttering the thread until I get around to it.  ;D

Dutoit was at his best during his Montreal days. I can’t say I’ve bothered to follow his career prior to his time in Montreal. Argerich continues to impress me, but sometimes she’s not always the best advocate of a piece and I get turned off by her intense playing.

Anyway....back to Bernstein’s music.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 23, 2020, 07:43:38 AM
I know the Zimerman disc and agree it is very good, but rate the Thibaudet/Alsop high as well.  I listened to the Slatkin/Chandos CD last night and will probably purchase the Hamelin/Hyperion disc at some point.

Thanks for your comments.

 8)
Yes, it has a great cover image as well!
 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 23, 2020, 07:44:54 AM
Ok. What's the best version of the 'On the Waterfront' music?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 23, 2020, 07:56:24 AM
Ok. What's the best version of the 'On the Waterfront' music?

Bernstein on Columbia (Sony), although I do like his remake on DG as well.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 23, 2020, 08:22:17 AM
Bernstein on Columbia (Sony), although I do like his remake on DG as well.
Thanks John!
It will be in my 'Bernstein Original Covers' boxed set - I will fish it out.
 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 23, 2020, 08:41:08 AM
Thanks John!
It will be in my 'Bernstein Original Covers' boxed set - I will fish it out.
 :)

Well, there haven’t been a lot of conductors who have recorded On the Waterfront --- maybe a handful of conductors besides Bernstein.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 23, 2020, 08:52:27 AM
Ok. What's the best version of the 'On the Waterfront' music?

The original Bernstein on Columbia is the best (which, IMO, is always the case), but there was a new recording in 2018 by Christian Lindberg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic that is very good. 

(https://eclassical.textalk.se/shop/17115/art15/h7747/5017747-origpic-e1607f.jpg)

And it is generously filled with suites from West Side Story, On the Town and Fancy Free, plus the overture from Candide.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 23, 2020, 09:20:41 AM
The original Bernstein on Columbia is the best (which, IMO, is always the case), but there was a new recording in 2018 by Christian Lindberg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic that is very good. 

(https://eclassical.textalk.se/shop/17115/art15/h7747/5017747-origpic-e1607f.jpg)

And it is generously filled with suites from West Side Story, On the Town and Fancy Free, plus the overture from Candide.

I know I keep pushing this disc but it really is very fine indeed.  Originally an RPO/Tring own label coupling but easier to find in this licenced version I think;

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41Z8A7SZ7AL.jpg)
(https://e.snmc.io/i/300/w/0b5477fe495a0e488df5904877a2d96f/4294295)

a lot cheaper than the new BIS disc too and basically the identical programme
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 23, 2020, 09:44:49 AM
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.
(https://reviews.azureedge.net/gramophone/media-thumbnails/bernstein_quiet_place.jpg)

A word of advice/caution re this Nagano/Quiet Place.  It is in effect a radically re-worked version of the opera sanctioned by the composer's estate NOT Bernstein himself.  This includes a complete reorchestration from in effect a full symphonic ensemble to a musical-type pit orchestra of 17.  Also, whole sections of music are reallocated/cut/restored etc etc.  I have NOT heard it - reviews seem to indicate it has been well done and is effective in its own right .... but whether its truly "Bernstein" (with the warts and all that seem to be part of the deal) is another matter. 

Personally I'll stick with the original - which for all its flaws is what Bernstein meant when he wrote it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 23, 2020, 10:25:20 AM
The original Bernstein on Columbia is the best (which, IMO, is always the case), but there was a new recording in 2018 by Christian Lindberg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic that is very good. 

(https://eclassical.textalk.se/shop/17115/art15/h7747/5017747-origpic-e1607f.jpg)

And it is generously filled with suites from West Side Story, On the Town and Fancy Free, plus the overture from Candide.
Thanks. This was the CD that I had been considering.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 23, 2020, 10:36:21 AM
A word of advice/caution re this Nagano/Quiet Place.  It is in effect a radically re-worked version of the opera sanctioned by the composer's estate NOT Bernstein himself.  This includes a complete reorchestration from in effect a full symphonic ensemble to a musical-type pit orchestra of 17.  Also, whole sections of music are reallocated/cut/restored etc etc.  I have NOT heard it - reviews seem to indicate it has been well done and is effective in its own right .... but whether its truly "Bernstein" (with the warts and all that seem to be part of the deal) is another matter. 

Personally I'll stick with the original - which for all its flaws is what Bernstein meant when he wrote it.

Which original?  There were three versions: 1) the one act Trouble in Tahiti, 2) the 1983 three act revision and, 3) the 1986 three act revision - neither of which satisfied Bernstein who was planning yet another revision at the time of his death. 

Here's a sketch of the convoluted history of the work:

Quote
A somewhat jazzy satire on life in suburbia in the 1950s, Bernstein’s one-act opera Trouble in Tahiti, composed in 1952, focused on the lives of a married couple, Sam and Dinah. Thirty years later, in A Quiet Place, Bernstein and his librettist Stephen Wadsworth revisited the couple. In A Quiet Place, many years have passed. Dinah has just been killed in a car crash. We later learn that it may have been suicide. Sam and the children gather for her funeral and the interactions between them make it clear that this was an unhappy, dysfunctional family. After seemingly endless bickering and recriminations, at the end of the opera, there is a tentative reconciliation.

The 1983 Houston premiere of A Quiet Place opened with Trouble in Tahiti. After intermission, the 110 minutes of A Quiet Place was performed without a break. While the life story of Sam and Dinah provided some continuity to link the two operas, musically they were as different as chalk and cheese. In the 1983 production Bernstein’s quasi-Broadway 1950s Trouble in Tahiti style had morphed into something far more dissonant; the often amusing bickering had become angrier and much more personal. A Quiet Place also gave us mental illness, homosexuality and incest, all of which made Houston audiences uncomfortable.

Bernstein and Wadsworth reworked A Quiet Place again after the Houston premiere. This time, they cut a great deal of the opera and incorporated Trouble in Tahiti as a flashback. Although this version was produced at the Vienna State Opera and recorded (DG 419761) in 1986, Bernstein was still dissatisfied with the opera and probably would have attempted another version had he not passed away in 1990.

Conductor Kent Nagano, who had worked closely with Bernstein during the Vienna performances, felt that a revised version should eliminate Trouble in Tahiti altogether, restore some of the music eliminated in the 1986 version, and, above all, use a reduced orchestration. The orchestra required for both the original Houston version in 1983 and for the 1986 Vienna version was huge and often overwhelmed the voices and obscured the text. The man tasked by Kent Nagano with scaling down the orchestration for this 2013 version was Garth Edwin Sutherland. He reduced the original complement of more than 72 players to a mere 18 and eliminated much of the percussion as well as the electric guitar and the synthesizer, with the result that the instrumental textures are much lighter and more appropriate to what is, for the most part, a chamber opera for four singers. While one assumes that with a smaller orchestra it is easier to hear the voices and understand the words, that is impossible to judge based on a recording; balance issues can be easily rectified by a skilled engineer.

It should be emphasized that Sutherland not only reduced the orchestration but also made major changes in the content and structure of the opera; for example, he restored three arias that were cut from the Vienna version and “reassigned the reading of Dinah’s letter, ‘Dear Loved Ones,’ from Junior to François.” It is certainly questionable whether it is ethical to make such wholesale revisions to the score without authorization from the composer. Perhaps this should be called the Bernstein-Sutherland version.

Ethical questions aside, the performance could hardly be better. The playing of the OSM musicians is consistently brilliant and Nagano shapes the music with authority. The soloists are all excellent, especially baritone Lucas Meachem (Sam) who delivers his long solos with a wide range of expression.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 23, 2020, 11:21:57 AM
Which original?  There were three versions: 1) the one act Trouble in Tahiti, 2) the 1983 three act revision and, 3) the 1986 three act revision - neither of which satisfied Bernstein who was planning yet another revision at the time of his death. 

Here's a sketch of the convoluted history of the work:

As I said - I haven't heard the Nagano - the Gramophone review which seems to reference some of the same material in your history - ended the review thus;

"This was clearly a labour of love, and if it’s a question of a slimmed-down, reworked A Quiet Place in opera houses or (as is currently likely) no A Quiet Place at all, I wish it success. Record collectors don’t face the same choice, and you might feel that Bernstein without the extravagance, the awkwardness – Bernstein without its heart on its sleeve – isn’t really Bernstein at all. If that’s the case you’ll be interested, like me, to hear this for the individual performances. But the composer’s own flawed yet deeply romantic DG recording (10/87) will continue to be your first choice."

I have the same ill-ease with a very different work - the revision of Walton's Troilus & Cressida recorded on Chandos  which sought to fuse the "best bits" of the soprano led original with the composer's reworkings for the Mezzo led ROH revival that EMI recorded.  To my ear we should have had the complete original - again warts and all - rather than some hybrid which Walton never sanctioned. 

Jumping back to Bernstein - sure he might have been dissatisfied with Quiet Place in the 1986 revision but he DID sanction it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 23, 2020, 12:30:36 PM
As I said - I haven't heard the Nagano - the Gramophone review which seems to reference some of the same material in your history - ended the review thus;

"This was clearly a labour of love, and if it’s a question of a slimmed-down, reworked A Quiet Place in opera houses or (as is currently likely) no A Quiet Place at all, I wish it success. Record collectors don’t face the same choice, and you might feel that Bernstein without the extravagance, the awkwardness – Bernstein without its heart on its sleeve – isn’t really Bernstein at all. If that’s the case you’ll be interested, like me, to hear this for the individual performances. But the composer’s own flawed yet deeply romantic DG recording (10/87) will continue to be your first choice."

I have the same ill-ease with a very different work - the revision of Walton's Troilus & Cressida recorded on Chandos  which sought to fuse the "best bits" of the soprano led original with the composer's reworkings for the Mezzo led ROH revival that EMI recorded.  To my ear we should have had the complete original - again warts and all - rather than some hybrid which Walton never sanctioned. 

Jumping back to Bernstein - sure he might have been dissatisfied with Quiet Place in the 1986 revision but he DID sanction it.

You may be right about the DG recording, I haven't heard it.  I will listen to it from the Theater Works box, which is available to stream, and may even purchase it because it would be a valuable document of a work that I am interested in.  Still, the Nagano recording is also worthwhile, even if it was done posthumously, there is some likelihood Nagano was privy to Bernstein's ideas and wishes and it might not be so far off the mark.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 23, 2020, 08:15:47 PM
Interesting ongoing discussion in regards to A Quiet Place. Personally, I don’t think he should have incorporated Trouble in Tahiti into this opera even if it’s a flashback. I’m not sure why he thought it would be a good idea to do this since the music for A Quiet Place is vastly different from the jazziness found in Trouble. A Quiet Place is supposedly an opera of a darker, more troubled hue. I haven’t heard this opera, but I kind of want to hear Nagano’s performance first given the good reviews it received.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 24, 2020, 03:51:30 AM
Interesting ongoing discussion in regards to A Quiet Place. Personally, I don’t think he should have incorporated Trouble in Tahiti into this opera even if it’s a flashback. I’m not sure why he thought it would be a good idea to do this since the music for A Quiet Place is vastly different from the jazziness found in Trouble. A Quiet Place is supposedly an opera of a darker, more troubled hue. I haven’t heard this opera, but I kind of want to hear Nagano’s performance first given the good reviews it received.

I agree with you, and think Trouble in Tahiti and A Quiet Place ought to stand alone as distinct works.

IMO, the older he got Bernstein and especially with the theater works, he used operatic singers and expanded the orchestration which was detrimental to the lighter scale works.  West Side Story suffers from this approach and I think A Quiet Place benefits from the latest revisions.

I tried to listen to A Quiet Place from the DG Theater Works box and decided I prefer the Nagano version, even if it was done without Bernstein's input.  I am of the opinion that there is a very good chance it represents Bernstein's final thoughts on the work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 24, 2020, 08:08:45 AM
I agree with you, and think Trouble in Tahiti and A Quiet Place ought to stand alone as distinct works.

IMO, the older he got Bernstein and especially with the theater works, he used operatic singers and expanded the orchestration which was detrimental to the lighter scale works.  West Side Story suffers from this approach and I think A Quiet Place benefits from the latest revisions.

I tried to listen to A Quiet Place from the DG Theater Works box and decided I prefer the Nagano version, even if it was done without Bernstein's input.  I am of the opinion that there is a very good chance it represents Bernstein's final thoughts on the work.

You and I are of the same mind here, which most be a first. ;D I’m going to try listen to the Nagano over the weekend. Of course, try being the operative word. ;)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on January 24, 2020, 09:55:18 AM
You and I are of the same mind here, which most be a first. ;D I’m going to try listen to the Nagano over the weekend. Of course, try being the operative word. ;)

So, I read an interview with Sunderland in the NYT which clears up some questions.  First, the chamber version was not meant to replace the final 3 act opera Bernstein prepared.  Sunderland says that many venues do not have the resources or desire to stage the 1986 opera since it calls for a large orchestra, crew and set. 

He said,

Quote
“It’s a major Bernstein theatrical work that had just vanished,” said Garth Edwin Sunderland, who as vice president for creative projects at the Leonard Bernstein Office is a kind of in-house editor and arranger for the composer’s estate. “One of the reasons had been that the full work is magnificent, but that magnificence comes at a cost: huge cast, huge orchestra. It’s expensive. To put the kind of resources that requires into something challenging is difficult for major opera companies to manage.”

This idea originated with Bernstein who had spoken of a "Broadway" version.

But the changes went beyond scale and removed the Trouble in Tahiti from the 2nd act entirely, substituting some arias which had been dropped from the 1983 version:

Quote
So there had long been a desire for a more intimate “Quiet Place” that could be done by conservatories and smaller companies. Bernstein himself had mulled a Broadway version with a reduced orchestration, but didn’t get around to it before his death in 1990.

“We had also wanted to look at other dramaturgical possibilities for the work,” Mr. Sunderland said. He got to work on what ended up being a seven-year project.

Out, most dramatically, went “Trouble in Tahiti.” Back in came three arias that had been cut from the final act for the 1986 version. Snips were made throughout. An orchestra of at least 72 players was reduced to an ensemble of 18, creating leaner textures and encouraging a less, well, operatic singing and acting style.

The entire article can be found here (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/arts/music/leonard-bernstein-quiet-place-tanglewood.html).

I am in the process of listening to both versions - it is a large work to wrap your head around, but I can see that both versions have a place in Bernstein's catalog.  And in fact, Boosey & Hawkes offers both scores/parts for rental or purchase without drawing any distinction as to which one is preferable.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on January 24, 2020, 08:12:47 PM
So, I read an interview with Sunderland in the NYT which clears up some questions.  First, the chamber version was not meant to replace the final 3 act opera Bernstein prepared.  Sunderland says that many venues do not have the resources or desire to stage the 1986 opera since it calls for a large orchestra, crew and set. 

He said,

This idea originated with Bernstein who had spoken of a "Broadway" version.

But the changes went beyond scale and removed the Trouble in Tahiti from the 2nd act entirely, substituting some arias which had been dropped from the 1983 version:

The entire article can be found here (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/arts/music/leonard-bernstein-quiet-place-tanglewood.html).

I am in the process of listening to both versions - it is a large work to wrap your head around, but I can see that both versions have a place in Bernstein's catalog.  And in fact, Boosey & Hawkes offers both scores/parts for rental or purchase without drawing any distinction as to which one is preferable.

Thanks for the feedback, San Antone. I think the fact that Bernstein recorded is enough for me to give it a listen, but I’m still going to listen to Nagano first as I do like the idea of a chamber orchestra arrangement. This is one reason why many of Britten’s operas are appealing to me --- he practically spearheaded the whole idea of chamber opera.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Christo on January 25, 2020, 12:44:20 AM
Thanks. This was the CD that I had been considering.

Saw Lindberg conducting (the RTE NSO) in Dublin, five years ago, a.o. one of his personal favourites, Tchaikovsky 5, and also one of his own fun pieces (Helicon). Was very much convinced: a really communicative conductor, a feast for audience and orchestra alike. Just like Bernstein himself was, or Riccardo Chailly can be (if he slept well, i.e. almost always).  :D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on January 25, 2020, 01:39:29 AM
So, I read an interview with Sunderland in the NYT which clears up some questions.  First, the chamber version was not meant to replace the final 3 act opera Bernstein prepared.  Sunderland says that many venues do not have the resources or desire to stage the 1986 opera since it calls for a large orchestra, crew and set. 

He said,

This idea originated with Bernstein who had spoken of a "Broadway" version.

But the changes went beyond scale and removed the Trouble in Tahiti from the 2nd act entirely, substituting some arias which had been dropped from the 1983 version:

The entire article can be found here (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/10/arts/music/leonard-bernstein-quiet-place-tanglewood.html).

I am in the process of listening to both versions - it is a large work to wrap your head around, but I can see that both versions have a place in Bernstein's catalog.  And in fact, Boosey & Hawkes offers both scores/parts for rental or purchase without drawing any distinction as to which one is preferable.

Thankyou for all that information - it certainly makes me think I must seek out this Nagano version for all the reasons you mention.  Another thing worth pointing out is that Sutherland is the same composer/arranger who has produced the orchestral versions of the Piano Annversaries that I mentioned earlier in this thread as being so effective.  He certainly "gets" the Bernstein sound-world
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 25, 2020, 01:42:37 AM
Saw Lindberg conducting (the RTE NSO) in Dublin, five years ago, a.o. one of his personal favourites, Tchaikovsky 5, and also one of his own fun pieces (Helicon). Was very much convinced: a really communicative conductor, a feast for audience and orchestra alike. Just like Bernstein himself was, or Riccardo Chailly can be (if he slept well, i.e. almost always).  :D

Very good to know! CD should come today I hope. I'll report back. I see that the Jeremiah/Age of Anxiety CD with the 'Arctic Philharmonic (my first CD of them I suspect) is a March release. Thanks Johan.
 :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on January 28, 2020, 01:22:18 PM
I greatly enjoyed the Lindberg Bernstein CD which I played right through in the car today. Beautifully recorded and performed. Highlights were West Side Story and On the Waterfront:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 04, 2020, 05:22:35 PM
A new recording of Mass - and it is GOOD, very good.

(https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/C5370.jpg)

Company of Music
Dennis Russell Davies
Vojtěch Dyk
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Vienna State Opera Children's Choir
Wiener Singakademie


Despite this being an all European roster (D.R. Davies is, of course, British), they produce as very idiomatic performance.

Do not delay - get this, it is well worth it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 04, 2020, 07:02:43 PM
A new recording of Mass - and it is GOOD, very good.

(https://cdn.naxosmusiclibrary.com/sharedfiles/images/cds/hires/C5370.jpg)

Company of Music
Dennis Russell Davies
Vojtěch Dyk
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Vienna State Opera Children's Choir
Wiener Singakademie


Despite this being an all European roster (D.R. Davies is, of course, British), they produce as very idiomatic performance.

Do not delay - get this, it is well worth it.

Dennis Russell Davies is an American conductor, San Antone. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 04, 2020, 07:37:53 PM
Dennis Russell Davies is an American conductor, San Antone. :)

Noted, my mistake.

Is that all you have to say about this new, very good, recording of Mass?

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 04, 2020, 08:26:11 PM
Noted, my mistake.

Is that all you have to say about this new, very good, recording of Mass?

 8)

I’m not a huge fan of the Mass and have always had problems with it. :) I will agree with your statement in the ‘Listening’ thread that the Bernstein performance on Columbia is the one to own.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 05, 2020, 04:37:26 AM
I’m not a huge fan of the Mass and have always had problems with it. :) I will agree with your statement in the ‘Listening’ thread that the Bernstein performance on Columbia is the one to own.

Since Mass is among my ten favorite works (at least in on my list in that thread) you can understand why I think differently, i.e. I would never limit myself to just one recording, even if I think the original is "the best".  I will go back and listen to all of them again so I can get an idea of where this new one stands in my mind, but I was immediately impressed.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 05, 2020, 04:52:11 AM
Since Mass is among my ten favorite works (at least in on my list in that thread) you can understand why I think differently, i.e. I would never limit myself to just one recording, even if I think the original is "the best".  I will go back and listen to all of them again so I can get an idea of where this new one stands in my mind, but I was immediately impressed.

High praise. After I get my April program set, I shall at last break out my recording for a listen.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 05, 2020, 08:40:32 AM
Since Mass is among my ten favorite works (at least in on my list in that thread) you can understand why I think differently, i.e. I would never limit myself to just one recording, even if I think the original is "the best".  I will go back and listen to all of them again so I can get an idea of where this new one stands in my mind, but I was immediately impressed.

It’s true that different interpretations bring out different elements in the music that weren’t quite tapped into before. This is the advantage (as far as I can see) of having a large collection. It’s kind of like I wouldn’t want to be limited to just one Le sacre. There are so many great ones out there it’s unbelievable. Yes, I’m quite aware of how much you love Bernstein’s Mass. This was quite apparent from your initial posts on this thread. :)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 07, 2020, 06:47:43 AM
Cross-posted from the WAYL2N thread

Bernstein : Mass
Kristjan Järvi, Randall Scarlata,  Tölz Boys Choir,  Lower Austrian Tonkünstler Orchestra,  Absolute Ensemble

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61JDo%2BFM1UL.jpg)

Quote
For a work that was derided by some as much as it was adored by others upon its premiere, Bernstein’s Mass seems now to be a modern classic. This new recording is likely to be a powerful advocate in its widespread reassessment. Kristjan Järvi conducts his many and varied forces with high-octane energy, while Chandos delivers thrillingly clear and immediate sound.

Even at this early stage it’s clear that Järvi has transformed Mass from a piece of seventies tat into something much more substantial and less time-bound. Those who cringe at Bernstein’s own reading will surely respond to this more symphonic reading. I certainly found myself revelling in details and rhythms as yet only hinted at, marvelling also at the coherence of Bernstein’s hastily assembled creation. Yes, the Alleluias are heavily accented but goodness, the Ivesian rumty-tumty of the First Introit (tr. 4) has never sounded so uproarious. Perhaps the Austrian oompah-pah tradition is the secret ingredient here, the Company of Music (the Street Chorus) and Tölz boys in fine form as well. Surely even the ever-critical Bernstein would have been captivated by the verve of this performance.

For all its shortcomings Bernstein’s recording will always have a special one. It’s a unique reflection of the prevailing zeitgeist, and for that reason alone it deserves a place on your shelves. Järvi’s reading is altogether more thoughtful, a mature, 21st-century take on the fading flower culture of the early seventies. We readily accept that performing styles change in other genres, so it’s entirely appropriate that we have a new – and refreshing – perspective on Mass as well.

Listening again, more closely, to this recording which kind of fell through the cracks of my Mass traversal.  I think Dan Morgan, the reviewer quoted on the Arkiv Music site, is unfair (e.g., Mass was not hastily assembled, Bernstein worked on it for two years) in his appraisal of the original Bernstein recording, but he does say some positive things about Jarvi's interpretation and cast.

Quote
As a convert I exhort all those who don’t believe in Mass to buy this recording and recant. I didn’t expect to be as moved and thrilled by this performance as I was; indeed, it sets new standards for this most underrated work, both musically and sonically. Add to all these virtues a chunky, well-written booklet – including texts – and you have the makings of a modern classic.

-- Dan Morgan, MusicWe International [5/2009]
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 09, 2020, 03:51:41 PM
I am preparing an extensive blog article about Mass; I've gotten much of the overview written and am now listening to all of the recordings and making notes.  Although I've listened to them out of order, I am beginning fresh with the original before working my way through the others in chronological order.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lzD1-bt8L._SL1500_.jpg)

I have spent a lot of time listening to various recordings of this work and am convinced that it is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.

Re: the above Jarvi recording, here's my notes:

In his recording, Kristjan Järvi has fundamentally reconceptualized Mass.  This something of a gutsy interpretive act which was only possible now that enough time has passed, and enough performances have occurred, for Bernstein's Mass to be viewed anew liberated from the context of its time.

Järvi leads with confidence, producing a rich, tight sound, while at the same time creating transparency of the complex orchestration.  The execution is sharp and convincing, fueled by aggressive percussion and some surprising quick tempos.  His knowledge of jazz and rock have helped him knead the disparate elements into a convincing whole.

If Bernstein emphasized the contrasting elements from which he assembled Mass as if to celebrate its eclecticism, Järvi blurs transitions between some sections, thus helping to unify the opposing styles. He even re-cut the prerecorded tapes to better reflect his overall blended aural image. His command of the music is obvious, his direction is best with the orchestral forces and blending the rock instruments in with the traditional timbres.  But the boy choir sounds ragged in sections.

Randall Scarlata's Celebrant leans in an operatic direction and overall sounds a bit stiff to me.   But he does bring a sense of stability to the protagonist, who is not so much buffeted by social forces as trying to shape them into rational meaning. The other, presumably German, soloists do not mangle American pronunciation, although the nuances of the American idioms (both in the text and music)  may not have been entirely within their grasp. 

Not the worst recording by far, and Järvi's take is valuable for an alternative interpretation.  None of its flaws overwhelm an overall positive impression.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 09, 2020, 04:29:35 PM
I am preparing an extensive blog article about Mass; I've gotten much of the overview written and am now listening to all of the recordings and making notes.  Although I've listened to them out of order, I am beginning fresh with the original before working my way through the others in chronological order.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lzD1-bt8L._SL1500_.jpg)

I have spent a lot of time listening to various recordings of this work and am convinced that it is one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.

Re: the above Jarvi recording, here's my notes:

In his recording, Kristjan Järvi has fundamentally reconceptualized Mass.  This something of a gutsy interpretive act which was only possible now that enough time has passed, and enough performances have occurred, for Bernstein's Mass to be viewed anew liberated from the context of its time.

Järvi leads with confidence, producing a rich, tight sound, while at the same time creating transparency of the complex orchestration.  The execution is sharp and convincing, fueled by aggressive percussion and some surprising quick tempos.  His knowledge of jazz and rock have helped him knead the disparate elements into a convincing whole.

If Bernstein emphasized the contrasting elements from which he assembled Mass as if to celebrate its eclecticism, Järvi blurs transitions between some sections, thus helping to unify the opposing styles. He even re-cut the prerecorded tapes to better reflect his overall blended aural image. His command of the music is obvious, his direction is best with the orchestral forces and blending the rock instruments in with the traditional timbres.  But the boy choir sounds ragged in sections.

Randall Scarlata's Celebrant leans in an operatic direction and overall sounds a bit stiff to me.   But he does bring a sense of stability to the protagonist, who is not so much buffeted by social forces as trying to shape them into rational meaning. The other, presumably German, soloists do not mangle American pronunciation, although the nuances of the American idioms (both in the text and music)  may not have been entirely within their grasp.

Not the worst recording by far, and Järvi's take is valuable for an alternative interpretation.  None of its flaws overwhelm an overall positive impression.

Hopefully, reading your article about it will change my mind, because right now, I’m afraid I don’t share the same sentiments.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 15, 2020, 04:18:14 PM
I have published my overview of Mass with short reviews of the six recordings:

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass : Newer Recordings (https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/screen-shot-2020-03-08-at-3.05.43-am-e1583679647768.png?w=1312)

Quote
If I were to rank the recordings, here’s my list:

Bernstein
Alsop
Nézet-Séguin
Nagano
Järvi
Davies


Bottom-line: I hope this article will inspire people who up to now have been warned off from listening to Mass.  No matter which recording, you really can't go wrong with any of them despite my ranking, the work is a treat.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 15, 2020, 04:25:39 PM
^Nice. Thanks! I will read through it. I have been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Bernstein's Mass lately. I thought you really liked the Davies, though...? Did you have a change of heart after listening through to all of your other recordings?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 15, 2020, 04:30:10 PM
^Nice. Thanks! I will read through it. I have been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Bernstein's Mass lately. I thought you really liked the Davies, though...? Did you have a change of heart after listening through to all of your other recordings?

My first impression of the Davies was more positive.  But after spending time and close listening to all of them in order, his came off as much less effective than the others.  This is mainly because of his singers, with the exception of The Celebrant, they were pretty anemic sounding.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 15, 2020, 04:51:37 PM
My first impression of the Davies was more positive.  But after spending time and close listening to all of them in order, his came off as much less effective than the others.  This is mainly because of his singers, with the exception of The Celebrant, they were pretty anemic sounding.

Too bad. At least, as you wrote, there are several other great recordings out there. I'm torn between the Bernstein original and the Alsop. I actually just saw the Alsop at a local book and record store for $4 the other day, but I put it back because I figured I owed it to myself to check out the original first. After hearing the samples on your blog, I think I liked the original better.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 15, 2020, 05:06:53 PM
I have published my overview of Mass with short reviews of the six recordings:

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass : Newer Recordings (https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/screen-shot-2020-03-08-at-3.05.43-am-e1583679647768.png?w=1312)


Looking forward to reading this.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 15, 2020, 07:04:35 PM
I have published my overview of Mass with short reviews of the six recordings:

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass : Newer Recordings (https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/screen-shot-2020-03-08-at-3.05.43-am-e1583679647768.png?w=1312)

Very nice, San Antone. Nice looking article.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 16, 2020, 12:27:24 AM
I have published my overview of Mass with short reviews of the six recordings:

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass : Newer Recordings (https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/)

(https://musicakaleidoscope.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/screen-shot-2020-03-08-at-3.05.43-am-e1583679647768.png?w=1312)

Congratulations on the article and you are quite right - it is so valuable to have something like this written to provoke both adherents and "newbies" to the work.  So fascinating that the original really is unchallenged - I completely agree.  Of the rest, I don't know Nagano (I struggle a bit with Jerry Hadley's voice) and haven't heard the newest Davies yet but after that I'd personally put Jarvi ahead of Alsop or Nezet-Seguin.  With Alsop I simply cannot get past Sykes' simpering OTT "I'll make every word mean something" approach.  Its like lieder singing word painting comes to music theatre.  No complaints about the conducting/orchestra but I do feel quite a few of the vocal soloists lack bite/character.  Nezet-Seguin is badly let down by the downright odd engineering.  As bad a modern piece of recording - certainly on a 'great' label such as DG as I have heard.  Again no real complaints about the performance but this is a pale shadow of perhaps how effective it was in the hall on the night.  But you don't mention the engineering much if at all.  I would not have put myself down as being sound-led but I find the SA-CD sound for Jarvi a major plus and I like the way he is not too religious[!] in his following of the original in terms of tempi.  For sure it does not replace the original but I find it the most interesting/challenging of the new versions.

By the way - one little typo - you say Nagano was a student of Bernstein for 17 years from 84-91
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 16, 2020, 01:50:41 AM

By the way - one little typo - you say Nagano was a student of Bernstein for 17 years from 84-91

Also, Bernstein died in 1990, not 1991.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 03:57:16 AM
Congratulations on the article and you are quite right - it is so valuable to have something like this written to provoke both adherents and "newbies" to the work.  So fascinating that the original really is unchallenged - I completely agree.  Of the rest, I don't know Nagano (I struggle a bit with Jerry Hadley's voice) and haven't heard the newest Davies yet but after that I'd personally put Jarvi ahead of Alsop or Nezet-Seguin.  With Alsop I simply cannot get past Sykes' simpering OTT "I'll make every word mean something" approach.  Its like lieder singing word painting comes to music theatre.  No complaints about the conducting/orchestra but I do feel quite a few of the vocal soloists lack bite/character.  Nezet-Seguin is badly let down by the downright odd engineering.  As bad a modern piece of recording - certainly on a 'great' label such as DG as I have heard.  Again no real complaints about the performance but this is a pale shadow of perhaps how effective it was in the hall on the night.  But you don't mention the engineering much if at all.  I would not have put myself down as being sound-led but I find the SA-CD sound for Jarvi a major plus and I like the way he is not too religious[!] in his following of the original in terms of tempi.  For sure it does not replace the original but I find it the most interesting/challenging of the new versions.

By the way - one little typo - you say Nagano was a student of Bernstein for 17 years from 84-91

I don't know where my brain was - of course you are right, I knew he had been with Bernstein for six years, and just brain farted with a huge noise.   ;D

Your comments are very interesting, I felt that Jarvi was just over the top with his tempi, too fast and furious, and as I wrote, Scarlata could barely keep up in his most important section.  But you are right about the sound of the recording.  I usually discount engineering, especially for live performances, i.e. Nezet-Seguin, since I am listening to the performance above all.  But, many thanks for reading the article and such interesting comments.

Also, Bernstein died in 1990, not 1991.

Yep, my mind was on vacation ...

Thanks to you both for pointing out these mistake, which I've corrected.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 16, 2020, 07:32:31 AM
Don’t mention it. I’m sure you already knew as much.

Can someone tell me which orchestra plays on the Bernstein Sony original? It doesn’t seem to be on the CD anywhere. Is it the NYPO?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 08:26:13 AM
Don’t mention it. I’m sure you already knew as much.

Can someone tell me which orchestra plays on the Bernstein Sony original? It doesn’t seem to be on the CD anywhere. Is it the NYPO?

It is definitely not the NY Phil, and hasn't never been identified as an established orchestra.  My guess is that since the instrumental forces are unique to the work the ensemble was put together especially for the recording, culled from first-call studio and orchestral players who normally work in pit orchestras and ad hoc recordings/performances.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 16, 2020, 02:13:45 PM
It is definitely not the NY Phil, and hasn't never been identified as an established orchestra.  My guess is that since the instrumental forces are unique to the work the ensemble was put together especially for the recording, culled from first-call studio and orchestral players who normally work in pit orchestras and ad hoc recordings/performances.

Interesting. Having listened to a few tracks from this and a few other recordings on break at work today, I have determined that to my ears, this is totally Broadway musical music, which is absolutely not my bag at all, and never has been. But something draws me in a little deeper with my curiosity, and I feel like I owe it to myself to explore this music in further depth, because I think I believe in its importance as a cultural artifact of its time and place (maybe thanks in part to your article, San Antone), and that intrigues me. I think I will try and order a recording of it on disc when things settle down a bit. I am not sure how online sellers (or the postal service, for that matter) are being affected by the virus response things that are happening in the world, but it might be wise to cull my spending on music in any case.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 02:26:50 PM
Interesting. Having listened to a few tracks from this and a few other recordings on break at work today, I have determined that to my ears, this is totally Broadway musical music, which is absolutely not my bag at all, and never has been. But something draws me in a little deeper with my curiosity, and I feel like I owe it to myself to explore this music in further depth, because I think I believe in its importance as a cultural artifact of its time and place (maybe thanks in part to your article, San Antone), and that intrigues me. I think I will try and order a recording of it on disc when things settle down a bit. I am not sure how online sellers (or the postal service, for that matter) are being affected by the virus response things that are happening in the world, but it might be wise to cull my spending on music in any case.

There are definitely Broadway musical style sections/songs - but there are also sections which sound to me outside of the Broadway genre.  The three Orchestral Meditations and the "Almighty Father" Prayer for the Congregation, for example.  Also, the "Agnus Dei" leading into the Celebrant's long solo "Things Get Broken" and then the concluding Pax: Communion "Secret Songs", all are Bernstein's style of incorporating classical tropes into accessible music.

Do give it more time, and try to listen straight through, since the work does pay off with an effective closing.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2020, 02:36:57 PM
Do give it more time, and try to listen straight through, since the work does pay off with an effective closing.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone listen to Mass straight through without some kind of break. It can become fatiguing.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 02:54:40 PM
I wouldn’t suggest anyone listen to Mass straight through without some kind of break. It can become fatiguing.

That may have been your experience.  But I have listened to it straight through six times in the last two weeks - but it helps to be following the score.  There is a natural place to take a short (15 min.) intermission, but yes, I strongly suggest listening to it straight through.  Mass can only truly be appreciated as a whole uninterrupted experience, which is greater than a sum of its parts.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 16, 2020, 03:03:16 PM
There are definitely Broadway musical style sections/songs - but there are also sections which sound to me outside of the Broadway genre.  The three Orchestral Meditations and the "Almighty Father" Prayer for the Congregation, for example.  Also, the "Agnus Dei" leading into the Celebrant's long solo "Things Get Broken" and then the concluding Pax: Communion "Secret Songs", all are Bernstein's style of incorporating classical tropes into accessible music.

Do give it more time, and try to listen straight through, since the work does pay off with an effective closing.

+1 for all you say above but I do get a bit hot under the collar when Broadway/Musical Theatre is referenced in a pejorative way.  The irony is "high brow" music looks down on MT as 'less than' opera and then pop shows like "The Voice" or "The X factor" then use MT as an ultimate form of insult if they deem a singer too emotional or somesuch.  As ever the truth is there are good and bad MT songs and performers.  It happens that Bernstein wrote some of the best MT material ever bar none.  I find parts of Mass consciously populist but not MT per se and if they are - so what!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 03:33:38 PM
+1 for all you say above but I do get a bit hot under the collar when Broadway/Musical Theatre is referenced in a pejorative way.  The irony is "high brow" music looks down on MT as 'less than' opera and then pop shows like "The Voice" or "The X factor" then use MT as an ultimate form of insult if they deem a singer too emotional or somesuch.  As ever the truth is there are good and bad MT songs and performers.  It happens that Bernstein wrote some of the best MT material ever bar none.  I find parts of Mass consciously populist but not MT per se and if they are - so what!

I agree with you.  Musical Theater is a unique American art form, and when done at its highest level, Stephen Sondheim, Gershwin, Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Adam Guettel (The Light in the Plaza, Myths and Hymns, Floyd Collins), and others it is certainly no less artful than opera.  In fact, I think the Musical Theater is America's form of opera.

But of course, Broadway has so commercialized itself what with shows based on movies and rock songs there is a real death of good musical theater.  You must look Off-Off Broadway, and elsewhere.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 16, 2020, 03:56:58 PM
+1 for all you say above but I do get a bit hot under the collar when Broadway/Musical Theatre is referenced in a pejorative way.  The irony is "high brow" music looks down on MT as 'less than' opera and then pop shows like "The Voice" or "The X factor" then use MT as an ultimate form of insult if they deem a singer too emotional or somesuch.  As ever the truth is there are good and bad MT songs and performers.  It happens that Bernstein wrote some of the best MT material ever bar none.  I find parts of Mass consciously populist but not MT per se and if they are - so what!

Hey, I didn't mean to imply that at all! I did NOT use the term pejoratively, only descriptively. I only said that it's not for me and never has been. I have never seen a musical that I've liked. It's not bad music by any means, it's just not for me. Hope this has cleared up my perspective. I have no disrespect for the genre.

@San Antone, when I get my hands on a disc I will definitely listen to it straight through once or twice (at least; more, of course, if I end up liking it).

Do you own the score? Or is it available freely, somewhere...? I would love to look at it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2020, 04:15:57 PM
That may have been your experience.  But I have listened to it straight through six times in the last two weeks - but it helps to be following the score.  There is a natural place to take a short (15 min.) intermission, but yes, I strongly suggest listening to it straight through.  Mass can only truly be appreciated as a whole uninterrupted experience, which is greater than a sum of its parts.

 8)

Whatever floats your musical boat. The last time I tried listening to Mass, I ended up turning it off. I find it to be a cluttered mess. For me, West Side Story is Bernstein’s masterpiece.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 16, 2020, 04:17:45 PM
I wouldn’t suggest anyone listen to Mass straight through without some kind of break. It can become fatiguing.

Yet, I think that is how I shall need to assail it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 04:45:40 PM
@San Antone, when I get my hands on a disc I will definitely listen to it straight through once or twice (at least; more, of course, if I end up liking it).

Do you own the score? Or is it available freely, somewhere...? I would love to look at it.

I have the vocal score, which actually has a lot of extra instrumental detail beyond piano with voices.  Boosey & Hawkes is the distributor for Bernstein's music, which is published by the Leonard Bernstein Music Publishing Co.  The full score is only available for rental, for productions.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 16, 2020, 05:28:54 PM
Whatever floats your musical boat. The last time I tried listening to Mass, I ended up turning it off. I find it to be a cluttered mess. For me, West Side Story is Bernstein’s masterpiece.

Oh, I am well aware that there are people for whom Mass does not speak to, it has become a cliche for that kind of thing to be said. 

If Mass does not "float your musical boat" so be it, God knows there are works or composers you rave about for whom I don't share your enthusiasm.  But I also don't make a point of flaunting my low opinion on a thread devoted to that composer.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 16, 2020, 07:05:59 PM
Oh, I am well aware that there are people for whom Mass does not speak to, it has become a cliche for that kind of thing to be said. 

If Mass does not "float your musical boat" so be it, God knows there are works or composers you rave about for whom I don't share your enthusiasm.  But I also don't make a point of flaunting my low opinion on a thread devoted to that composer.

 8)

Well, the difference here is I like Bernstein’s music, but I just don’t like the Mass. I’ll bash it as I please. :D
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 17, 2020, 08:41:28 AM
I agree with you.  Musical Theater is a unique American art form, and when done at its highest level, Stephen Sondheim, Gershwin, Bernstein, Marc Blitzstein, Adam Guettel (The Light in the Plaza, Myths and Hymns, Floyd Collins), and others it is certainly no less artful than opera.  In fact, I think the Musical Theater is America's form of opera.

But of course, Broadway has so commercialized itself what with shows based on movies and rock songs there is a real death of good musical theater.  You must look Off-Off Broadway, and elsewhere.

Absolute agreement with everything you write.  All I would add is Jason Robert Brown to the list of current top top Broadway composers.  Happened to listen to his "The Last Five Years" today which is sophisticated powerful and moving.  A simple story - mapping a relationship over its 5 year course from first meeting to final separation.  BUT, the dramatic conceit is the woman sings her songs starting at the end of the affair and ending with the beginning while the man (its just a two hander) starts at the beginning and ends with the end - they only sing together once - half way through when their narrative arcs intersect.  Brown's "Parade" is one of the GREAT pieces of theatre of the last 25 years.  Also his "Songs for a New World" is a kind of theatrical song cycle with some remarkable songs including the closing "Flying Home" which is the spirit of a soldier who has been killed on active service abroad being flown home.....  Adam Guettel's "Myths & Hymns" is more a concept album than show but of incredible poetry and power - the song "Come to Jesus" is as powerful as anything I know (its NOT about religion!).

Read an article today about Spielberg's new version of West Side Story.  It looks and sounds very exciting.  Updated script and new choreography (great as Jerry Robbins' choreo is, its time to be updated).
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 09:41:19 AM
Absolute agreement with everything you write.  All I would add is Jason Robert Brown to the list of current top top Broadway composers.  Happened to listen to his "The Last Five Years" today which is sophisticated powerful and moving.  A simple story - mapping a relationship over its 5 year course from first meeting to final separation.  BUT, the dramatic conceit is the woman sings her songs starting at the end of the affair and ending with the beginning while the man (its just a two hander) starts at the beginning and ends with the end - they only sing together once - half way through when their narrative arcs intersect.  Brown's "Parade" is one of the GREAT pieces of theatre of the last 25 years.  Also his "Songs for a New World" is a kind of theatrical song cycle with some remarkable songs including the closing "Flying Home" which is the spirit of a soldier who has been killed on active service abroad being flown home.....  Adam Guettel's "Myths & Hymns" is more a concept album than show but of incredible poetry and power - the song "Come to Jesus" is as powerful as anything I know (its NOT about religion!).

Read an article today about Spielberg's new version of West Side Story.  It looks and sounds very exciting.  Updated script and new choreography (great as Jerry Robbins' choreo is, its time to be updated).

The reverse-chrono plot device was used in Merrily We Roll Along - first in the 1934 play and then in the Sondheim musical - but the woman going back and the man going forward is interesting.  I will check out Jason Robert Brown since I am not aware of his work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 09:50:17 AM
Cross-posted from the ‘Listening’ thread:

Bernstein
Halil
Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute)
Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein


(https://img.discogs.com/hEQWTDXp_M08BYH9-1MNACp5x9Q=/fit-in/600x600/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-12600449-1538359555-6249.jpeg.jpg)

A gorgeous piece. Bernstein in full-on exotic mode with hints of Stravinsky’s Greek ballets and Debussy's Impressionism.

Some valuable information regarding Halil here:

https://www.leonardbernstein.com/works/view/18/halil-nocturne (https://www.leonardbernstein.com/works/view/18/halil-nocturne)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 10:23:33 AM
Revisiting the Three Meditations from ‘Mass’ (Rostropovich/Bernstein on DG) and I have to admit to really enjoying these. Rostropovich’s cello playing is, of course, exemplary, but the sheer inventiveness of the music itself is also a wonder. Perhaps this will ease me into enjoying the full work. One of things that I find most appealing about Bernstein, besides the sheer impact of the music itself, is his melody writing. I do believe he was one of the greatest melodists of the 20th Century and this can be heard throughout his oeuvre.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 10:28:48 AM
Revisiting the Three Meditations from ‘Mass’ (Rostropovich/Bernstein on DG) and I have to admit to really enjoying these. Rostropovich’s cello playing is, of course, exemplary, but the sheer inventiveness of the music itself is also a wonder. Perhaps this will ease me into enjoying the full work. One of things that I find most appealing about Bernstein, besides the sheer impact of the music itself, is his melody writing. I do believe he was one of the greatest melodists of the 20th Century and this can be heard throughout his oeuvre.

Yes, his melodic gift was strong and unique. 

If you do take a serious look at Mass I think you may also alter your view that it is a "cluttered mess".  Bernstein unified the work with motifs which recur in various guises, and there are thematic processes which link the sections, all building to a effective climax and cathartic conclusion. 

As a large form composition, it is well put together, IMO.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 17, 2020, 10:41:19 AM
Yes, his melodic gift was strong and unique. 

If you do take a serious look at Mass I think you may also alter your view that it is a "cluttered mess".  Bernstein unified the work with motifs which recur in various guises, and there are thematic processes which link the sections, all building to a effective climax and cathartic conclusion. 

As a large form composition, it is well put together, IMO.

+1 San Antone - we'll get all these non-believers ( ;)) onside........
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 11:05:52 AM
Yes, his melodic gift was strong and unique. 

If you do take a serious look at Mass I think you may also alter your view that it is a "cluttered mess".  Bernstein unified the work with motifs which recur in various guises, and there are thematic processes which link the sections, all building to a effective climax and cathartic conclusion. 

As a large form composition, it is well put together, IMO.

Larger forms certainly didn’t stop Bernstein. I mean look at A Quiet Place or the operetta, Candide. I admire his tenacity for adhering to his own inner voice throughout his entire career and, yes, this includes especially the Mass. I shall definitely be giving the Mass another go thanks in large part to your own enthusiasm for the work and, trust me, you’re not the only person who thinks highly of the work. Marin Alsop said, for example, this was her favorite work from Bernstein.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 11:26:44 AM
San Antone, I just read through your collection of reviews on Mass. I find it strange that you didn’t comment on the audio quality of the Nézet-Séguin recording which I read was terrible. What’s your opinion of this?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 11:48:09 AM
San Antone, I just read through your collection of reviews on Mass. I find it strange that you didn’t comment on the audio quality of the Nézet-Séguin recording, which I read was terrible. What’s your opinion of this?

The Nézet-Séguin recording was recorded from live performances.  When I evaluate a recording I am looking at the quality of the performances and discount audio engineering issues, unless they degrade the experience.   But, the Nézet-Séguin recording doesn't have what I would call "bad" sound and the engineering never took away from my enjoyment the performances - which were very good. 

To say the sound is terrible, is an exaggeration, IMO. 
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 11:51:32 AM
The Nézet-Séguin recording was recorded from live performances.  When I evaluate a recording I am looking at the quality of the performances and discount audio engineering issues, unless they degrade the experience.   But, the Nézet-Séguin recording doesn't have what I would call "bad" sound and the engineering never took away from my enjoyment the performances - which were very good. 

To say the sound is terrible, is an exaggeration, IMO.

Well, this didn’t stop the Hurwitzer:

https://www.classicstoday.com/review/nezet-seguin-makes-mess-mass/ (https://www.classicstoday.com/review/nezet-seguin-makes-mess-mass/)

There’s also several negative reviews on Amazon that specifically comment on the audio quality:

https://www.amazon.com/Bernstein-Mass-Nezet-Seguin-Philadelphia-Orchestra/dp/B0791VZ8VC/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Bernstein+Mass&qid=1584475022&s=music&sr=1-2 (https://www.amazon.com/Bernstein-Mass-Nezet-Seguin-Philadelphia-Orchestra/dp/B0791VZ8VC/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Bernstein+Mass&qid=1584475022&s=music&sr=1-2)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 12:06:13 PM
Well, this didn’t stop the Hurwitzer:

https://www.classicstoday.com/review/nezet-seguin-makes-mess-mass/ (https://www.classicstoday.com/review/nezet-seguin-makes-mess-mass/)

LOL.  I can't take him serious.  The opening Kyrie is one of the pre-recorded sections and is meant to be purposely chaotic.  It doesn't sound "distant" to my ears.  The choirs sound very good to me, the Alleluia, for example is flawlesslly executed, Swingle Singer style.

I've never relied on Hurwitz as a critic.

Here's the Allmusic review, which I think is more accurate:

Quote
After more than four decades, Leonard Bernstein's original 1971 recording of Mass: A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers remains the definitive performance on CD, though several other contenders show that this work is ready for reinterpretation as it secures its place in the 21st century repertoire. This live 2015 performance on Deutsche Grammophon with the Philadelphia Orchestra, led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, is among the worthy successors to Bernstein's recording, and it is quite close in attitude, pacing, and overall interpretation, if not always in details. Considering the massiveness and unwieldiness of all productions of Mass, which was written for multiple vocal soloists, two mixed choirs, a boy choir, a marching band, a rock band, dancers, quadraphonic tape, and orchestra, entrances and exchanges between the various singers and instrumental groups are sometimes imprecise. Kevin Vortmann's performance as the Celebrant is reminiscent Alan Titus' original portrayal, both in his pure vocal tone and spirited acting, though his voice loses volume and presence in the recording, no doubt due to staging. In fact, the only serious problem with this version is the variability of the sound, which makes some of the vocals seem remote. As an artifact of its time and as the most accurate account of the score, Bernstein's recording is decidedly the more valuable document, but Nézet-Séguin's reading demonstrates that Mass is still relevant for today's performers and audiences.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 12:12:40 PM
LOL.  I can't take him serious.  The opening Kyrie is one of the pre-recorded sections and is meant to be purposely chaotic.  It doesn't sound "distant" to my ears.  The choirs sound very good to me, the Alleluia, for example is flawlesslly executed, Swingle Singer style.

I've never relied on Hurwitz as a critic.

Here's the Allmusic review, which I think is more accurate:

The All Music Guide doesn’t really seem too positive to be honest. I hate any review that pits the recording being reviewed up against the classic performance from Bernstein. I mean I get that Bernstein’s Columbia performance is ‘the one to have’ but if reviewers are constantly referring back to the original recording, then it makes me wonder why even bother with a new recording if it simply doesn’t and won’t ever measure up to the classic recording? In my experience, there are reasons why people acquire other recordings and that reason is to hear the work anew, but what’s the point if the Bernstein recording is the best one?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 12:19:13 PM
I seem to flock to these works of Bernstein’s that nobody (for whatever reasons) don’t talk about much like Halil and Songfest. Both of these works demonstrate a composer who could really write just about anything he wanted and in any style and it still sounds unmistakably like himself.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 12:30:52 PM
The All Music Guide doesn’t really seem too positive to be honest. I hate any review that pits the recording being reviewed up against the classic performance from Bernstein. I mean I get that Bernstein’s Columbia performance is ‘the one to have’ but if reviewers are constantly referring back to the original recording, then it makes me wonder why even bother with a new recording if it simply doesn’t and won’t ever measure up to the classic recording? In my experience, there are reasons why people acquire other recordings and that reason is to hear the work anew, but what’s the point if the Bernstein recording is the best one?

For me it's not about finding the "best" recording.  I didn't even want to rank the six recordings, and it was very hard since the differences were pretty slim in my mind.  What it comes down to me is the different performances, and each one is different, and each one has its strengths.  Only the Davies recording, I felt, was not a real contender. 

Bernstein's is the reference recording because of his involvement and the fact that it was the premier recording with all the excitement and authenticity  that conveys. Also, Alan Titus is near perfect for the role, but Jublilant Sykes comes close and brings a different quality to the role beyond what Titus offers.  Same with Vortmann with Netzet-Seguin.  Jerry Hadley took me some getting used to, for me, but his performance is actually really very good. Yes, it is operatic in style, but it has a warnth and strenght which also brings a nice quality to Nagano's recording.

Those four are all real close, IMO.

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 12:49:40 PM
For me it's not about finding the "best" recording.  I didn't even want to rank the six recordings, and it was very hard since the differences were pretty slim in my mind.  What it comes down to me is the different performances, and each one is different, and each one has its strengths.  Only the Davies recording, I felt, was not a real contender. 

Bernstein's is the reference recording because of his involvement and the fact that it was the premier recording with all the excitement and authenticity  that conveys. Also, Alan Titus is near perfect for the role, but Jublilant Sykes comes close and brings a different quality to the role beyond what Titus offers.  Same with Vortmann with Netzet-Seguin.  Jerry Hadley took me some getting used to, for me, but his performance is actually really very good. Yes, it is operatic in style, but it has a warnth and strenght which also brings a nice quality to Nagano's recording.

Those four are all real close, IMO.

Besides Bernstein’s recording, I own Alsop and Nézet-Séguin. I’ve heard the Alsop twice maybe and I recall enjoying it, but wouldn’t rank it above the Bernstein. Anyway, let’s get outside of the Mass, what do you think of works like Halil or Songfest? I also feel that the piano and chamber music doesn’t get enough attention. Of course, I love West Side Story, the symphonies, Serenade, On the Waterfront Suite, Trouble in Tahiti, Facsimile, On the Town, Wonderful Town, amongst other works.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 02:15:49 PM
... let’s get outside of the Mass, what do you think of works like Halil or Songfest? I also feel that the piano and chamber music doesn’t get enough attention. Of course, I love West Side Story, the symphonies, Serenade, On the Waterfront Suite, Trouble in Tahiti, Facsimile, On the Town, Wonderful Town, amongst other works.

Songfest, except for a couple of sections doesn't knock me out, and Halil as Bernstein's 12-tone work, and while interesting is not a work I listen to much.  I really think his metier was theater music, so the stage works are my favorites - but I really like his Symphony No. 2 "Age of Anxiety".  His solo and chamber works seem somewhat slight in comparison, although enjoyable.

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs is very much fun; too bad Woody Herman never got around to recording it (Bernstein took it back because he never got paid from Herman). On the Waterfront is good, but again, I don't find myself gravitating to it often.

I have never heard a work of his that I didn't like, but there are a handful that I really love above all the others.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 17, 2020, 03:45:43 PM
For me it's not about finding the "best" recording.  I didn't even want to rank the six recordings, and it was very hard since the differences were pretty slim in my mind.  What it comes down to me is the different performances, and each one is different, and each one has its strengths.  Only the Davies recording, I felt, was not a real contender. 

Bernstein's is the reference recording because of his involvement and the fact that it was the premier recording with all the excitement and authenticity  that conveys. Also, Alan Titus is near perfect for the role, but Jublilant Sykes comes close and brings a different quality to the role beyond what Titus offers.  Same with Vortmann with Netzet-Seguin.  Jerry Hadley took me some getting used to, for me, but his performance is actually really very good. Yes, it is operatic in style, but it has a warnth and strenght which also brings a nice quality to Nagano's recording.

Those four are all real close, IMO.

San Antone - we agree a LOT about the sheer quality of Bernstein the composer but we'll have to agree to disagree about the technical quality of the DG/Nezet-Seguin recording.  I was (and remain) astounded by how poor the DG sound is.  I contributed one of the Amazon.com reviews where I wrote; 

"I don't write Amazon reviews these days. But to stop anyone else wasting their money I'm writing this one. On paper this seemed a sure-fire winner; top-notch conductor (allegedly conducting a favourite piece), top-notch American orchestra with these kind of music and style in their bones, Bernstein's old label DG finally making a recording of this work to mark his centenary (I wonder why of all his works Bernstein did not re-record this for DG?) ..... what could possibly go wrong.

Put to one side whether you think the work is genius or rubbish recycled kitsch. I love it so I really wanted to love this new recording too. The BIG BIG problem is the DG engineering. They simply have not been able to cope with the multiple acoustic layers (literally) of the work recorded live. The sound floor goes up and down, the various playing and singing ensembles never sound fully integrated either with themselves or each other. In the big climaxes the sound is simply congested. Balances are odd - percussion can be very clear, an organ pedal will suddenly blare out but then other details or lines are crassly balanced. There is quite a lot of extraneous audience noise and again the scale of this work live leads to problems of tuning and ensemble that you simply don't expect to hear these days - let alone from performers of this level. A couple of pictures in the booklet from these performances show the orchestra in a semi-covered pit with the band onstage together with semi-staging for the various soloists and choirs.

Nezet-Seguin does nothing with the work that isn't done better elsewhere (much better on the original - and simply with more polish on Alsop's Naxos set or indeed Jarvi on Chandos). The solo singers are no match in terms of vocal personality or engagement with the originals. Like the other reviewer I much prefer a baritone as the celebrant and again Titus easily trumps the vocal affectations of Jubilant Sykes for Alsop. But that said tenor Kevin Vortmann is very committed and a couple of times the tessitura of the part means that he can sings lines in full voice where Titus has to falsetto. But then conversely he struggles in the "de profundis" section to ward the end of the work. But as a tenor he lacks the authority a baritone brings and also struggles to make dramatic sense of the extended "mad scene" towards the end of the work. The key (and also the problem for performers) with this work is its dizzying eclecticism - you need to be as comfortable rocking a ballad as you do singing a near atonal angular vocal line. Very few people can do both - if you needed proof of that listen to this

For those interested, as with all the other recent recordings (in fact all except the original) this uses the revised text - I like the unashamed naffness of the original personally.

This really is strikingly poor - I am genuinely surprised that the DG production team and indeed Nezet-Seguin sanctioned this for release."
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 17, 2020, 03:48:09 PM
Songfest, except for a couple of sections doesn't knock me out, and Halil as Bernstein's 12-tone work, and while interesting is not a work I listen to much.  I really think his metier was theater music, so the stage works are my favorites - but I really like his Symphony No. 2 "Age of Anxiety".  His solo and chamber works seem somewhat slight in comparison, although enjoyable.

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs is very much fun; too bad Woody Herman never got around to recording it (Bernstein took it back because he never got paid from Herman). On the Waterfront is good, but again, I don't find myself gravitating to it often.

I have never heard a work of his that I didn't like, but there are a handful that I really love above all the others.

Again we agree San Antone!  Songfest leaves me mildly interested but not excited in the way much/most Bernstein does.  I agree completely about "theatre" being Bernstein's real strength.  My own personal blind spot is Dybbuk which never fails to under-engage me and goodness me I've tried
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 04:31:45 PM
San Antone - we agree a LOT about the sheer quality of Bernstein the composer but we'll have to agree to disagree about the technical quality of the DG/Nezet-Seguin recording.  I was (and remain) astounded by how poor the DG sound is.  I contributed one of the Amazon.com reviews where I wrote; 

"I don't write Amazon reviews these days. But to stop anyone else wasting their money I'm writing this one. On paper this seemed a sure-fire winner; top-notch conductor (allegedly conducting a favourite piece), top-notch American orchestra with these kind of music and style in their bones, Bernstein's old label DG finally making a recording of this work to mark his centenary (I wonder why of all his works Bernstein did not re-record this for DG?) ..... what could possibly go wrong.

Put to one side whether you think the work is genius or rubbish recycled kitsch. I love it so I really wanted to love this new recording too. The BIG BIG problem is the DG engineering. They simply have not been able to cope with the multiple acoustic layers (literally) of the work recorded live. The sound floor goes up and down, the various playing and singing ensembles never sound fully integrated either with themselves or each other. In the big climaxes the sound is simply congested. Balances are odd - percussion can be very clear, an organ pedal will suddenly blare out but then other details or lines are crassly balanced. There is quite a lot of extraneous audience noise and again the scale of this work live leads to problems of tuning and ensemble that you simply don't expect to hear these days - let alone from performers of this level. A couple of pictures in the booklet from these performances show the orchestra in a semi-covered pit with the band onstage together with semi-staging for the various soloists and choirs.

Nezet-Seguin does nothing with the work that isn't done better elsewhere (much better on the original - and simply with more polish on Alsop's Naxos set or indeed Jarvi on Chandos). The solo singers are no match in terms of vocal personality or engagement with the originals. Like the other reviewer I much prefer a baritone as the celebrant and again Titus easily trumps the vocal affectations of Jubilant Sykes for Alsop. But that said tenor Kevin Vortmann is very committed and a couple of times the tessitura of the part means that he can sings lines in full voice where Titus has to falsetto. But then conversely he struggles in the "de profundis" section to ward the end of the work. But as a tenor he lacks the authority a baritone brings and also struggles to make dramatic sense of the extended "mad scene" towards the end of the work. The key (and also the problem for performers) with this work is its dizzying eclecticism - you need to be as comfortable rocking a ballad as you do singing a near atonal angular vocal line. Very few people can do both - if you needed proof of that listen to this

For those interested, as with all the other recent recordings (in fact all except the original) this uses the revised text - I like the unashamed naffness of the original personally.

This really is strikingly poor - I am genuinely surprised that the DG production team and indeed Nezet-Seguin sanctioned this for release."

Well, you obviously know the work and the recordings, and you also place much more emphasis on evaluating the recorded sound than I do - so I can't fault anything you wrote.  But I didn't notice the sound being especially bad in any event.  It is a live recording, and I've listened to many live opera recordings which are a lot worse; some Callas recordings are judged her best and they have horrible sound.

But I've never placed much emphasis on engineering.  I am the opposite of an audiophile, i.e. I don't mean I prefer lousy sound, it's just that I am very forgiving and can hear through whatever sound there is in order to listen to the performance. 

And I still think Nezet-Seguin's gets very good performances out of his group.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 04:47:37 PM
Again we agree San Antone!  Songfest leaves me mildly interested but not excited in the way much/most Bernstein does.  I agree completely about "theatre" being Bernstein's real strength.  My own personal blind spot is Dybbuk which never fails to under-engage me and goodness me I've tried

I had never heard Dybbuk, but since you brought it up I decided to listen to it.  Very interesting work.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mirror Image on March 17, 2020, 04:59:22 PM
Songfest, except for a couple of sections doesn't knock me out, and Halil as Bernstein's 12-tone work, and while interesting is not a work I listen to much.  I really think his metier was theater music, so the stage works are my favorites - but I really like his Symphony No. 2 "Age of Anxiety".  His solo and chamber works seem somewhat slight in comparison, although enjoyable.

Prelude, Fugue and Riffs is very much fun; too bad Woody Herman never got around to recording it (Bernstein took it back because he never got paid from Herman). On the Waterfront is good, but again, I don't find myself gravitating to it often.

I have never heard a work of his that I didn't like, but there are a handful that I really love above all the others.

According to Bernstein, all of his music could be considered theatre music. So I’ll take his word over everyone else's. Well, I finished listening to Mass and while it’s enjoyable, it’s not a work I’m absolutely enthralled by and find it actually one of his weaker works overall. I find the hodgepodge of musical styles interesting, but not interesting in a Schnittkian kind of way. I won’t be listening to this work again for a long-time.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 17, 2020, 05:42:40 PM
I had never heard Dybbuk, but since you brought it up I decided to listen to it.  Very interesting work.

I should revisit that.

Fact is, I should locate that Sony box and listen to the Mass.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 17, 2020, 08:02:15 PM
I should revisit that.

Fact is, I should locate that Sony box and listen to the Mass.

I am going to spend some time with Candide and a few other works I've not given much attention to, like A Quiet Place, Dybbuk, Halil and Songfest.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 18, 2020, 01:57:46 AM
I've been listening to Chichester Psalms and the "Jeremiah" Symphony a lot lately. The second movement of the former and the finale of the latter are both very beautiful. Definitely proof of his compositional talents to any doubters of his worth as a composer. I'm glad that Bernstein is coming to be seen in a more serious light. It's almost a shame that he spent so much of his life conducting the music of others. He could have written so much more.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mookalafalas on March 18, 2020, 02:10:37 AM
I recently saw a performance of "Happy Town" on DVD. It was on stage but not performed as a play--just doing the songs in the "spirit" of the play, I guess. Anyway, it was delightful.  Sort of "on the Town" meets "Our Town", if that makes sense--catchy tunes, humor (corny!), but trying to give a portrait (cleaned up and idealized) of small town American life at mid-century. Of course it was very white and Norman Rockwell, but it was very enjoyable.   
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 05:20:16 AM
I've been listening to Chichester Psalms and the "Jeremiah" Symphony a lot lately. The second movement of the former and the finale of the latter are both very beautiful. Definitely proof of his compositional talents to any doubters of his worth as a composer. I'm glad that Bernstein is coming to be seen in a more serious light. It's almost a shame that he spent so much of his life conducting the music of others. He could have written so much more.

He said late in life that his one regret was that he had not done more composing.  During the eleven years he was primary conductor of the NYP he wrote two just works, Chichester Psalms and the Kaddish symphony.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 05:20:41 AM
I recently saw a performance of "Happy Town" on DVD. It was on stage but not performed as a play--just doing the songs in the "spirit" of the play, I guess. Anyway, it was delightful.  Sort of "on the Town" meets "Our Town", if that makes sense--catchy tunes, humor (corny!), but trying to give a portrait (cleaned up and idealized) of small town American life at mid-century. Of course it was very white and Norman Rockwell, but it was very enjoyable.   

As far as I can tell, Leonard Bernstein had nothing to do with the musical "Happy Town" which apparently had five performances in 1959 (music was by Gordon Duffy, lyrics by Harry Haldane, and book by Max Hampton, with additional songs by Paul Nassau). 

Are you maybe getting it confused with either On the Town or Wonderful Town?

Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 18, 2020, 06:14:25 AM
I am going to spend some time with Candide and a few other works I've not given much attention to, like A Quiet Place, Dybbuk, Halil and Songfest.

I think Candide is one of the best things Bernstein did. But I greatly prefer the original Broadway recording to any of the remakes.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 07:20:38 AM
I think Candide is one of the best things Bernstein did. But I greatly prefer the original Broadway recording to any of the remakes.

There essentially three versions: the original, Harold Prince's "opera house production" and Bernstein's concert version, which restored the music which had been dropped from the other two productions.

I will be listening to them all and may never choose just one of these three as a "favorite".  Obviously the original is definitive, as is usually the case with Bernstein, but the Prince revision has many fine attributes from the sampling I've done, and I want to hear the music Bernstein included in his "complete" version.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mookalafalas on March 18, 2020, 09:50:35 AM
As far as I can tell, Leonard Bernstein had nothing to do with the musical "Happy Town" which apparently had five performances in 1959 (music was by Gordon Duffy, lyrics by Harry Haldane, and book by Max Hampton, with additional songs by Paul Nassau). 

Are you maybe getting it confused with either On the Town or Wonderful Town?

    Yeah, I sure am :-[  I meant Wonderful Town. Actually, I don't think I've ever even heard of "Happy Town" and was just careless. Sorry about that.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 10:14:03 AM
    Yeah, I sure am :-[  I meant Wonderful Town. Actually, I don't think I've ever even heard of "Happy Town" and was just careless. Sorry about that.

Yeah, I had to Google it.   ;D   I'd be interested in seeing a DVD of Wonderful Town, and might see if I can find it on Amazon.

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 18, 2020, 10:18:31 AM
I think Candide is one of the best things Bernstein did. But I greatly prefer the original Broadway recording to any of the remakes.

Larry, great to "see" you! How are you doing? (I do need to check Candide out)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 18, 2020, 11:45:30 AM
    Yeah, I sure am :-[  I meant Wonderful Town. Actually, I don't think I've ever even heard of "Happy Town" and was just careless. Sorry about that.

The "Wrong Note Rag" is a wonderfully joyful song in Wonderful Town.  Another Bernstein show - the forgotten show really - is his version of Peter Pan.  There is one song there - "Build My House" which is quintessential Bernstein - seemingly simple but of melting beauty
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 12:29:32 PM
I've been listening to Dybbuk the last couple of days.  What  fascinating work!  Much more dissonant than Bernstein is usually prone to write - but the musical argument is expertly carried off.  It appears that he used numerology from the Kabbalah in constructing his melodic motives.

Quote
By Kabbalistic tradition, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has its own numerical value. The name of the female lead in Dybbuk, Leah, is equal to the numerical value of thirty-six. Bernstein focused his composition on the divisions of thirty-six and eighteen (the numerical value of the Hebrew word chai (חַי), meaning "life"), each multiples of the nine—the number of notes including the repetition of the top note in a symmetrical octatonic scale. (Robert Jacobson in Leonard Bernstein, Dybbuk (Complete Ballet), with the New York City Ballet Orchestra, Columbia M 3308, 1974. record.)

Quote
For me, the score displays the skill and imagination of a composer at the peak of his powers. Motivic manipulations, counterpoint and orchestration coalesce into a singular and original sound filled with heat and logic, passion and calculation. The sensibility is not American sounding. Instead the composer integrates both the folk-song idiom and the Talmudic deliberations of his Eastern European forebears. He draws upon the numerology of Kabbalah, finding musical equivalents to letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and presents us with a forceful drama quite unlike any other work by him or, for that matter, by anyone else. This is a masterpiece and its place in the sun will someday arise.

– Jack Gottlieb (Working With Bernstein)

Very well done.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 18, 2020, 02:10:58 PM
Dybbuk is terrific!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 18, 2020, 03:45:26 PM
Listening to Symphony No.2 "the Age of Anxiety" now. This is a really cool work, a highly developed symphonie concertante for piano & orchestra. I think it's a big step up (in ambition, anyway) from the first symphony. I like what I'm hearing. I have really enjoyed everything I've heard of Bernstein so far. I'm looking forward to exploring Mass in depth. I think I will buy the original recording of it today. I am curious to hear Dybbuk too after this interesting discussion about it today. What is the recording to get for this one? Bernstein/Sony?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 04:05:43 PM
Listening to Symphony No.2 "the Age of Anxiety" now. This is a really cool work, a highly developed symphonie concertante for piano & orchestra. I think it's a big step up (in ambition, anyway) from the first symphony. I like what I'm hearing. I have really enjoyed everything I've heard of Bernstein so far. I'm looking forward to exploring Mass in depth. I think I will buy the original recording of it today. I am curious to hear Dybbuk too after this interesting discussion about it today. What is the recording to get for this one? Bernstein/Sony?

This one is very good, it is the original with Bernstein conducting

(https://leonardbernstein.com/uploads/works/images/117775027-1478628318-440xH.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 18, 2020, 04:05:59 PM
Listening to Symphony No.2 "the Age of Anxiety" now. This is a really cool work, a highly developed symphonie concertante for piano & orchestra. I think it's a big step up (in ambition, anyway) from the first symphony. I like what I'm hearing. I have really enjoyed everything I've heard of Bernstein so far. I'm looking forward to exploring Mass in depth. I think I will buy the original recording of it today. I am curious to hear Dybbuk too after this interesting discussion about it today. What is the recording to get for this one? Bernstein/Sony?

The Age of Anxiety is one of my favorite Bernstein scores!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 18, 2020, 04:08:34 PM
Bernstein wrote three de facto concertos: for piano (Age of Anxiety), violin (Serenade) and flute (Halil).  It is only a quirk in how he titled the works that they do not use the term.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 19, 2020, 04:51:46 AM
This one is very good, it is the original with Bernstein conducting

(https://leonardbernstein.com/uploads/works/images/117775027-1478628318-440xH.jpg)

This is the version to go for.  Better than the Naxos alternative and Bernstein did not record it again complete when he did his DG remakes.  I know others here praise the skill (which is undoubted) of construction in this piece with more numerology than you can shake your fist at.  But for me that is the problem - too much head and not enough heart.  And I like Bernstein when the latter rules!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 19, 2020, 06:00:54 AM
This is the version to go for.  Better than the Naxos alternative and Bernstein did not record it again complete when he did his DG remakes.  I know others here praise the skill (which is undoubted) of construction in this piece with more numerology than you can shake your fist at.  But for me that is the problem - too much head and not enough heart.  And I like Bernstein when the latter rules!

Actually, FWIW; The numerology strikes me as simply a compositional curiosity; I am convinced purely by the musical result;  I feel that, rather than it being a matter of "head over heart," the work possesses a kind of ritual austerity, which I agree is not often to be found in his music.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 19, 2020, 06:11:37 AM
Actually, FWIW; The numerology strikes me as simply a compositional curiosity; I am convinced purely by the musical result;  I feel that, rather than it being a matter of "head over heart," the work possesses a kind of ritual austerity, which I agree is not often to be found in his music.

I agree; I was surprised to read about the Kabbalah numerology aspect and knowing about it did not affect how I heard the work. 

 8)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 19, 2020, 08:36:44 AM
the work possesses a kind of ritual austerity, which I agree is not often to be found in his music.

Karl - that's a really interesting/apt turn of phrase and with that in mind I will give Dybbuk another go!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 20, 2020, 05:23:06 AM
Larry, great to "see" you! How are you doing? (I do need to check Candide out)

Hi, Karl! Are you fully recovered from your stroke?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: (poco) Sforzando on March 20, 2020, 05:24:44 AM
There essentially three versions: the original, Harold Prince's "opera house production" and Bernstein's concert version, which restored the music which had been dropped from the other two productions.

I will be listening to them all and may never choose just one of these three as a "favorite".  Obviously the original is definitive, as is usually the case with Bernstein, but the Prince revision has many fine attributes from the sampling I've done, and I want to hear the music Bernstein included in his "complete" version.

The original cast recording does not include all the music published in the original vocal score, which I own. I saw the Harold Prince many years ago and was disappointed by comparison with the original.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 20, 2020, 06:21:27 AM
Hi, Karl! Are you fully recovered from your stroke?

Doing better and better, the left hand and arm are still a work-in-progress, thanks for asking!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 22, 2020, 05:13:16 AM
Listening to Mass for the first time, almost finished. Wow, it's a masterpiece. Orchestration-wise, structurally, harmonically, it's a work of genius. There are segments that are really beautiful: the Sanctus, the Lord's Prayer, the Devotions before Mass; there are stormier moments: the Meditations, the Agnus Dei, etc. It really celebrates a full spectrum of religious experience, even though it's clearly written by a skeptic. Its blending of styles is masterful, even if his mastery of some styles is less convincing (ie. I wasn't super impressed with his use of the "blues singers", which sounded more like campy musical theater than actual blues, but that may have been the intention). Parts of the music are goofy, other parts are sincere and beautiful. I may have had to suspend some of my prejudices against musical theatricality to enjoy it as much as I have, but I am fully convinced of Bernstein's vision here.

For the record I am listening to the original recording.

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lzD1-bt8L._SL500_.jpg)

Thanks again to those here whose enthusiasm for the work sparked my curiosity, it's proven rewarding. And thanks especially to San Antone for creating a comprehensive listening guide which breaks down the different recordings. Here is a link in case anyone wants to read it again without digging through the thread:

https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/ (https://fdleone.com/2020/03/15/leonard-bernsteins-mass-newer-recordings/)

Looking forward to returning to it intermittently in the months and years to come. I suspect it will be a long time before I decide to branch out to another recording; I'm completely satisfied with the original. Great sound, great performances.

Anyone else listening to Mass on Sunday?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 23, 2020, 02:44:59 PM
There are a few full performances of Mass on YouTube:

Kristjan Jarvi

https://www.youtube.com/v/9tjsKzhpSwE

Wayne Marshall, the Orchestre de Paris and its choir perform, alongside the Aedes ensemble and the baritone Jubilant Sykes

https://www.youtube.com/v/5imPUq39jlg

Jerry Hadley, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Kent Nagano

https://www.youtube.com/v/RL96d80DJRI

Vojtěch Dyk

https://www.youtube.com/v/4Q1AruAl9Ro
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 23, 2020, 03:13:55 PM
Who knew?
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 24, 2020, 07:25:17 AM
Well, as our San Antone has gently pushed me down the rabbit hole, I've started reading Paul Laird's Leonard Bernstein in the Critical Lives series, and, predictably inhaling it.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 24, 2020, 07:59:40 AM
Well, as our San Antone has gently pushed me down the rabbit hole, I've started reading Paul Laird's Leonard Bernstein in the Critical Lives series, and, predictably inhaling it.

 :D  That sounds like a good one to follow the one I've been reading, and almost finished:

The Humphrey Burton bio, "Leonard Bernstein"

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51yqonUYRdL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on March 29, 2020, 11:36:35 AM
A big thumbs up from me for both powerful and sensitive performances of IMO two great symphonies. Just the kind of inspiriting music that I need to hear at the moment:
(http://)
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 29, 2020, 04:30:43 PM
A big thumbs up from me for both powerful and sensitive performances of IMO two great symphonies. Just the kind of inspiriting music that I need to hear at the moment:


I've posted numerous times of my great fondness for The Age of Anxiety.  In recently revisiting both it and Jeremiah, the latter has much risen in my esteem as well.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vers la flamme on March 29, 2020, 05:48:47 PM
Thoughts on the Kaddish? It does not seem to get as much love as the two earlier symphonies.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on March 30, 2020, 01:31:50 AM
Thoughts on the Kaddish? It does not seem to get as much love as the two earlier symphonies.

Any comments that start; "when I was younger...." don't bode well.  But that is very much how I feel about "Kaddish".  I loved the original LP version and played it to oblivion.  A lot of the success of the original is the complete commitment to the spoken text by Bernstein's then wife Felicia Montealegre.  According to one biographer, Bernstein wrote the work as a kind of apology to her for all his "indiscretions".  Jennie Tourel as the solo mezzo in that version is great too (she's a wonderful singer in the Bernstein conducts Bernstein "Jeremiah" as well).

Dramatically it seems to follow a similar arc to Mass moving from certainty, to doubt/rejection to a kind of acceptance.  As ever, Bernstein is able to conjure up some wonderfully effective music with downright great tunes.  But no other narrator has made me do anything but squirm.  Claire Bloom for Alsop chooses a more detached approach which is OK but lacks the connection/passion that Montealegre finds.  The Bernstein/DG remake is not nearly as successful either.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 30, 2020, 04:28:18 AM
[snip]  But no other narrator has made me do anything but squirm.

I went to Symphony Hall to hear the piece performed live, but my chief takeaway was, indeed, squiring at the text.  I should revisit Lenny's own earlier recording.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on March 30, 2020, 04:54:12 AM
Any comments that start; "when I was younger...." don't bode well.  But that is very much how I feel about "Kaddish".  I loved the original LP version and played it to oblivion.  A lot of the success of the original is the complete commitment to the spoken text by Bernstein's then wife Felicia Montealegre.  According to one biographer, Bernstein wrote the work as a kind of apology to her for all his "indiscretions".  Jennie Tourel as the solo mezzo in that version is great too (she's a wonderful singer in the Bernstein conducts Bernstein "Jeremiah" as well).

Dramatically it seems to follow a similar arc to Mass moving from certainty, to doubt/rejection to a kind of acceptance.  As ever, Bernstein is able to conjure up some wonderfully effective music with downright great tunes.  But no other narrator has made me do anything but squirm.  Claire Bloom for Alsop chooses a more detached approach which is OK but lacks the connection/passion that Montealegre finds.  The Bernstein/DG remake is not nearly as successful either.

I have spent less time with Kaddish than any of his other major works, I suppose mainly because of the text/narration.  But from the listening that I have done, the orchestral writing and themes, I think, rank with his best music.  I do agree that his first recording (as is so often the case) is the best way to hear this work.

One aside, Felicia Montealegre was his wife until her death (not just "at the time"), and Kaddish was written primarily as a response to the assassination of JFK, and formally dedicated to Kennedy.  But Bernstein did feel deeply guilty over his treatment of his wife primarily for the last two years of her life and during her final illness (to be fair, she had not told him of her cancer at first) when he violated his long-standing discretion concerning his homosexual affairs.  He continued to feel remorse until his own death.  One of his last remarks shortly before his own death was in reference to his wife as the love of his life and his most important relationship.

Bernstein was a polymath, a complex and passionate man with a huge appetite for life, a man addicted to seducing anyone and everyone with whom he came into contact - all of which informed his music-making.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: vandermolen on March 30, 2020, 07:37:06 AM
I've posted numerous times of my great fondness for The Age of Anxiety.  In recently revisiting both it and Jeremiah, the latter has much risen in my esteem as well.

Good to know Karl.
I expect that you'd like the new Arctic SO recording.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on March 30, 2020, 12:49:51 PM
I went to Symphony Hall to hear the piece performed live, but my chief takeaway was, indeed, squiring at the text.  I should revisit Lenny's own earlier recording.

And, today, understanding that that first experience of the piece could well be a mix of "my trip" and a given performance, I listened at last to Lenny's recording.  Far from having any problem with it, I embrace it unreservedly.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on April 01, 2020, 12:09:17 AM
What's the phrase...... the Devil makes comparative lists for idle hands....  Clearly too much time at the moment.

It was San Antone's review of the available versions of Mass that tweaked my interest.  I've now heard the newest version of "Mass" and overall liked it more than San Antone (who placed it last in his list of the 6 available recordings).  One observation was how slow Russell Davies was - something which did not hit me at all when listening (I agree with many of SA's other observations though - I like the Celebrant's pop-style voice although it means he does not have the technique for all Bernstein's demands) hence a comparative table. The result is quite interesting.  Yes, overall R-D is slowest, but only 4 minutes slower in a 100 minute piece than Bernstein, in the main because at 2 points - Meditation 1 & "Fraction" he chooses challenging (and for me effective) tempi.  Elsewhere it is nip and tuck - yes "Epistle" is not good but its the weakest section in the whole work anyway.  The "fast" Jarvi is only a minute and a bit quicker than original Bernstein but ideal Alsop is not far off FIVE minutes quicker than Bernstein - she is the quickest reading of all!

My conclusion is that Mass is too big, too diverse in its musical styles and content to ever achieve an ideal performance which is likely to end up an amalgum of all!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: San Antone on April 01, 2020, 05:35:59 AM
What's the phrase...... the Devil makes comparative lists for idle hands....  Clearly too much time at the moment.

It was San Antone's review of the available versions of Mass that tweaked my interest.  I've now heard the newest version of "Mass" and overall liked it more than San Antone (who placed it last in his list of the 6 available recordings).  One observation was how slow Russell Davies was - something which did not hit me at all when listening (I agree with many of SA's other observations though - I like the Celebrant's pop-style voice although it means he does not have the technique for all Bernstein's demands) hence a comparative table. The result is quite interesting.  Yes, overall R-D is slowest, but only 4 minutes slower in a 100 minute piece than Bernstein, in the main because at 2 points - Meditation 1 & "Fraction" he chooses challenging (and for me effective) tempi.  Elsewhere it is nip and tuck - yes "Epistle" is not good but its the weakest section in the whole work anyway.  The "fast" Jarvi is only a minute and a bit quicker than original Bernstein but ideal Alsop is not far off FIVE minutes quicker than Bernstein - she is the quickest reading of all!

My conclusion is that Mass is too big, too diverse in its musical styles and content to ever achieve an ideal performance which is likely to end up an amalgum of all!

I would agree that Mass is such a large and multi-faceted work that any single conductor may not be able to manage its demands in an equally adept manner, however, I think Bernstein came closest.

I didn't come out and say it, but I thought the range of difference in the six recordings was fairly narrow, and in my mind kept flipping the order of my list (I generally hate making ranked lists).  My problem with Davies was not simply the speed of his tempi, but it was a sense of a lack of energy or lift in some of the sections, coupled with a slower tempo which gave an impression of the performance being flaccid or lackluster. 

But I am sure to revisit his recording and may have a very different response.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on April 01, 2020, 07:10:54 AM
I would agree that Mass is such a large and multi-faceted work that any single conductor may not be able to manage its demands in an equally adept manner, however, I think Bernstein came closest.

I didn't come out and say it, but I thought the range of difference in the six recordings was fairly narrow, and in my mind kept flipping the order of my list (I generally hate making ranked lists).  My problem with Davies was not simply the speed of his tempi, but it was a sense of a lack of energy or lift in some of the sections, coupled with a slower tempo which gave met an impression of the performance being flaccid or lackluster. 

But I am sure to revisit his recording and may have a very different response.

I'm with you on "best of" lists - pointless because my response is by definition subjective.  One thing to consider - how good it is that there are now as many as 6 versions of Mass to shuffle into any order! 

I've just ordered the Bernstein conducts Bernstein Sony box because its so cheap and also I've found with other sets in this series the 24 bit remastering does seem to have made a difference to the sound.  Of course I might well be deluding myself with a wholly subjective assessment there too........
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 01, 2020, 08:02:39 AM
I'm with you on "best of" lists - pointless because my response is by definition subjective.  One thing to consider - how good it is that there are now as many as 6 versions of Mass to shuffle into any order! 

I've just ordered the Bernstein conducts Bernstein Sony box because its so cheap and also I've found with other sets in this series the 24 bit remastering does seem to have made a difference to the sound.  Of course I might well be deluding myself with a wholly subjective assessment there too........

I've got that box, and love it!
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Biffo on April 01, 2020, 08:16:35 AM
I'm with you on "best of" lists - pointless because my response is by definition subjective.  One thing to consider - how good it is that there are now as many as 6 versions of Mass to shuffle into any order! 

I've just ordered the Bernstein conducts Bernstein Sony box because its so cheap and also I've found with other sets in this series the 24 bit remastering does seem to have made a difference to the sound.  Of course I might well be deluding myself with a wholly subjective assessment there too........

Has the whole set been remastered? I have several of the individual boxes and not all have been.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Roasted Swan on April 01, 2020, 10:16:50 AM
Has the whole set been remastered? I have several of the individual boxes and not all have been.

I assume so from this image (oops - that's big!;

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71Kl4zic1pL._AC_SL1155_.jpg)

I previously has this music split across these 3 sets -

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/417XREKPTEL._AC_UY218_ML3_.jpg)

this one for the symphonies etc and the other 2 "theatre works".  The couplings on the discs are different in the set I've just bought but everything is there EXCEPT for the studio cast recording of "On the Town" which is very good so I'll hang onto that box.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Biffo on April 02, 2020, 01:31:17 AM
I assume so from this image (oops - that's big!;

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71Kl4zic1pL._AC_SL1155_.jpg)

I previously has this music split across these 3 sets -

(https://m.media-amazon.com/images/I/417XREKPTEL._AC_UY218_ML3_.jpg)

this one for the symphonies etc and the other 2 "theatre works".  The couplings on the discs are different in the set I've just bought but everything is there EXCEPT for the studio cast recording of "On the Town" which is very good so I'll hang onto that box.

Apologies for not reading your post correctly and wasting your time. For some reason I got it into my head you were referring to the big Sony Bernstein box. I should have twigged when you said how cheap it was though I suppose £100 for 100 discs is good value. I have briefly considered buying one of the big boxes - the other being the Symphony Edition - but decided there was too much duplication with what I had already plus a lot of stuff I am not really interested in.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: k a rl h e nn i ng on April 02, 2020, 04:23:51 AM
Apologies for not reading your post correctly and wasting your time. For some reason I got it into my head you were referring to the big Sony Bernstein box. I should have twigged when you said how cheap it was though I suppose £100 for 100 discs is good value. I have briefly considered buying one of the big boxes - the other being the Symphony Edition - but decided there was too much duplication with what I had already plus a lot of stuff I am not really interested in.

Ah, I do have both of those and enjoy them a great deal.
Title: Re: Leonard Bernstein 1918-1990
Post by: Mookalafalas on April 05, 2020, 01:11:30 AM
:D  That sounds like a good one to follow the one I've been reading, and almost finished:

The Humphrey Burton bio, "Leonard Bernstein"

(https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51yqonUYRdL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg)

  This is a really good bio.  "Great musician" bios are hit and miss, from a writing standpoint, but this seems really well balanced and well-crafted. The author is good at the sentence and paragraph level, which often isn't the case, knew Bernstein quite well personally, did his research, and still can take off the gloves when needed.  For full disclosure, however, I must admit I put it down several months ago (a year?) 53% of the way in, and haven't yet come back to it.  It didn't get boring or anything, I just got sidetracked (I have 600 books in my Kindle). Bios tend to become less compelling once the person has become rich, famous and successful. Mabye that's why the recent Thomas Edison bio starts with his death and then goes backwards in time...