INKPOT#52 CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS: Bernstein – Recommended Listening
Onwards from the Debut
More CD Recommendations from Various Labels
by Adrian Tan
(Signature image from the Leonard Bernstein Tribute Page)
- New York Philharmonic Debut – Leonard Bernstein. Strauss Don Quixote, Schumann Manfred Overture and Rosza Theme, Variations and Finale. N2K 1007This was reported in the New York Daily news on this glorious day in music history:
“So, youthful Leonard Bernstein stepped into his place. No chance to run through a rehearsal — and a nation-wide audience listening in to his debut.
“Without a trace of nervousness, he led the big orchestra through [the program]. The applause was warmer after each number, deafening at the end of the concert. The first cellist flung his arms around the conductor and kissed him on the cheek. …”
- – New York Daily News, Nov. 15, 1943
Recorded “live” November 14, 1943, this album captures and documents this historical moment. The 25-year-old Leonard Bernstein was still far from the peak of his great musicianship in the 60s. Tchaikovsky’s “Manfred” started off shaky but LB warmed up and delivered a powerful interpretation of the difficult Don Quixote by Richard Strauss. According to the music historians, it was the finale of the concert, the Overture to Die Meistersinger by Wagner that got the standing ovation but due to the limited broadcasting time, this was not recorded(!). This wet blanket aside, nothing stops one from appreciating the talent and predicting the bright future for the young Bernstein! Wonder what I’d be doing when I’m 25… : )
This CD is available at the Leonard Bernstein Tribute Page. Visit them for detailed information and sound samples!
- Leonard Bernstein – The Early Years IV. BMG/RCA Victor 09026-68101-2The last and beyond any doubt THE best of RCA’s “Early Years” series featuring Milhaud’s La Creation du monde and Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat, two 20th century musical landmarks that were Bernstein’s favorites. As I found out recently, Histoire is a conductor’s nightmare with its frighteningly difficult changes in time signatures and complex rhythms and harmonies. Makes me appreciate this one even more now! I can imagine the adventurous Bernstein savouring the challenge of it and even excelling in this light! Also an interesting feature is the “Afterthought: Study on Fascimile” and “I hate music”. What are these? Won’t spoil the fun for you…
New York Philharmonic
SONY SMK47510. If you can ignore Prince Charles artwork on the cover, most of the Royal Editions are actually quite good. The Concerto for Orchestra is one of the most colourful and exciting works by Bartok, which I feel is also one of the most well-written pieces of music for orchestra. It receives an excellent take in this recording. To me, the rendition of the Concerto is worth the price of the CD! Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta is also interesting though I have never been a great fan of the piece.Somehow, Bartok seems a controversial composer. Those who love him love him and those who do not, will not stand for his work. Yet, he is surely one of the best 20th century composers whose work will receive more understanding in time. Pierre Boulez and Bernstein top my list of Bartok interpreters, giving his work a true reading. Give this one a chance.
Adrian Tan is also the chairman of “Lenny’s Leapers”…an organization dedicated to introduce the art of Jumping on the Podium to conductors all over the universe.
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429post. 19.4.98. up.12.3.2000 Adrian Tan
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