It is all too easy to take Gustav Mahler's symphonies and orchestral songs for granted in the 21st century's first decade. More than ever before, concert performances and recordings of these works abound, and at a level of proficiency that reveals the remarkable extent to which musicians worldwide have assimilated the composer's idiom. Given the music's primacy in today's central orchestral repertoire, we forget how the great Mahler advocates of the past had to champion his music in the face of adversity. "Who can bear those monstrous symphonies, those over-blown, out-of-date horrors," asked one leading music critic when the New York Philharmonic launched a Mahler Festival to celebrate the composer's 1960 centenary.
Les Noces is a screaming, shrieking, flat-out masterpiece. Leonard Bernstein himself has referred to it as Stravinsky's greatest work, and listening to this incendiary performance, it's awfully hard to disagree. Scored for voices, four pianos, and percussion, the work provided the inspiration for the entire career of Orff (of Carmina Burana fame), but it's so much better as sheer music than anything Orff wrote. And what a cast! The pianists for this performance include Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Cyprien Katsaris, and Homero Francesch, four certified virtuoso performers, while the singers of the English Bach Festival Chorus really cover themselves with glory in both works. A stunner.
Leonard Bernstein bestrode the musical scene in the second half of the 20th century like few others. For the last decade of his life he recorded exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon, having also made several recordings for the label in the 1970s, starting with his celebrated Carmen in 1973.
VOLUME ONE comprises Bernstein's complete recordings of composers from Beethoven to Liszt, and includes all of Bernstein's recordings of his own works, those of Brahms and Haydn, and individual CDs of Bruckner, Debussy, Dvorak, Elgar, Franck, Hindemith and many American composers.
The definitive look at the outstanding life and career of Leonard Bernstein, world-renowned composer, conductor, pianist and educator. This film and moving celebration conveys a fully rounded portrait of Bernstein's complex life–from his debut conducting performance for the New York Philharmonic in 1943 to his historic and electrifying performance at the fall of the Berlin Wall; from his Broadway experiences to his finale at Tanglewood. Filled with archival footage including concert films, home movies and clips from Broadway hits West Side Story and On the Town, the film showcases the many talents of Bernstein.
Here are three 20th-century violin concertos written within a 30-year period in three totally different styles, played by a soloist equally at home in all of them. Bernstein's Serenade, the earliest and most accessible work, takes its inspiration from Plato's Symposium; its five movements, musical portraits of the banquet's guests, represent different aspects of love as well as running the gamut of Bernstein's contrasting compositional styles. Rorem's concerto sounds wonderful. Its six movements have titles corresponding to their forms or moods; their character ranges from fast, brilliant, explosive to slow, passionate, melodious. Philip Glass's concerto, despite its conventional three movements and tonal, consonant harmonies, is the most elusive. Written in the "minimalist" style, which for most ordinary listeners is an acquired taste, it is based on repetition of small running figures both for orchestra and soloist, occasionally interrupted by long, high, singing lines in the violin against or above the orchestra's pulsation.
"By the end of 1949, when the recordings issued here were made, Leonard Bernstein was beyond the point where he could be regarded a "new" figure on the American musical scene. In six short years - from the dramatic moment of his debut with the New York Philharmonic on nationwide radio, filling in at the last moment for an ailing Bruno Walter - he had shown remarkable gifts first as a conductor, then as a composer in the symphonic world and ballet and then on Broadway . All that in the 13 months between November 14, 1943, and the end of 1944! When World War II ended, Bernstein was able to take up his role as the assistant to Serge Koussevitzky at Tanglewood. He had promoted the music of his fellow Americans in live performances…. had produced significant recordings of works by two of them. He had appeared as conductor and soloist in a recording of Ravel's Concerto in G. And, naturally, he had recorded a number of his own works."Steven Ledbetter