Bernstein: Symphony No. 2

Bernstein: Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety"; William Bolcom: Piano Concerto

by Marc-André Hamelin
     
 

Leonard Bernstein's Age of Anxiety Symphony (1948) is one of his finest orchestral works. So why isn't it performed more often? The main problem is the prominent, concerto-like part for solo piano. As it isn't a true concerto, most pianists don't bother learning it. After all, who wants to take a Bernstein symphony on tour…  See more details below

Overview

Leonard Bernstein's Age of Anxiety Symphony (1948) is one of his finest orchestral works. So why isn't it performed more often? The main problem is the prominent, concerto-like part for solo piano. As it isn't a true concerto, most pianists don't bother learning it. After all, who wants to take a Bernstein symphony on tour when you can get top billing in a Rachmaninov concerto? Luckily, there are pianists around like Marc-André Hamelin who put music before their ego. And, of course, Hamelin plays his part as beautifully as one could hope. The score is very much of its time, echoing the music of Bartók, Copland, cool jazz (in the marvelous "Masque" movement), and Bernstein himself (the hopeful theme of the epilogue foreshadows his score for the film On the Waterfront). Dmitry Sitkovetsky and the Ulster Orchestra don't find quite the same intensity or grit that the composer brought to this symphony -- Bernstein made three recordings of the score, the first and last with Lukas Foss, the second with Philippe Entremont -- but the work's cumulative power is still considerable. William Bolcom's Piano Concerto (1976) is also very much of its time, blending post-war modernism with all manner of American sounds -- from jazz to Gershwin to a lilting country waltz, with a spoonful of Ives thrown in for good luck. Despite the concerto's various stylistic winks and nods, however, it is essentially tragic. It's a difficult work to bring off. Have too much fun with the pop stuff and the music seems like a pointless potpourri. But Hamelin and Sitkovetsky make a very strong case for it, tapping into the dark undercurrents and bringing out the bitter ironies. Hyperion's recording is glorious, capturing both Hamelin's liquid tone and the orchestra's colorful personality.

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Product Details

Release Date:
10/10/2000
Label:
Hyperion Uk
UPC:
0034571171708
catalogNumber:
67170

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 2 ("The Age of Anxiety"), for piano & orchestra or 2 pianos  - Leonard Bernstein  - Marc-André Hamelin  - Simon Perry  - Terry Shannon  - Dmitry Sitkovetsky  -  Ulster Orchestra
  2. Piano Concerto  - William Bolcom  - Marc-André Hamelin  - Simon Perry  - Terry Shannon  - Dmitry Sitkovetsky  -  Ulster Orchestra

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