Bernstein: West Side Story (The Original Score)by Kenneth Schermerhorn
In 1985, Leonard Bernstein led the first complete recording of West Side Story -- a controversial interpretation because it featured the operatic voices of Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras. For this Naxos recording, made in 2001, conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn has wisely opted for lighter, Broadway-style voices. Schermerhorn studied with Bernstein during the composition of the musical (and was considered a possible conductor for the Broadway premiere in 1957). He may not have Lenny's outsized exuberance, but he directs a very lively, theatrical performance. The singers are all young and fresh-voiced, and though Betsi Morrison does not manage a convincing Puerto Rican accent, she does a whole lot better than Te Kanawa (not to mention Carreras's unconvincing English!). The original cast album is indispensable, of course, not least for Chita Rivera's blistering portrayal of Maria's sister Anita, but this version offers the complete score -- all 75 minutes of it on one CD -- in excellent sound and at budget price.
- Release Date:
- Naxos American
- West Side Story, film score - Leonard Bernstein - Stephen Sondheim - Sid Ramin - Kenneth Schermerhorn - Robert Dean - Robert Dean - Nashville Symphony - Nashville Symphony - Betsi Morrison - Joanna Chozen - Marianne Cooke - Marianne Cooke - Company - Michael San Giovanni - Mike Eldred - Michelle Prentice - Betsi Morrison
Performance CreditsKenneth Schermerhorn Primary Artist
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Being a fan of Leonard Bernstein and the music of west side story, I figured I would give this version a try. It lacks in energy. I would stick with the original broadway score and look forward to a verson of the new broadway cast.
The first thing to be said about this CD is that Mike Eldred's performance as Tony is simply awe-inspiring. His style is the perfect blend of operatic power and broadway punch. Granted, he can't quite deliver the Sinatra swing that "Something's Coming" demands, but that's partly due to the unusually slow tempo for that number. His "Maria" is certainly the best I've ever heard that song. Betsi Morrison plays a charming Maria. Her rendition of "I Feel Pretty" has a sparkle that many Marias lack (it tends to be in sort of an awkward range for sopranos). She can hold her own alongside Eldred's Tony, which is saying something. As a whole, this recording adeptly highlights all of the out-of-control energy and heart-wrenching emotion that make West Side Story an unforgettable musical and Leonard Berstein a brilliant, if slightly insane, composer. In particular, the Act I closer, "Tonight" sends chills down my spine every time, and "Gee, Officer Krupke" has just the right vaudevillian charm. The cast and orchestra alike deliver a quality performance that deserves a place in anyone's CD library, as a first copy, or alongside the original.