Leonard Bernstein: A Total Embrace -- The Conductor

Leonard Bernstein: A Total Embrace -- The Conductor

by Leonard Bernstein
     
 
This three-CD set's title, A Total Embrace, is a metaphoric reminder of the enormous amount of repertory Leonard Bernstein recorded for Columbia Records (now Sony) over two decades. But, of course, the "embrace" also refers to Bernstein's overtly emotional interpretive style. Whether conducting a Beethoven symphony, an Italian

Overview

This three-CD set's title, A Total Embrace, is a metaphoric reminder of the enormous amount of repertory Leonard Bernstein recorded for Columbia Records (now Sony) over two decades. But, of course, the "embrace" also refers to Bernstein's overtly emotional interpretive style. Whether conducting a Beethoven symphony, an Italian opera, or a 20th century American classic like Copland's El Salón México, Bernstein immersed himself in the music, and the result was always an interpretation with tremendous personality. The 29 selections here run the gamut, from the sublime intricacy of a Bach concerto movement (featuring the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould) to a dazzling Mozart finale, and from the spiritual solidity of a Haydn Mass to the searching transcendence of Ives's The Unanswered Question. Highlights include one of the most exciting performances of the opening movement of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony ever committed to disc, a complete performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (with Bernstein taking the solo part as well as conducting the orchestra), and the first-ever CD release of an excerpt from Stravinsky's opera Oedipus Rex. Handsomely packaged, this sampler serves as a compact introduction to Bernstein's art and will send many a listener on their way to explore the complete recordings from which these extracts are drawn.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Andrew Farach-Colton
This three-CD set's title, A Total Embrace, is a metaphoric reminder of the enormous amount of repertory Leonard Bernstein recorded for Columbia Records (now Sony) over two decades. But, of course, the "embrace" also refers to Bernstein's overtly emotional interpretive style. Whether conducting a Beethoven symphony, an Italian opera, or a 20th century American classic like Copland's El Salón México, Bernstein immersed himself in the music, and the result was always an interpretation with tremendous personality. The 29 selections here run the gamut, from the sublime intricacy of a Bach concerto movement (featuring the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould) to a dazzling Mozart finale, and from the spiritual solidity of a Haydn Mass to the searching transcendence of Ives's The Unanswered Question. Highlights include one of the most exciting performances of the opening movement of Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony ever committed to disc, a complete performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (with Bernstein taking the solo part as well as conducting the orchestra), and the first-ever CD release of an excerpt from Stravinsky's opera Oedipus Rex. Handsomely packaged, this sampler serves as a compact introduction to Bernstein's art and will send many a listener on their way to explore the complete recordings from which these extracts are drawn.
All Music Guide - Lindsay Planer
In addition to being one of America's most lauded composers, Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) conducted the New York Philharmonic from 1943 through 1969. His no-nonsense approach to classical music was considered controversial, if not somewhat radical, yet his contributions are immeasurable, especially as he crossed cultural lines, exposing the masses to luminous works of symphonic art, many for the first time. He went so far as to demystify the masters, making them palatable for the common listener as well as the studious enthusiast. Since the maestro's copious catalog is undeniably daunting and to honor what would have been his 85th birthday, in 2003 Sony Music created anthologies titled A Total Embrace: The Conductor and A Total Embrace: The Composer. The three-volume mid-price Conductor set contains nearly four hours of Bernstein's offerings from behind the podium. While not presented chronologically, the tracks span nearly a quarter-century, from the Columbia Symphony Orchestra's 1950 rendition of Maurice Ravel's "Shéhérazade: II. La Flute Enchantée" through to a 1975 recording of Hector Berlioz's "Requiem, Op. 5 from Dies Irae: Tuba Mirum." In between, Bernstein's repertoire is thoroughly embodied with arguably definitive recitals ranging from the finale of Mozart's "Symphony No. 39 in E flat Major, KV 543" to Charles Ives' "The Unanswered Question." The latter is just one of several complete compositions; others of note are an unequaled interpretation of Aaron Copland's "El Salón México" and the legendary reading of George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" from the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, NY, where Bernstein not only leads the Columbia Symphony Orchestra but also plays the piano. The only thing that could have improved on the package would be more specific and detailed annotations, as interested parties are presumably novices. Otherwise, A Total Embrace: The Conductor and A Total Embrace: The Composer are highly recommended entrées and sizable career overviews.
Seattle Times - Melinda Bargreen
The arrival of what would have been Bernstein's 85th birthday [in August 2003] is the excuse for two tasty collections of Bernstein, [The Conductor and The Composer].... While six CDs can't possibly do justice to the enormous output of this prolifically gifted mega-musician, these two sets offer a good cross section.... Great stuff.

Product Details

Release Date:
09/09/2003
Label:
Sony
UPC:
0827969057827
catalogNumber:
90578

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