Bernstein: Candide; West Side Story

Bernstein: Candide; West Side Story

by Leonard Bernstein



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Bernstein: Candide; West Side Story

Composer Leonard Bernstein's greatest hits, so to speak, all come from the 1940s and 1950s: "Fancy Free," "Candide," "On the Town," and "West Side Story." Less well-known, but very closely tied to those works is Bernstein's only film score, for Elia Kazan's On the Waterfront. All of these works represent music that is meant to be combined with another form of performing art to tell a particular story. Even though some of these are humorous and some are serious, a commonality of those stories is that they all revolve around young people maturing in some way. As well as having memorable melodies and a cosmopolitan combination of pop rhythms and symphonic textures, each one of them underscores the complexity and conflict of emotions in a timesless way that strikes a chord with audiences. They have become classic examples of American music. With the exception of "Fancy Free," which is the full, if brief ballet, all the works as they appear on this album are concert arrangements made from the original scores by Bernstein. They capture, very succinctly, the essences of the original versions in a way that is as moving as the original. These particular performances also, with Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic in the early '60s, seem to have a youthfulness and rawness to them that accentuates the music. In the "Symphonic Dances from West Side Story," the cross-rhythms and sharpness of change in mood and texture are clear and immediate. There are spots in the dances from "On the Town" where the brass or the strings are ever so slightly not together, which adds to the impression of young high spirits. And the drama of the suite from On the Waterfront, sometimes stated with just one or two instruments, is intensely powerful. There is a snap and energy to these performances that is missing from Bernstein's more polished sounding recordings from the late '70s/early '80s. It's not just the performance, but also the sound of the recording that seems to suit the music better also. It's not necessarily a warm sound, and there's is a resonance of distance that is entirely appropriate to the cityscape settings of the stories. Because of their feel and sound and because it's the composer conducting, these seem to have become the definitive versions of these concert works. That, plus the fact that the music is so popular, gives Sony the perfect excuse for the numerous reissues and repackagings of them, like this one.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/27/2004
Label: Sony
UPC: 0827969272824
catalogNumber: 92728

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