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CLASSICAL  August 2005

CLASSICAL August 2005

Subject:

Re: A "Candide" That's Far from the Best Possible

From:

Steve Schwartz <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 18 Aug 2005 11:13:02 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (44 lines)

Ben Malkevitch:

>Incidentally, I have a good amount of respect for Marin Alsop but I have
>yet to be amazed by her Bernstein performances, especially the "Chichester
>Psalms" on Naxos.  The interpretation is serviceable but only seems to
>highlight the "joie de vivre" (if I may) that Lenny's own seems to have
>had.  Thoughts?

I reviewed this disc:

	Leonard Bernstein

*  Chichester Psalms
*  On the Waterfront -- Symphonic Suite
*  On the Town -- 3 Dance Episodes

Thomas Kelly, treble; Elizabeth Franklin-Kitchen, soprano; Victoria Nayler,
alto; Jeremy Budd, tenor; Paul Charrier, bass; Bournemouth Symphony Chorus
and Orchestra/Marin Alsop
Naxos 8.559177 Total time: 48:34

Summmary for the Busy Executive: Bargain-basement Bernstein.

Naxos has packaged three of Bernstein's most popular works on one budget
CD.  Many reviewers, especially those in England, have gone ga-ga over
it, including putting it on their Best of the Month lists.  Whatever
they hear, I'm not hearing.  I think the performances okay, although
they certainly fall short of Bernstein's own readings.  Alsop has always
struck me as a clear-headed, rather than a passionate conductor, and her
accounts here bear that out.  There are some lovely subtleties in the
reading, particularly a nicely-judged accelerando and crescendo toward
the end of the third movement of the Chichester Psalms, but Bernstein
-- who handled his own music more roughly -- gets more drama and jolts.
Alsop's rhythmic moments seem flaccid (although probably more accurate)
next to the composer's.  She turns Bernstein's drama into good taste, a
Cajun crawfish boil into watercress sandwiches at the Ritz-Carlton.  I
kept wishing the girl would let herself (and the orchestra) go.

On the other hand, it's a budget disc, very well recorded.  If you don't
know these works and want to experiment, give it a whirl.  That's about
the only way I'd recommend them.  If you do know these works, you probably
have Bernstein's superior performances already.

Steve Schwartz

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