* 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
Summary 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.