Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

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Lance
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Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Lance » Sat Oct 25, 2014 9:32 pm

I am truly looking forward to digging into that one, though many items I have on single CDs, but this I suspect to be a stunning tribute to a great American conductor. Too bad it won't go into a normal space for CD sizes.
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Mookalafalas » Sun Oct 26, 2014 2:07 am

Lance wrote:I am truly looking forward to digging into that one, though many items I have on single CDs, but this I suspect to be a stunning tribute to a great American conductor. Too bad it won't go into a normal space for CD sizes.
That's fast! I ordered mine from England (55 pounds!), so will have to wait at least another week. I'm not really impatient however, as I'm knee deep in piano, polyphonic, and 1950s concerts these days. Lenny'll have to wait his turn.
Call me Al (cuz its my name)

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Lance » Mon Oct 27, 2014 6:06 pm

It arrived today, as scheduled. WHAT A SET! And a gorgeous companion to the Bernstein symphonic box set. More later. It was great fun going through this and determined that I missed some things along the way on single CDs. The accompany booklet is done especially well. Now, to some of the music. I wonder if there will be anything ELSE coming from Bernstein, or do you think this is it?
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Mookalafalas » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:04 pm

Lance wrote:It arrived today, as scheduled. WHAT A SET! And a gorgeous companion to the Bernstein symphonic box set. More later. It was great fun going through this and determined that I missed some things along the way on single CDs. The accompany booklet is done especially well. Now, to some of the music. I wonder if there will be anything ELSE coming from Bernstein, or do you think this is it?
Well, DG seems to be planning at least 2 more big boxes. Did Bernstein do opera in NY? Might still have that in the wings, if this sells well enough.
Call me Al (cuz its my name)

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by maestrob » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:41 am

Mookalafalas wrote:
Lance wrote:It arrived today, as scheduled. WHAT A SET! And a gorgeous companion to the Bernstein symphonic box set. More later. It was great fun going through this and determined that I missed some things along the way on single CDs. The accompany booklet is done especially well. Now, to some of the music. I wonder if there will be anything ELSE coming from Bernstein, or do you think this is it?
Well, DG seems to be planning at least 2 more big boxes. Did Bernstein do opera in NY? Might still have that in the wings, if this sells well enough.
IIRC there was a Falstaff for Columbia and a Carmen w/Marilyn Horne for DGG.......

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Lance » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:00 am

Interesting that I haven't been quite as excited with Bernstein's DGG recordings as I have been with his Columbia/Sony discs. I have many of his DGG recordings as well, but the young dynamo of a conductor of the NYP at the time had something special at the time. The NYP was pretty much at the top of their best under his leadership, though a few of the the preceding conductors (such as Mitropoulos) did much to position the NYP.

On another note, cataloguing both of these big Bernstein Sony boxes has been quite a project! I finally got it done today, happily.
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Mookalafalas » Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:04 am

Lance wrote:Interesting that I haven't been quite as excited with Bernstein's DGG recordings as I have been with his Columbia/Sony discs. I have many of his DGG recordings as well, but the young dynamo of a conductor of the NYP at the time had something special at the time. The NYP was pretty much at the top of their best under his leadership, though a few of the the preceding conductors (such as Mitropoulos) did much to position the NYP.
I'm glad to hear this! I've been tempted, as I like the Sony box, and keep wondering if the DG (with a better orchestra and a bit more modern sound) might be better. I have put myself on a $12 a week music allowance (an incredibly arbitrary number), and the fewer things I want the more likely I'll be to succeed...
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by maestrob » Fri Oct 31, 2014 12:28 pm

Mookalafalas wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting that I haven't been quite as excited with Bernstein's DGG recordings as I have been with his Columbia/Sony discs. I have many of his DGG recordings as well, but the young dynamo of a conductor of the NYP at the time had something special at the time. The NYP was pretty much at the top of their best under his leadership, though a few of the the preceding conductors (such as Mitropoulos) did much to position the NYP.
I'm glad to hear this! I've been tempted, as I like the Sony box, and keep wondering if the DG (with a better orchestra and a bit more modern sound) might be better. I have put myself on a $12 a week music allowance (an incredibly arbitrary number), and the fewer things I want the more likely I'll be to succeed...
I would avoid the DGG box: Bernstein's later recordings were under-rehearsed compared to his earlier Columbia repertoire. I agree with Lance: Bernstein/NY had a special magic that's just lacking in most of the DGG recordings. In fact, his one great recording for DGG (and I've heard most of them) would be the transcriptions for string orchestra (Vienna) of two late Beethoven Quartets, which is a must-have for any collection.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by josé echenique » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:39 pm

Well, I may be in the minority but I love his Fidelio with Gundula Janowitz, now also available on DVD.
It is true that other of his opera recordings had problems: his short lived La Bohéme was ill cast and his tempi punishingly slow, the Candide was afflicted with many singers, and Lenny himself, with the flu, and his West Side Story, even more strangely cast than the Candide, has too many detractors.
I wonder if the Philips Tristan will be included. I also like that in spite, once again, of very slow tempi. Peter Hofmann is a faceless Tristan, but Hildegard Behrens isone of the better Isoldes of the post-Nilsson generation. The Bavarian Radio Orchestra plays beautifully for Bernstein.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Chalkperson » Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:58 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting that I haven't been quite as excited with Bernstein's DGG recordings as I have been with his Columbia/Sony discs. I have many of his DGG recordings as well, but the young dynamo of a conductor of the NYP at the time had something special at the time. The NYP was pretty much at the top of their best under his leadership, though a few of the the preceding conductors (such as Mitropoulos) did much to position the NYP.
I'm glad to hear this! I've been tempted, as I like the Sony box, and keep wondering if the DG (with a better orchestra and a bit more modern sound) might be better. I have put myself on a $12 a week music allowance (an incredibly arbitrary number), and the fewer things I want the more likely I'll be to succeed...
I would avoid the DGG box: Bernstein's later recordings were under-rehearsed compared to his earlier Columbia repertoire. I agree with Lance: Bernstein/NY had a special magic that's just lacking in most of the DGG recordings. In fact, his one great recording for DGG (and I've heard most of them) would be the transcriptions for string orchestra (Vienna) of two late Beethoven Quartets, which is a must-have for any collection.
I'm no fan of Bernstein, but I think his recording of Shosty's 1st and 7th Symphonies is stunning.

http://www.amazon.com/Shostakovich-Symp ... B000001GB2
Sent via Twitter by @chalkperson

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:00 pm

Chalkperson wrote:
maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:
Lance wrote:Interesting that I haven't been quite as excited with Bernstein's DGG recordings as I have been with his Columbia/Sony discs. I have many of his DGG recordings as well, but the young dynamo of a conductor of the NYP at the time had something special at the time. The NYP was pretty much at the top of their best under his leadership, though a few of the the preceding conductors (such as Mitropoulos) did much to position the NYP.
I'm glad to hear this! I've been tempted, as I like the Sony box, and keep wondering if the DG (with a better orchestra and a bit more modern sound) might be better. I have put myself on a $12 a week music allowance (an incredibly arbitrary number), and the fewer things I want the more likely I'll be to succeed...
I would avoid the DGG box: Bernstein's later recordings were under-rehearsed compared to his earlier Columbia repertoire. I agree with Lance: Bernstein/NY had a special magic that's just lacking in most of the DGG recordings. In fact, his one great recording for DGG (and I've heard most of them) would be the transcriptions for string orchestra (Vienna) of two late Beethoven Quartets, which is a must-have for any collection.
I'm no fan of Bernstein, but I think his recording of Shosty's 1st and 7th Symphonies is stunning.

http://www.amazon.com/Shostakovich-Symp ... B000001GB2
Yes, we agree on that. Slipped my mind :oops: :oops:

I heard a live performance of the Shosty VII when Bernstein brought the Chicago Symphony to Avery Fisher Hall in June of the year he made the recording: it stands out as one of the greatest concerts I've ever attended. I sat in the first row near the celli, and the sound was overwhelming. An event of a lifetime.

When I say under-rehearsed, I'm thinking of his Vienna Mahler recordings in particular: the DVDs he made during the 1970's are much better than the 1980's CDs, but Vienna's brass still can't handle the climaxes as well as his earlier NY renditions for Columbia. Also his Berlin Mahler IX is wayward and eccentric: not to my taste at all. His NY Sibelius is, on the whole, better than the DGGs as well.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by maestrob » Mon Nov 03, 2014 1:32 pm

Chalkie;

What makes you say that you're no fan of Bernstein? I think his NY years were excellent! He was also a very fine pianist, as his recordings of Beethoven, Mozart and Shostakovich attest.

Do you have the recording of the transcriptions of the late Beethoven Quartets I mentioned earlier on DGG?

You're as good as the best you've done, and Bernstein's best was deeply impressive and moving to me.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by bigshot » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:13 pm

Bernstein is one of the greatest conductors who ever lived. The fact that he was also a composer and educator is just icing on the cake. I rank him on my short list up with Stokowski, Furtwangler and Toscanini as one of the most important conductors of the 20th century.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by bigshot » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:21 pm

maestrob wrote:
Mookalafalas wrote:I would avoid the DGG box: Bernstein's later recordings were under-rehearsed compared to his earlier Columbia repertoire.
I wouldn't attribute the difference to being under rehearsed. I think it is that later in his career, Bernstein had already hit all of the expected marks and wanted to branch out into a more spontaneous way of interpreting. That meant that the peaks were very very high, but there were low spots too. He was more consistent in New York.

Personally, I value spontaneity and individuality in conducting above accuracy and the expected "good taste". It's like a baseball game... You might be happy when your team wins with solid and consistent singles racking up the score evenly throughout the game. But when the game is being lost and Babe Ruth steps up to the plate at the bottom of the 9th, there is a certain electricity that is wonderful.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Modernistfan » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:09 pm

In general, I prefer the earlier Bernstein recordings on Columbia (now Sony) to the later recordings on DG, although the DG recordings are better recorded in some cases.

Bernstein did something fatal--he listened to critics. He was blasted by critics such as Harold Schonberg for being "over-emotional," and it appears that he altered his conducting style in response (although his physical condition may have been a factor, especially late in his life). I feel that many of those critics had trouble accepting an American conductor with such a prominent status; conductors had to come from Europe.

Now that the last poster mentioned baseball, there is indeed a baseball analogy. Jim Rice was an extremely productive slugger for the Boston Red Sox in the 1970's and 1980's, but he did hit into a large number of double plays. This was hardly unexpected, as the Red Sox had hitters with a high on-base percentage in the first two slots in the batting order, but almost never used the sacrifice bunt or the hit-and-run and almost never stole bases. The number one and two hitters batting ahead of him also did not have great speed. This means that Rice was frequently up with fairly slow runners on first or first and second with less than two outs, and he hit the ball very hard. He was not a terribly slow runner, but had average or perhaps just slightly below average speed. The Sox played at home on a regular grass field, not Astroturf, which might have resulted in some of those ground balls going through for hits. A better simulation to get the maximum number of double plays could hardly be imagined. Nevertheless, some Boston sportswriters, especially Bob Ryan (who never went out of his way to give an African-American or Latino player any credit for anything), kept ripping Rice for the double plays. In order to cut down on the double plays, he altered his swing, which basically killed his power.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by bigshot » Thu Nov 06, 2014 2:28 pm

Man! I don't know enough about baseball to interpret that one!

I hear *more* emotion in Bernstein's later recordings rather than less. Very interesting that someone perceives it as the other way around. But whichever way around it is, criticizing Bernstein for being emotional is like criticizing the ocean for being wet.

By the way, Bernstein recorded a few things for RCA before his Columbia contract. I know for sure there was a fantastic mono Ravel Piano Concerto. What else did he record for RCA in the early years?

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by barney » Thu Nov 06, 2014 3:53 pm

I don't follow baseball at all, but I get the point. He altered his technique to his detriment.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by bigshot » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:07 am

I thought he was loved in New York and got more criticism later. I wasn't paying attention to classical music back then though. Shrug.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by jserraglio » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:06 pm

As I recall, Bernstein in the sixties and early seventies was regarded as a musical lightweight by many highbrow critics. "Broadway Lenny," a composer of musical comedies, could not be taken entirely seriously as an artist. He was also suspect b/c he sold so many records. IIRC, the tide began to turn in his favor with the release of the VPO LvB symphony cycle. In the meantime, the unwashed feasted on his great PSONY recordings, like the Rite of Spring and the DSCH 5th.

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by jserraglio » Fri Nov 07, 2014 2:36 pm

bigshot wrote:By the way, Bernstein recorded a few things for RCA before his Columbia contract. I know for sure there was a fantastic mono Ravel Piano Concerto. What else did he record for RCA in the early years?
His own Symphony 1 "Jeremiah" was a 1940s RCA shellac recording I once owned.

Copland Billy the Kid Ste
Copland Piano Sonata
Bernstein Seven Anniversaries
Bernstein On the Town Dances
Bernstein Facsimile
Bernstein Dusty Sun
Bernstein I Hate Music
Gershwin American in Paris
Blitzsten Airborne Symphony
Stravinsky Wind Octet
Stravinsky L'Histoire du Soldat
Milhaud La Creation du monde

All were issued on CD by RCA/bmg

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss? ... arly+years

QTD from Peter Gutmann's excellent Classical Notes site . . .
http://www.classicalnotes.net/features/bernstein.html

One of the most significant benefits of Bernstein's celebrity, and ultimately the most lasting, was the start of his recording career as a freelance but exclusive RCA Victor artist. Largely forgotten nowadays and eclipsed by his massive Columbia and Deutsche Grammophon catalogues, the RCA performances are impressive both for their fine artistic quality and for their surprisingly broad repertoire.

One feature of the RCA recordings which is decidedly unimpressive, though, is their sound. Even in their recent CD restorations (on RCA CDs 60915, 61650, 62568 and 68101), their thin, whiny, flat sonics pale beside the rich, reverberant, well-balanced acoustic RCA had managed to provide for Toscanini's New York Philharmonic records of the 1930s, and even for Stokowski's Philadelphia series going back to 1927! Admittedly, Bernstein was hardly in a position to demand perfection, but from a purely mechanical standpoint he deserved far better than he got.

In lieu of the usual sure-fire light classical crowd-pleasers imposed upon most novices by A&R men, Bernstein somehow managed to record a nice variety of works that were both meaningful to him and representative of his composing, pianism and conducting, the three primary phases of his career at the time. Following a set of scenes from his ballet Fancy Free cut for Decca in June, 1944 allegedly under his supervision, Bernstein's first genuine recording was of the Dances from his On the Town, made with the "On the Town Orchestra" in February 1945, a mere month after the Broadway opening. It is a fine, swaggering performance that fully conveys the vivacious audacity of the premiere. Two weeks later he led the St. Louis Symphony and soprano Nan Merriman in his prize-winning Symphony # 1 (now on RCA 61581) with far lesser results; while the final "Lamentation" movement achieves a powerful dignity, the rest is coarse and careless. In 1947, he would be given the chance to record his Facsimile ballet with the RCA Victor Orchestra, and his Seven Anniversaries. (His cloying I Hate Music, a blessedly brief song cycle, followed in 1949.)

The Anniversaries gave Bernstein the opportunity to shine not only as a composer, but as a brilliant pianist. Also in the RCA series was a bracing 1947 performance of the Copland Piano Sonata, which Bernstein studied with the composer and of which he presumably gave a definitive interpretation. There is also a 1946 reading with the Philharmonia Orchestra of the Ravel Piano Concerto, a work with which Bernstein had dazzled audiences from the very start of his career and which underlined Bernstein's versatility by featuring him in the dual role of soloist and conductor.

The final phase of Bernstein's career documented by the RCA recordings is his conducting. After the On the Town Dances, he next recorded with his New York City Symphony Orchestra the Airborne Symphony by his friend Marc Blitzstein, whose proletarian opera The Cradle Will Rock had galvanized Bernstein's social conscience in 1939 and had prompted him to organize a controversial performance as a Harvard senior. Clearly a labor of love, Bernstein delivered a heartfelt performance of what can charitably be described as a period piece (or perhaps more candidly as horrendous drivel, in which a soaring narrator, soloists, chorus and orchestra all push the most obvious emotional buttons to drizzle dewy-eyed wonderment upon the history of armed aerial combat, somewhat akin to the soundtrack for a mawkish educational movie).

More than any other of his early recordings, the weakness of the Airborne rather ironically serves to highlight one of Bernstein's greatest strengths: how he was able to transform such trivia through the sheer magnitude of his conviction. Just as Toscanini lent credibility to trite sentimental pieces of his deservedly unknown Italian contemporaries and Beecham animated the wispy meanderings of Delius, Bernstein's recording injected vitality and conviction to Blitzstein's bathos. Even the worst conductor can communicate at least some of the essence of a masterpiece. But perhaps the measure of a truly great conductor is an ability to invest mediocre or even genuinely bad music with a semblance of quality.

The RCA series is completed by Gershwin's An American in Paris, a Bernstein signature piece, Stravinsky's Octet and L'Histoire du Soldat, both with members of the Boston Symphony, Milhaud's La Creation du Monde and Copland's Billy the Kid ballet. The last, in atypically decent sound, is the gem of the series, brilliantly evoking the gutsy leanness of Copland's idealization of the mythic American West of the pioneers.

Perhaps the most surprising feature of these recordings is their extreme interpretive similarity to Bernstein's later remakes for Columbia, thus demonstrating the maturity of his artistry even at this early stage. The dismal sound, though, dooms all but a few to curiosity value beside the manifestly superior remakes.

bigshot
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by bigshot » Sat Nov 08, 2014 2:40 am

The one I want is the 1946 Ravel. Great performance and fine mono sound on that one.

maestrob
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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by maestrob » Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:29 pm

bigshot wrote:The one I want is the 1946 Ravel. Great performance and fine mono sound on that one.
You mean this one?.......

Image

It's available here on Amazon used: http://www.amazon.com/Early-Years-2-Ber ... l+concerto

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Re: Hey - I should have the new Bernstein Box 2 by Monday!

Post by Mookalafalas » Mon Nov 10, 2014 2:09 am

jserraglio, thanks for the article.

My big Bernstein came in today, and Wow :shock: , that's a big boy. Just starting, but so far Lennie's batting a thousand. Since I got it (with shipping) for under $100, and it is 80 discs with a lot of repertoire I have little of, I think it may be one of the best bargains I've seen yet. The box is handsome, but wildly impractical to use. I will just take all the discs out and put them on a book shelf and ditch the container. You can read the spines, although you have to get up close and squint a little to do it. Just finished listening to Gould adding the piano to a Bach keyboard concerto. Waaay better than I was suspecting. Now listening to Isaac Stern added fiddle to some Barber and Bartok. Not bad.
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