Serious Bernstein

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jbuck919
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Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:18 pm

This is one of my "stumble-ons." I'm sure many of you know it, but it is the first time I ever heard it. It is not, however, the first time I have heard excellent and uncompromised music by LB. Oh, there is a bit of jazz-type stuff in the last movement, but who am I to complain about that when Ravel did the same thing in his piano concerto? A stunning piece, really.

When Bernstein resigned from the NY Philharmonic, he said it was because he wanted to do more composing, but he never came up with anything better than the mixed-message Mass. How different it might have been.


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jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:32 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:18 pm
[Bernstein] never came up with anything better than the mixed-message Mass.
I agree that the Serenade is one of LB's finest works. But the only mixed I hear in his Mass is the macaronic. Otherwise the message conveyed by both words and music is consistent. Because it is so very much of its time, Mass is a work that will be performed long after his more generic works (viz. the Symphonies) are forgotten.

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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:09 am

jserraglio wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:32 am
jbuck919 wrote:
Wed Nov 07, 2018 11:18 pm
[Bernstein] never came up with anything better than the mixed-message Mass.
I agree that the Serenade is one of LB's finest works. But the only mixed I hear in his Mass is the macaronic. Otherwise the message conveyed by both words and music is consistent. Because it is so very much of its time, Mass is a work that will be performed long after his more generic works (viz. the Symphonies) are forgotten.
I disagree with that. Not that it will not continue to be performed, but nothing will ever redeem the pop movement in the Credo. There is very little in Mass that qualifies as classical music, and my whole point was that Bernstein was a superior modern classical composer. He also had a titanic ego, which meant that this was not enough for him, even though unlike other modern (but not modernistic) composers, he had the luxury of fame through his career as a conductor through which he could have channeled the better angels of his nature. West Side Story I can forgive, even enjoy for what it is, but Mass? Never.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:41 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:09 am
There is very little in Mass that qualifies as classical music, and my whole point was that Bernstein was a superior modern classical composer. He also had a titanic ego, which meant that this was not enough for him . . . .
Mass is serious classical and seriously good. Bernstein's hat size doubtless has more to do with the quality of his music than that of his ego.

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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Thu Nov 08, 2018 7:44 am

jserraglio wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 6:41 am
jbuck919 wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 5:09 am
There is very little in Mass that qualifies as classical music, and my whole point was that Bernstein was a superior modern classical composer. He also had a titanic ego, which meant that this was not enough for him . . . .
Mass is serious classical and seriously good. Bernstein's hat size doubtless has more to do with the quality of his music than that of his ego.
You've got to be kidding, and with that I will let the matter drop, and we must just agree to disagree.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Thu Nov 08, 2018 10:40 am

Perfectly serious. "Mass" is "serious Bernstein", if not great Bernstein; and the composer's ego, or lack of it, has nothing to do with assessing its quality as music.

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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by maestrob » Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:23 pm

Well, well.

Sorry, jserraglio, but I agree with jbuck here. As many fans of LB did, I acquired the LP edition of Mass when it first came out, and have disliked it ever since. I know there are a couple of new recordings of the piece, but I will not buy them. That said, I also am also not taken by his opera within an opera, A Quiet Place, even though I have the CD in my collection.

Bernstein's success with West Side Story was due partly to the excellent libretto, written by none other than Steven Sondheim, his first Broadway assignment. It's a great musical, and it means a lot to me personally for reasons I won't go into here.

IMHO, the Serenade and the Second Symphony (The Age of Anxiety) are Bernstein's great classical works.

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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:15 pm

maestrob wrote:
Thu Nov 08, 2018 2:23 pm
As many fans of LB did, I acquired the LP edition of Mass when it first came out, and have disliked it ever since . . . . IMHO, the Serenade and the Second Symphony (The Age of Anxiety) are Bernstein's great classical works.
Originally felt the same way about the LP which I still own but the work has grown on me. Also, I like rock and R&B of that era (a lot--Led Zeppelin, The Stones, The Kinks, Johnny Winter, Waylon Jennings, B.B. King -- heard em all live) and see no reason why that musical idiom, like jazz, shouldn't be used by a classical composer. But I am not a Bernstein groupie: his symphonies to me sound largely pretentious and boring.

Candide is a masterpiece--one that also had a great poet as one of its librettists, with Sondheim thrown in for good measure. WSS follows close behind, nipping at its heels, a stunning masterwork. Recently saw A Quiet Place and liked it a bunch too.

Basically I like all LB's theatrical works of which "Mass" was maybe the most controversial. Orlando di Lasso or Josquin Desprez it ain't. So what? That doesn't mean, as has been suggested here, that Mass is not to be taken seriously as classical composition:
Bernstein - MASS
Vienna, Oct. 28th 2018 (Concert performance)

The Celebrant: Vojtech Dyk

RSO Vienna
Vienna Singing-Academie
Operaschool of the Vienna State Opera
Company of Music

Dennis Russell Davies

Broadcast Austrian Radio (ORF)
Last edited by jserraglio on Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by Lance » Thu Nov 08, 2018 4:25 pm

Ditto on the Bernstein Mass. I did very much enjoy his Chichester Psalms, however.
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jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:18 pm


jbuck919
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am

jserraglio wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:18 pm
Credos

https://v637g.app.goo.gl/sLHvuJpQx5yXzE416

You call that classical music? Sheesh. (I was in fact looking for the Kadosh movement all by itself--it is as you know the Sanctus in Hebrew-- because it is in about the same category as the Chichester Psalms, but I couldn't find it that way, and what you have to put up with until you get there.) Just the famous "Simple Song," while quite nice for what it is, is at about the same level as "Something's Coming" from West Side Story.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:05 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am
You call that classical music? Sheesh.
Meddling intellect mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things.
jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 1:32 am
. . . I couldn't find it
Sanctus is to be found at 1:17:05 --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tjsKzhpSwE&t=4625s
Last edited by jserraglio on Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:31 am

Trouble in Tahiti - like Mass, wonderful and so American in spirit!
The theater brought out Bernstein's special talents as a composer. Of course, he was also a musician of the first rank and an urbane village explainer to boot.

Full orchestration


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_j3T9zrvGk

Reduced orchestration


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1HoB7XbEOY

jbuck919
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:30 am

jserraglio wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 6:31 am
Trouble in Tahiti - like Mass, wonderful and so American in spirit!
The theater brought out Bernstein's special talents as a composer. Of course, he was also a musician of the first rank and an urbane village explainer to boot.

Full orchestration


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_j3T9zrvGk

Reduced orchestration


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1HoB7XbEOY
No need. I had already found it in the complete performance you provided. What I meant was that I was previously having a hard time finding it by itself, when I imagine that "Simple Song" is available in about 87 versions. I know perfectly well that Bernstein's theater music was greatly superior, that WSS is probably the last of the great Broadway musicals. "Meddling intellect," as you invidiously call it, does not prevent me from appreciating things on their own terms, but it does enable me to make crucial distinctions.

Did you know, by the way, that the young man who originated the part of the celebrant was the son of the Washington Post critic Paul Hume? Hume is most famous for writing the negative review of Margaret Truman that caused Harry to reply, calling him a son of a bitch.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:28 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:30 am
"Meddling intellect," as you invidiously call it
Shoulda, coulda, woulda, only Wordsworth beat me to it.

jbuck919
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jbuck919 » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:14 pm

jserraglio wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 12:28 pm
jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 11:30 am
"Meddling intellect," as you invidiously call it
Shoulda, coulda, woulda, only Wordsworth beat me to it.
And Judge Judy beat you to the first three words of that.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

jserraglio
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Re: Serious Bernstein

Post by jserraglio » Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:50 pm

jbuck919 wrote:
Sat Nov 10, 2018 3:14 pm
And Judge Judy beat you to the first three words of that.
Appearances notwithstanding, this ain't reality TV — it was FLOTUS Hillary. https://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/15/.../ ... oulda.html

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