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Glass/Rorem: Violin Concertos; Bernstein: Serenade Import

3.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Import, October 12, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

Here are three 20th-century violin concertos written within a 30-year period in three totally different styles, played by a soloist equally at home in all of them. Bernstein's Serenade, the earliest and most accessible work, takes its inspiration from Plato's Symposium; its five movements, musical portraits of the banquet's guests, represent different aspects of love as well as running the gamut of Bernstein's contrasting compositional styles. Rorem's concerto sounds wonderful. Its six movements have titles corresponding to their forms or moods; their character ranges from fast, brilliant, explosive to slow, passionate, melodious. Philip Glass's concerto, despite its conventional three movements and tonal, consonant harmonies, is the most elusive. Written in the "minimalist" style, which for most ordinary listeners is an acquired taste, it is based on repetition of small running figures both for orchestra and soloist, occasionally interrupted by long, high, singing lines in the violin against or above the orchestra's pulsation. Gidon Kremer, well known for his championship of contemporary composers, plays fabulously; his tone soars, shimmers, and glows. His identification with the music is complete. --Edith Eisler
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Product Details

  • Performer: Gidon Kremer
  • Orchestra: Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein, Christoph von Dohnanyi
  • Composer: Philip Glass, Ned Rorem, Leonard Bernstein
  • Audio CD (October 12, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00001X596
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,931 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
The Glass Violin Concerto is one of the best examples of his current "mature" style, that combines Minimalist techniques with surging lyrical flow and mastery of orchestral forces much larger that the Glass Ensemble. It's been called, with a fascinaring oxymoron, Maximalist Minimalism. This evolution implies the use of the traditional classical forms, such as symphonies and concertos, and, in this respect, the Violin Concerto is one of Glass's most convincing essays. Actually, it's the piece which "converted" me me to the appreciation of a composer whose early output I often criticized. This concerto astonishingly reminds me , of all composers, of Sibelius. There's something of that Nordic master in the otherworldly lyricism of this concerto, especially in the magnificent, impossible-to-forget slow movement, yet this is distinctly a Glassian sound-world. All his trademarks are present in new, enriched forms: arpeggios, repetitions, that marvelous "far/close" effect in the strings. In this respect the two exhilaratingly motoric outer movements are more typically Glassian, and they encapsulate splendidly the middle one, the hauntingly lyrical heart of the whole piece. Gidon Kremer is a splendid, silvery-toned soloist (I've heard him live recently just in the Sibelius and he was peerless) and also a most intelligent musician : very sensitively he doesn't overplay his part , which was written to go along with the orchestra and not in opposition to it in the traditional , virtuoso way. The Wiener Philharmoniker and Christoph von Dohnanyi (that's what I call luxury casting!) sound, somewhat unexpectedly, totally into the idiom. Actually, I'd say that the warm, aristocratic Vienna sound is very apt for this music.Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
First of all, Deutsche Grammaphon should be congratulated on their 20/21 series of "new music" recordings. So far all of them I've heard have been superb.
On to this specific disc though. The idea is simple: three violin concertos by American composers in the latter half of the 20th century. The previous sentence will frighten many folks, but rest assured those of you out there that fear contemporary classical music. All three of these works (with the exception of a few moments in the Rorem) are all melodic and beautiful works and shouldn't raise a stir even amongst the most hardline musical conservatives.
The Philip Glass violin concerto is without a doubt my favorite of the three pieces (and if you can believe it, actually the most traditionally structured of the three pieces.) Shimmering and intense (but not in an overbearing way) this lush, gorgeous piece foreces reflection and contemplation in the listener. The beautiful second movement with its longing violin part can evoke tears in the listener. The fast paced third movement has a triumphal sense about it and as always, Gidon Kremer's playing is flawless.
The Rorem piece is the quirkiest of the lot. The little sequences range in sound from primal to drunken cartoon music to sounding like a 1950s American sitcom theme song. Given an open mind the piece can be a lot of fun.
Finally, there is the Bernstein "Serenade" (after Plato's "Symposium.") It is a good piece, but ultimately the least memorable of the three (and ironic considering he is the most well known throughout the world.)
Even if this disc were just of Glass performance, it would be worth picking up. Once again, Gidon Kremer's expert handling of these three distinctly different pieces is a treat as well.
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Format: Audio CD
"Kremer playing Bernstein (with Bernstein)" are quite enough to persuade me to buy this album (for me). If that is not enough, I promise you, you'll find the 3 greatest American violin concertos of this century played by maestros. Honestly speaking, I overlooked Ned Rorem untill I encounter Susan Graham's album. After listening to Graham's song, I listened this concerto again to find this talented composer. The episode, friendship between Bernstein and Rorem for over forty years and inviting Kremer for this concerto project are moving (you'll find in liner notes.) I love "adagio" from Bernstein's "Serenade" and "Romance without Words"(what a romantic title!) from Rorem's. (This lyricism reminds me Graham's songs.) You'll be one of the gifted if you have this.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This disc in Deutsche Grammaphon's "20/21" line of performances of contemporary music collects three violin concertos by three very different American composers with a spotlight on Gidon Kremer, virtuoso of modern violin repetoire. Philip Glass, Leonard Bernstein, and Ned Rorem are all composers enjoying popular acclaim and have been associated with New York, yet their styles have little in common. Philip Glass is well-known for minimalism, Ned Rorem for a rural and pastoral ethic, and Bernstein for his theatrical endeavours.

Philip Glass' three-movement "Concerto for violin and orchestra" (1987) is fairly entertaining but wholly uninsightful. I think minimalism is one of the greatest disasters to befall contemporary music, and has provided more charlatans than any other style (and I would definitely include Glass among such). I prefer the zahlenmystik of Gubaidulina, the frenetic business of Lindberg, or even the academic stylings of early Boulez. Yet, I can appreciate some works of Reich and Part. The music of Glass, on the other hand, lacks innovation and is so blatantly derivative of his passionate music of yesteryear, and this piece comes from what even many Glass fans consider to have been his darkest days. This piece is performed by the Wiener Philharmonik with Christoph von Dohanyi, who give an unobjectionable go at this dull piece.

The second piece on the disc is Ned Rorem's "Violin Concerto" (1984). Six movements conceived by the composer as songs (but lacking words), the piece could also fairly be called, says Rorem in the notes, a concertino or variations or even a suite. The Romantic first movement "Twilight", sparse with violin above strings, leads to a second movement "Toccata-Chaconne" with admirable use of percussion as a major player in its own right.
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Glass/Rorem: Violin Concertos; Bernstein: Serenade
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