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White House Cantata

Leonard Bernstein , Kent Nagano , Barbara Hendricks , Kenneth Tarver , Thomas Hampson , June Anderson , London Voices Audio CD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Performer: Barbara Hendricks, Kenneth Tarver, Thomas Hampson, June Anderson, London Voices
  • Conductor: Kent Nagano
  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein
  • Audio CD (September 12, 2000)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B00004VU0I
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,774 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. A White House Cantata: Part I: Prelude
2. A White House Cantata: Part I: President George Washington (1789 - 97) - Ten Square Miles By The Potomac River (George Washington And Congress Choose A Location For the Capital City.) (President Washington, Delegates Of The 13 States)
3. A White House Cantata: Part I: President John Adams (1797 - 1801) - If I Was A Dove (Little Lud Escapes From Slavery...) (Little Lud, Slaveowners)
4. A White House Cantata: Part I: President John Adams (1797 - 1801) - Welcome Home, Miz Adams (... And Helps Abigail Adams Find The Unfinished White House.) (White House Servants)
5. A White House Cantata: Part I: President John Adams(1797 - 1801) - Take Care Of This House (Mrs. Adams, Little Lud)
6. A White House Cantata: Part I: President Thomas Jefferson (1801 - 09) - The President Jefferson Sunday Luncheon March (Thomas Jefferson entertains.) (President Jefferson, Guests)
7. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Madison (1809 - 17) - Seena (Grown-Up Lud Admires Thomaseena, Another Young Servant. (Lud)
8. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Madison (1809 - 17) - Sonatina (The British Dine At The White House.) (Admiral Cockburn, Officers Of The Royal Navy, Lud)
9. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Monroe (1817 - 25) - Lud's Wedding (Lud And Seena Are Married.) (Lud, Seena, Chorus)
10. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Monroe (1817 - 25) - The Monroviad (James And Eliza Monroe Are Sleepless. He Had Decided To Send All The Blacks, Including The Servants, To Liberia. His Wife Disagrees.) (President Monroe, Mrs. Monroe)
11. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Monroe (1817 - 25) - This Time (For Lud And Seena, And For All Blacks, The Streets Of Washington Have Become More Dangerous.) (Seena, Lud)
12. A White House Cantata: Part I: President James Buchanan (1857 - 61) - We Must Have A Ball (How Can James Buchanan Avert A Civil War? (President Buchanan)
13. A White House Cantata: Part II: President Andrew Johnson - Bright And Black (Following Lincoln's Abolition Of Slavery And The End Of The Civil War, The White House Servants Celebrate Their Future.) (Henry, Little Lud, Seena, Lud, Other Servants)
14. Part II: Presidents Ulysses S. Grant (1869 - 77) And Rutherford B. Hayes (1877 - 81) - Duet For One (At The Hayes Inauguration, Julia Grant And Lucy Hayes Reflect On Their Futures - And On One Another.) (Mrs. Grant, Mrs. Hayes, President Hayes, Judge)
15. A White House Cantata: Part II: President Chester Alan Arthur (1881 - 85) The Money-Lovin' Minstrel Show: (A) Minstrel Parade (President Arthur Entertains Mr. Rockefeller And Mr. Vanderbilt With A Minstrel Show.) (Minstrels, Mr. Simoleon, Shekel Brothe...
16. A White House Cantata: Part II: President Chester Alan Arthur (1881 - 85) - The Money-Lovin' Minstrel Show: (B) Pity The Poor (Minstrels, Mr. Simoleon, Shekel Brothers)
17. A White House Cantata: Part II: President Chester Alan Arthur (1881 - 85) - The Money-Lovin' Minstrel Show: (C) The Grand Old Party (Minstrels, Mr. Simoleon, Shekel Brothers)
18. A White House Cantata: Part II: President Theodore Roosevelt (1901 - 09) - To Make Us Proud (Theodore Roosevelt Brings New Dedication To A New Century.) (President Roosevelt, Entire Company)

Editorial Reviews

There is a resurgence of interest in Leonard Bernstein the composer these days. This disc helps to readdress the hegemony of West Side Story, a piece that has tended to eclipse his remaining output. Bernstein prepared A White House Cantata as a concert version of the musical that was written in collaboration with Alan Jay Lerner, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The cantata presents scenes that are centered on the White House, and simultaneously explores racial issues, in an engaging and often witty (sometimes hilarious) way. DG has assembled an all-star cast: Thomas Hampson is the perfect choice for the President, his voice deep and authoritative. The production is blessed also with the excellent chorus London Voices; the LSO under Kent Nagano is in top form. Special mention should go also to 15-year-old Victor Acquah, who is quite superb in "If I Was a Dove." Bernstein's musical voice is archetypically American, and his country of origin is immediately apparent in the nostalgic prelude. His send-up of perceived Englishness is deliciously witty, but it is when Bernstein is in inspirational mode that he is most successful. --Colin Clarke

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's About Time November 5, 2000
Format:Audio CD
It's amazing that it took almost 25 years to get this much of "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" onto a CD. It's even more amazing to hear it again after all these years. I have a small association with the show, having been a member of the pit orchestra for its month-long tryout at the Forest Theater in Philadelphia. (Actually, the orchestra was so big that it would not fit into the pit, leaving conductor Roland Gagnon to conduct into a TV camera while we were behind a scrim at the back of the stage - on two levels - watching him on a monitor.)
The problems with the show always stemmed from the book, not the music. As I listen to the lyrics 25 years later, they seem a bit more clever than I remember. But you have to examine the mood of the country when this show premiered. In1976, we were just past the horror of Vietnam and into the period of "malaise," as President Carter called it. The country just wanted some time to chill out, and here comes this highly touted musical (Coca-Cola put up over a million dollars - a record for that time - in sponsorship money) full of messages about racial injustice. People wanted to tap their toes and have a good time. Alan Jay Lerner and Leonard Bernstein were not about to let them do that.
As I recall, Lerner was kind of a basket case during the rehearsals, sitting quietly, and wearing leather gloves. Bernstein was as flamboyant as the legends that followed him. Sid Ramin and Hershey Kay kept coming into the pit with little slips of paper each day. Each slip would have changes that were made the previous night, and they would tape them to our music.
The music for "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" is brilliant in spite of the lyrics. Music like this had never been heard in the theater.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The honor of your presence isn't quite requested... September 24, 2000
Format:Audio CD
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue played for 7 performances on Broadway in 1976. To say it had a troubled life is something of an understatement. But whatever other problems the show had, it at least had a wonderful score. And so does A White House Cantata, a concert recording of some of the music from the show. It's not exactly what was heard on Broadway, but rather a compilation of some of the best music from all the incarnations of the show. The music is almost completely superb, but the performances are often lacking--1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was musical THEATRE, and not enough of the theatre is in evidence here. "Duet for One," for example, is a brilliant song in which the present First Lady and the past First Lady quibble during the Inauguration, with the catch being they are both played by one actress! But that number, among others, don't play on this recording very well. I have to recommend it just for the magnificent music, but this recording simply doesn't capture the show itself very well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A mixed but decided blessing. February 2, 2001
Format:Audio CD
I'll counter-intuitively start with the bottom line: this album is a delightful listen, and is necessary for serious fans of musical theatre as well as Bernstein admirers.
What precedes the bottom line, though, is less pleasant. This isn't a terribly theatrical recording -- DG chose to eschew singing actors (such as those who were so vibrant in the original production of this failed show) in favor of legitimate singers. Moreover, there is little dialogue preserved (though I admit that I would not like to see any songs omitted to make room for it). As a result, the score comes across much more strongly as music than as a representation of a theatrical event, and some of the lyrics aren't given their full due.
But it's still hard to dislike the album. June Anderson has been roundly criticized for her First Lady, but she's very good on all of the songs that don't require her to excel at comedy. The showstopper "Duet For One" does have such a requirement, but as it has already been brilliantly recorded by Judy Kaye, Anderson's botch job is less of a tragedy.
The other lead, Thomas Hampson, is a fine singer with real presence on his major numbers. Everyone else in the cast does well enough, and the technical elements of the recording are fine.
Back to the bottom line: the score sparkles, and it has been given exciting life by this cast. It isn't the recording we might have hoped to hear, but what we now have is priceless.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, forgotten score. May 22, 2001
Format:Audio CD
"A White House Cantata" is a vitally important piece of work. It is the only document we have of one of Broadway's most legendary flops (rivalled only by Irving Berlin's "Mr. President"), "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue." Bernstein and Lerner spent four years ('72-'76) working on the score and book, then obtained nearly a million dollars from Coca Cola to stage the show. The result? An unmitigated disaster for all involved. The reason? Lerner's characteristically convoluted, muddled book. The score and lyrics were almost universally praised.
Bernstein forbid a cast recording after "1600" closed following only seven performances on Broadway. Until now, only "Take Care of This House" obtained a life of its own; the rest of the score, though parts were later recycled by Bernstein in other pieces, languished unheard. Finally, someone has been interested enough to take approximately half of Bernstein's massive score and make an absolutely superb recording of it. "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" is, at last, available (albeit in a drastically abridged form) for those who might have been wondering what exactly the show was about.
The score is a masterpiece and this recording is first-rate. Though many reviewers have complained about the "operatic" performances on the disc, Bernstein set Lerner's lyrics in an operatic fashion. Lerner, a superb interpreter of his own songs, said numerous times that the songs in "1600" were the only ones he wasn't able to sing. The performances are magnificent, exactly as Bernstein intended for them to be sung. This wasn't written to be standard Broadway fare.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a great find!
This is a re-assembling of some of the music from the failed 1976 Lerner-Bernstein musical "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue". Read more
Published 13 months ago by Tom Tsukada
5.0 out of 5 stars The best musical theatre score of the 1970's
Do yourself a favor and listen to one of the most complex theatre scores ever written. With lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Leonard Bernstein, this cd will haunt you for the... Read more
Published on July 3, 2005 by RareRare
2.0 out of 5 stars A flop, maybe, but still better onstage
One of my fondest memories of going to the theatre as a kid was the opening number of "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue" entitled "Rehearse. Read more
Published on March 16, 2001
3.0 out of 5 stars A Week of Flops Revisited
It was Thursday, May 6, 1976 and I was in New York for a business trip and what was to become my weekend of Broadway flops. Read more
Published on February 20, 2001 by Robert Edler
I agree with the less enthusiastic reviews above. 1600 Penn Ave has sort of become a cult flop and this recording doesn't seem to justify those who argue that it's a great lost... Read more
Published on January 9, 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Look who's taking care of the house!
Here is one of the finest casts ever assembled to record this heretofore unavailable work. June Anderson and Thomas Hampson have worked with Lenny and really know how to bring out... Read more
Published on November 1, 2000 by SDP
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Bernstein Musical Marvel
This is another gem Bernstein has produced that has finally got some attention. Despite the fact that some of the entire work was removed it is still great. Read more
Published on September 28, 2000 by Swedish classical music lover
4.0 out of 5 stars This could have been a lot better, but why quibble?
A White House Cantata is actually from Leonard Bernstein's last piece for the Broadway stage, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, written in 1976. Read more
Published on September 14, 2000 by "path31783"
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