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Bernstein: Symphonies No. 1 - Jeremiah, & No. 2 - The Age of Anxiety (Bernstein Century) CD

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, CD, February 16, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

CD has 18 tracks. 1999 Sony Music Entertainment

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. I. Prophecy
  2. II. Profanation
  3. III. Lamentation
  4. a. The Prologue: Lento moderato
  5. b. The Seven Ages: Variations 1 - 7
  6. c. The Seven Stages: Variations 8- 14
  7. a. The Dirge: Largo
  8. b. The Masque: Extremely fast
  9. c. The Epilogue: Adagio; Andante; Con Moto
  10. I. Moderato
  11. II. Allegretto vivace
  12. III. Sostenuto - Allegro molto
  13. IV. Con brio
  14. V. Moderato, alla marcia - Andante
  15. I. Plum Pudding
  16. II. Queues de Boeuf (Ox-tails)
  17. III. Taveuk Gueunksis
  18. IV. Civet à Toute Vitesse (Rabbit at Top Speed)

Product Details

  • Performer: Philippe Entremont
  • Orchestra: New York Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein
  • Audio CD (February 16, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Alliance
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000I0W2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #213,404 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Santa Fe Listener HALL OF FAME on January 8, 2007
Format: Audio CD
After winning the Pulitzer Prize for his "Jeremiah" Sym., Bernstein remained in top form as a composer throughout the late Forties and Fifties. His 'Age of Anxiety' Sym. #2 is refeshingly jazzy, and Philippe Entremont plays as if to the manner born in the long piano solos. Both of LB's other symphonies capture a specifically Jewish-Biblical significance that meant much to the composer but hasn't worn well. The Age of Anxiety is more like his Ballet Fancy Free, a comment, wry and often witty, on modern city life. It captures Auden's mournful sophistication perfectly, even if you haven't read the poem that inspired the music.

One could ask for no better recording--LB's remake on DG is a contender but not the equal of this. Playing and recording are perfect. The two humorous song cycles sung by LB's great friend Jennie Tourel are a mere fillip to a CD that's stingy on timing but a gem otherwise.
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Format: Audio CD
The Jeremiah Symphony, which I heard recently played by the Baltimore Symphony under Bernstein protego Marin Allsop, is a fascinating piece. Written when Bernstein was only 26, it shows astonishing assurance and mastery of the orchestra.
Divided into three movements, in the first we hear the prophet warning the people of Judea of impending disaster using a theme familiar from the daily Jewish liturgy. The second is in many ways the best movement based on the theme of the "haftorah" cantillation -- the excerpts from the writings of the prophets chanted in synagogues every Saturday. But how inventively Bernstein uses the material!
The final movement, after the disaster, features a soprano solo singing words from the Book of Lamentations.
Listening to this work I heard echoes of the later Bernstein but also of Copeland -- it is Jewish music but also American music. Strangely, I am chanting Jeremiah himself on the second day of the Jewish New Year this month. The selection is more upbeat. The prophet hears Rachel weeping for her dead children but tells her to dry her tears, assuring her that God will bring them back to Zion and Jerusalem, dancing with joy, old and young alike.
And so it came to pass.
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Leonard Bernstein can sometimes be seen as a celebrity amongst casual classical listeners which is due in large part to his conducting career, but a deeper look into this very influential and passionate personality lies a man of strong musical integrity. Yes, he composed "Westside Story" and went on to write "Candide," which were both successful, but he composed serious music as well. This particular side of his composing seems to be overshadowed by the more energetic, danceable music that made him famous as a composer. I think with "Symphony No. 1" titled "Jeremiah," Bernstein silenced all notions that he was merely a composer after popular appeal.

The other symphony on this disc is "Symphony No. 2 - The Age of Anxiety," which, if anything, is a concertante work much like Szymanowski's "Symphony No. 4" is a concertante work, but let's not get too concerned with what the work actually is and let me just say this work will blow your socks off! I would say both "Symphony Nos. 1 & 2" are two of Bernstein's strongest works as far as being a serious composer is concerned. Another Bernstein work (not represented on this recording) that is gaining repertoire status as of late is "Serenade," which is essentially a violin concerto and has been performed by many big names in classical music: Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn, Itzhak Perlman, Anne-Sophie Mutter to name a few.

It's hard to pinpoint what this music sounds like, because there are so many strains of his influences that rear their head here and there. At one point I hear Mahler and another I hear Gershwin. I think Bernstein, much like composers Poulenc, Ravel, or even his hero Mahler, was ingenious in the way he combined serious music with lighter, more low cultured music.
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Format: Audio CD
Leonard Bernstein, an American icon and perhaps the best known conductor, composer, and music teacher from the New World, may be famous for his Broadway shows such as the entertaining out-of-the-war feeling "On the Town", and the fun and at the same time brooding story of New York's star-crossed "West Side Story". Give him some time though if you only know the "American" side of the composer.

He never threw away his Jewish heritage, and this first symphony "Jeremiah" enclosed in the CD is one of the prime examples of witnessing Lenny's musician expression as a Jew.

I love this symphony because despite it's musical complexity easy enough to tell it's 20th century genre, the sheer tragic theme of this piece is strong enough to make me bow down in tears. The piece is in three movements; first tells of Jeremiah's pleading to the people, the nailbiting second the corruption done by the people, and the third the lamentation of Jeremiah to Jerusalem, "ruined, pillaged, and dishonored after his desparate efforts to save it". Ms. Jennie Tourel sang brilliantly in the movement.

The second symphony "The Age of Anxiety" is another example of Lenny's serious and musically dark and modern side of music. Based on the poem by W.H. Auden with the same name, it will take you through this spiritual and moral journey.

I was quite charmed with Lenny's two easy song cycles "I Hate Music!" and "Four Recipes". And once again, kudos to Ms. Tourel. Just take a listen and you'll feel like you're a little innocent child again. The songs are as elementary and bright as a Mother Goose rhyme.
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