Bernstein: Symphonies No. 1 - Jeremiah, & No. 2 - The Age of Anxiety (Bernstein Century) CD
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is a healthy resurgence of performances of the works of Leonard Bernstein, especially by the younger conductors who seem to be discovering his value afresh. Read morePublished on January 7, 2011 by Grady Harp
I agree with zmusicman in regard to THE AGE OF ANXIETY. Regarding the 2-clarinet PROLOGUE: it took me a while to realize that it's actually an organ tune transcribed for clarinets. Read morePublished on September 9, 2005 by Horst Meisterfluscher