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Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Copland: Appalachian Spring / Barber: Adagio for Strings Live

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Copland: Appalachian Spring / Barber: Adagio for Strings
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  • Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 1-4
Total price: £13.62
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Product details

  • Audio CD (14 May 2007)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Live
  • Label: Decca (UMO)
  • ASIN: B000N4SJJM
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,277 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Rhapsody In Blue - Leonard Bernstein, Los Angeles Philharmonic
  2. Adagio for Strings, Op.11 - Los Angeles Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein
  3. (Ballet for Martha) - Los Angeles Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein

Product Description

BERNSTEIN LEONARD / LOS ANGELE

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Though an enormous Bernstein fan, his piano work in Gershwins' Rhapsody was so frustratingly self-centered and quite distracting from the rhythm and pace of this iconic piece. I found myself wanting to nudge Lenny along to move the tempo to a pace where I could actually start enjoying the musical narrative rather than his laborious technique that seems almost parody rather than beauty.The orchestral interludes are a bit better, though not much; the deliberate tempo nuances just don't work with Rhapsody and nearly alter the impact and emotional tone of this lovely piece- the pompous staccato and emphatic punctuation are surprisingly awful.
Buy Previn's version of this on EMI, which interpret's Gershwin's composing the way it was intended to be heard, at least to my ears.
On a positve note,Bernsteins' interpretation of Barbers Adagio is sumptuous and gorgeous, my favourite version; so this album has huge contrasts, hence the three stars.
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Format: Audio CD
Bernstein's very very broadly paced rendition of Barber's Adagio is still unsurpassed for its almost painful emotional intensity and sublime beauty. When Bernstein takes a risk of extremely slow tempo, the music usually falls apart (the prime example; Elgar's Enigma Variation and Mahler's 2n & 8th), but with 'Adagio', it works! The way strings gradually build up the intensity and gather momentum is simply astounding and the long pause which follows the climax is awe-inspiring.

Rhapsody in Blue, with Bernstein at the piano, is also very impressive, with dazzling piano solo and powerfully expressive orchestra. What a superb pianist Bernstein was! He could have made a career as a concert pianist.
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Bought this CD mainly for what must be "THE DEFINITIVE VERSION" of "SAMUEL BARBERS ADAGIO FOR STRINGS" performed by the "LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA" Having listened to many many versions of this famous orchestral piece,this version conducted by "LEONARD BERNSTEIN" Must surely be the best of all ... Played at just the right "UNHURRIED" tempo that draws all the emotion from the piece and is an absolute joy to listen to. .... Gershwins "Rhapsody in blue" is also an excellent version .. Again conducted by the Master "Leonard Bernstein" ... All in all an excellent CD at the price for all lovers of good music.
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An album I purchased for my niece's birthday and was well received by her.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9470e9cc) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x952df270) out of 5 stars Bernstein at the piano and conducting, live in San Francisco, July 1982 27 Dec. 2014
By Phil (not) in Mågnoliá - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco, July 24, 1982, this is an enjoyable program of music from three American composers, works that Bernstein loved and had performed often over the course of his lifetime.

He was just about to turn 64 at the time of the concert and probably at the prime of his conducting and performing career. He and Ernest Fleischmann were just in the process of establishing the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute, which would continue to operate from 1982 through 1991 in association with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and he took the opportunity to record with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for the record label Deutsche Grammophon. This recording is one of the results of that collaboration.

Reviews by the 'professional' reviewers to the three pieces are generally complimentary. I especially enjoy the performance of Rhapsody in Blue simply because it features Bernstein himself at the piano. I don't think he missed a note, and the orchestra sounds great, beginning with the opening clarinet glissando performed with panache and style (I don't know the clarinetist but wish I did), and the LA Phil joins strongly and joyfully. I don't personally agree with Penguin - they say that "Bernstein rather goes over the top with his jazzing of the solos in Gershwin. Such rhythmic freedom was clearly the result of a live rather than studio performance. This does not match Bernstein's 1959 analogue coupling on Sony." Robert McColley, writing in Fanfare in 2002, commented that "He plays the demanding solo with élan and plenty of style. Besides demonstrating the influence of jazz, his finely shaped performance reminds one of the virtuoso concerto tradition descending from Liszt and Grieg." With respect to Bernstein's 1959 performance on Sony, it is also terrific. I like them both.

The second work on this recording is Barber's Adagio, and it is an excellent performance although the transition from the jazzy and upbeat Rhapsody, to the somber Adagio, is a bit disconcerting. Here Penguin is more complimentary, saying that "Bernstein's 1982 reading of the Adagio has something of the expansiveness of his interpretation of another slow movement with valedictory associations being given to it, Nimrod from Elgar's Enigma. In Barber, Bernstein's expressiveness is more restrained and elegiac, but his control of the climax - in what is substantially a live recording - is unerring. Recording is somewhat close but full and clear."

The final work on the CD is Copland's Appalachian Spring, another favorite and given an excellent performance here, another that Penguin likes, saying "Bernstein's DG version of Appalachian Spring was recorded at a liver performance, and the conductor communicates his love for the score in a strong yet richly lyrical reading and the compulsion of the music-making is obvious. The recording is close but not lacking in atmosphere, and it sounds extremely vivid."

Worth noting is that these same performances have been released by Deutsche Grammophon many times, sometimes coupled together as here and sometimes with other recordings. Here are a few of the alternative releases available here on Amazon, worth checking out from a price and availability standpoint, as well as to see what other reviewers have to say:

- Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Copland: Appalachian Spring / Barber: Adagio: included as part of a DG Leonard Bernstein Edition box set released in 1990. Includes brief liner notes discussing the three works.
- Rhapsody in Blue / Adagio / Appalachian Spring: (recording on this page) identical contents to the above
- Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Copland: Appalachian Spring; Barber: Adagio: identical contents to the above
- Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Bernstein: West Side Story / Barber: Adagio for Strings: another DG release, this one with the Gershwin and Barber but omitting the Copland, and including instead a selection of Bernstein's own pieces - selections from West Side Story, On the Town, and the Candide overture.

I have this particular recording as a result of purchasing the DG Leonard Bernstein Edition box set quite a few years ago, and have enjoyed it since that time.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94c931c8) out of 5 stars The Unsurpassed Account of Adagio for Strings 22 Feb. 2010
By Scriabinmahler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Bernstein's very very broadly paced rendition of Barber's Adagio is still unsurpassed for its almost painful emotional intensity and sublime beauty. When Bernstein takes a risk of extremely slow tempo, the music usually falls apart (the prime example; Elgar's Enigma Variation and Mahler's 2n & 8th), but with 'Adagio', it works! The way strings gradually build up the intensity and gather momentum is simply astounding and the long pause which follows the climax is awe-inspiring.

Rhapsody in Blue, with Bernstein at the piano, is also very impressive, with dazzling piano solo and powerfully expressive orchestra. What a superb pianist Bernstein was! He could have made a career as a concert pianist.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99cfb21c) out of 5 stars Stunning "Adagio," very good Copland, average Gershwin 31 Aug. 2009
By Uluru II - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is one of only a few discs Bernstein made with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and it was a very fruitful partnership. In the early 80's this orchestra was in top form, and Bernstein was able to draw some fantastic sounds from them.

As the title states, this recording of "Rhapsody in Blue" is not one of the best - not bad, but a little too indulgent and quirky to be definitive. Bernstein's recordings with his own NY Philharmonic are definitely superior. It would still serve as a decent introduction to those unfamiliar with the piece, it's just unlikely to be the aficionado's favorite.

"Appalachian Spring" is excellent. Again, it may not eclipse Bernstein's own classic recording with the NY Philharmonic, or for that matter Copland's various versions, but nonetheless the playing is spirited and grand and this version ranks with the best. Bernstein was a longtime champion of Copland and knew the music as well as anyone, and his interpretation here is typically "just right."

The real gem of this disc, though, is Barber's "Adagio." Personally, I think it's the finest of the 8 or so versions I'm familiar with, and better than Bernstein's NY Philharmonic recordings. He finds the perfect tone for the piece - appropriately somber and elegiac, but with levity, and glowing, vibrant sound from the strings. The cellos, especially, give me chills and moist eyes when they take over the main theme, becoming almost unbearably beautiful as they near the climax of the piece. Bernstein was known for aggressively wringing emotion from slow and sad music, often to the point of melodrama, but here he is wonderfully restrained. The string orchestration of the piece, and the musical content, have enough weight on their own that the real trick is to keep things comparatively light and flowing, even at the slow tempo - no extra emoting is necessary, and Bernstein knows this.

There is no lack of intensity at the appropriate moments, however. Things move forward with a feeling of inevitability, the phrasing just right, the various lines surfacing and receding in a delicate, perfect way. The effect is devastating.

Any fan of the "Adagio" needs to hear this version! The recording quality of the disc is great as well - though these are all live performances, I cannot hear any evidence of an audience, and the sound is full, balanced and sonorous. The clarity is such that I assumed it was recorded digitally - it is not digital, just an excellent analog recording.
HASH(0x949a4f90) out of 5 stars Leonard Bernstein (1918 - forever) 27 Dec. 2012
By Hiram Gòmez Pardo Venezuela - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Three pivotal NorthAmerican composers: Copland, Barber and Copland are performed by Lenny -in his autumnal years- at the front of the Angeles Philharmonic.

Rhapsody in Blue is a very personal view of Bernstein, very slow paced and intimate, shows us the unsaid facets of the work. You won't feel an outburst of vitality but the approach is interesting.

Barber's Adagio is performed with sidhereal mood, trascends the common performances one is used to listen.

Finally, the Appalachian Suite (probably the most beautiful, thoughtful and lyric Op. from the NorthAmerican repertoire ever written) is played also with that autumnal approach, giving a memorable treatment.

An album to collect.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x94986f00) out of 5 stars Deep waters 25 Feb. 2014
By musicnerd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Appalachian Spring and Barber Adagio show the deep waters of Leonard Bernstein. He finds a kind of inner stillness which is beautiful. The Los Angeles Philharmonic produces a really nice, transparent sound with good color. Blue for the Barber and green for the Copland. I think the Gershwin is weak, but the CD is generally great.
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