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Leonard Bernstein: Album Collection Box set

11 customer reviews

Price: £68.80 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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A musician of unparalleled versatility, Leonard Bernstein achieved worldwide renown in a career spanning nearly five decades - as an inspiring conductor and teacher, as a wide-ranging composer and author, as a gifted pianist.

As composer, he created a body of works extraordinarily diverse in form and style: for example, three symphonies (Jeremiah, The Age of Anxiety and Kaddish) the ... Read more in Amazon's Leonard Bernstein Store

Visit Amazon's Leonard Bernstein Store
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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Oct. 2014)
  • Number of Discs: 80
  • Format: Box set
  • Label: Columbia
  • ASIN: B00LL4U1TE
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 31,167 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description

Leonard Bernstein Edition
All of his CBS concerto and orchestral works recordings plus much more!

Following the tremendously successful 2010 release of “Leonard Bernstein: The Symphony Edition”, Sony Classical is delighted to announce an even bigger new reissue from the iconic conductor-composer’s CBS/American Columbia discography. Virtually every remaining orchestral album has been collected in this single extraordinary boxset. That means every concerto, symphonic poem, overture, ballet, dance, march etc. that Bernstein recorded in New York between 1950 and 1976 (plus some in London, Paris and Israel) by nearly every composer in the standard repertoire. From Bach and Vivaldi to Barber, Bartók and Ligeti, as well as many of the most prominent 20th-century Americans, such as Ives, Copland, Gershwin, and Carter. And, of course, copious recordings of music composed by Leonard Bernstein himself.

Most notably, there are multiple recordings of the Beethoven and Brahms concertos and of Bernstein’s concertante works, as well as music by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, Ravel, Rachmaninoff, Sibelius and Nielsen. Featured throughout are some of the greatest soloists of the day, among them the violinists Isaac Stern, Zino Francescatti and Pinchas Zukerman and the pianists Glenn Gould, Rudolf Serkin, Philippe Entremont, André Watts, Gary Graffman and Robert Casadesus as well as Bernstein himself.

A few examples: There are Glenn Gould and Bernstein’s Beethoven Piano Concertos, “high on musical intelligence and untrammelled vitality” (Gramophone). The Brahms Violin Concerto with Zino Francescatti: “This may well be the [version] you will like best” (Gramophone). Bernstein conducting and playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue – “the one indispensable recording of this familiar work, paired with an equally fine American in Paris” (New York Times). Barber’s Violin Concerto with Isaac Stern “at his searching best” (New York Times) and Bartók to which Stern “brings an enviable combination of tautness and lyricism, steely strength and melting beauty of tone. The accompaniment is sensitive and subtle” (Penguin Guide). There is an ardent, hair-raising performance of Berlioz’s Harold in Italy as well as “one of the best versions” of Strauss’s Don Quixote with a “vintage supercharged Bernstein” and “the New York PO on starry form” (BBC Music Magazine).

There are Bernstein’s “marvellous” (ClassicsToday.com) Beethoven overtures. There is his reading of the “Sea Interludes” from Britten’s Peter Grimes, of which he conducted the US premiere. Nearly all the major orchestral works by Bernstein’s mentor and friend Aaron Copland are here: “Even the composer couldn’t make Appalachian Spring, Rodeo and Billy the Kid dance the way Bernstein does” (New York Times). There is Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye Suite, played “with exquisite gentleness and much atmosphere. One can sense Bernstein’s feeling for the music in every bar” (Penguin Guide). There are overtures by Rossini and Wagner, the Tchaikovsky ballet suites, Serenade for Strings, Romeo and Juliet, Capriccio italien, Francesca da Rimini and “1812” Overture, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, Holst’s Planets, Milhaud, Vaughan-Williams, Strauss waltzes and polkas, Sousa marches. And on and on…

Special mention must finally be made of the album that launched Leonard Bernstein’s international reputation as the most dynamic and charismatic conductor of his era. On January 20, 1958 – exactly two months after his appointment as the youngest music director in the New York Philharmonic’s history, as well as the first American to hold that position with a major orchestra – Columbia recorded him conducting the Philharmonic in Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The impact of that legendary performance has not diminished in more than half a century. Reviewing a 2013 reissue, ClassicsToday.com declared: “It has an excitement, spontaneity, and primal fury that no other version quite matches. No wonder Stravinsky heard this performance and reportedly was left speechless, save for an admiring ‘Wow!’” Listeners will be able to compare it with Bernstein’s 1972 remake with the London Symphony Orchestra, also included in this set: a reading of “similar dynamism and energy” (ClassicsToday.com), with “playing of seismic intensity” (BBC Music Magazine).

Sony Classical’s Bernstein box is an ideal survey of this all-embracing electrifying conductor’s unique accomplishments.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Anthony Smith on 17 Dec. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Two things to make clear at the outset: I am very pro-Bernstein's recordings; I have not yet listened to anywhere near all of the performances in this box. I have no hesitation, however, in hailing this as both a treasure trove and a tremendous bargain: 80 CDs for under £100! Sony are clearly making everything LB recorded (mainly) with the NYPO for CBS between 1951 and 1976 available on CD; we had the Symphony box before, and this new one has all his other Concerto and orchestral recordings ... except it would appear that a 3rd Vocal/Operatic box is planned, because vocal pieces are missing here. Some get through, such as the fabulous and criminally neglected performance of Falla's El Amour Brujo with Marilyn Horne, but you don't get the thrilling rendition of Beethoven's quirky Choral fantasy with Rudolf Serkin, nor, much to my annoyance, Brunhilde's Immolation with Eileen Farrell on the second Wagner disc.

Who should buy this set? Bernstein completists yes, even more so than the previous Symphony Collection, but also any real music lover, who wants to sample a huge range of music from the Baroque through light classical favourites to mid/late 20th century stuff in vital, wholly committed, exciting and warm performances, thrillingly and characterfully, if not always immaculately,
played. This is vintage Bernstein in every sense, before the duration of his interpretations expanded with his waist line. If you want smooth music making in the highest of hifi, then steer clear, but if you love recordings that communicate excitement andna genuine feeling for the music, then you shouldn't hesitate.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ultrarunner TOP 500 REVIEWER on 30 Oct. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I already own the Bruno Walter Sony Edition which is LP sized, as is this 2nd Leonard Bernstein Edition-concerto's and orchestral works. (SEE MY REVIEWS BELOW) So as the LP boxes are slightly unwieldy, I placed the Walter Edition, flat against the wall, on top of one of the many book shelves lining my lounge room, filled with CD's, including many box sets, Blurays and DVDs, plus Books. But as I wanted to own these sets, I do not care what shape of box they come in. Hence the title, " only for Lenny would I do this." However, the usual box sets containing up to 100 CDs, is the way to go, like the Membran Furtwangler Legacy of 107 CDs, or the Von Karajan collection 1938-1960- 117 CDs. However, if you do not like the idea of a LP sized box, there is another way to rectify the situation. The CD number, composer and music to be played is on the Spine, like the Toscanini RCA Box set sleeves; you can get rid of the Box and put the Bernstein CD Sleeves with your other single CDs.

The tough cardboard LP sized box is deeper than the Walter box set, behind, in white wording on a black background, in Alphabetical order, are the composers and the music played. Also, stating that it has every concerto, ballet dance, march, symphonic poem, overture and similar works Bernstein recorded in New York between 1950 and 1976 ( plus some in London, Paris and Israel.) The performances in this 80-CD set, nine for the first time on CD, come from the best sources.

Once you take off the lid which covers the red box, there is a tough plastic container devided into four spaces which contain the CDs. At the side is a thumb hole, where you can retrieve the discs. All the sleeves have different pictures of Bernstein.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Michael Wolff on 5 Nov. 2014
Format: Audio CD
I'm not commenting on the music. Anyone buying this box will do so because of Bernstein and they will probably have a degree of knowledge of his recordings.

Like others, I've been bemused by the recent propensity by DG & Sony for CD collections to be issued in LP sized boxes and I deliberately avoided the Sony Walter set for that reason. However, I suspect this reticence by me and them is in part a case of getting used to a major change in approach. Self evidently the one great bonus it offers is the opportunity to include an LP sized booklet, potentially a great asset if effectively utilised.

As it stands I think this issue is actually quite superlative. I'm so glad it's not another 'original covers' issue as these usually grossly waste CD capacity and thus shelf space. Each CD here is fully packed and the unique and individual images of Lennie on each of the 80 CD covers are quite exquisite and a joy to behold. However - and having only just received it - I have two observations:

1. The enclosed LP sized 'Book' is good with more wonderful photos, but slim and the opportunity was there to include a great deal more - maybe a storyboard on the recordings and a couple of pages of 'original cover' images !.

2. It's almost impossible to extract the last CD in each of the four piles without tipping the box upside down. What was needed was a silk strap to lift each block of twenty comfortably from its cavity.

Happy listening!
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kirk McElhearn TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 Oct. 2014
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I've obviously only just gotten this set, and only had time to listen to a couple of discs, but how can this not deserve five stars? After the first Sony box set a few years ago, which was all symphonies, it was necessary to fill out the collection with more orchestral works, such as overtures and concertos.

There are notable a lot of piano concertos, many by Glenn Gould, including the (in)famous Brahms 1 of April 1962, including Bernstein's introductory speech, where he explains that he and Gould don't agree, but they're going to do it Gould's way.

The first 26 discs contain mostly concertos, and the rest is essentially overtures and symphonies. There is a good amount of modern music - only one disc of Ives, but some Bartok, Copland, Ligeti, Piston, etc. I wonder if there's another box set coming, or if this covers all or most of what Bernstein recorded.

No matter what, at this price, it's really a no-brainer; but you should get the first Sony box. And the first DG box. And the second DG box which is coming out in 2015
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