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.