on 25 August 2008
How could one better Bernstein's own recording of his 1956 Candide? The soloists are mostly excellent. Jerry Hadley makes for a good optimistic and naive Candide; June Anderson's Candide is a spoilt madam with complete control over her voice, most obviously in 'Glitter and be Gay'; Christa Ludwig makes a very good woman with only one buttock, and it's rather charming to see her in the background during other numbers, smiling at the subtle jokes. Pangloss is a good choice too.
The quality of the recording is not brilliant - there is one awful moment of June Anderson being out of focus for what is far too long - but given the age, date, and probably the size of audience purchasing this DVD, it may not have proved economic to fully master it.
The overall joy of this recording, however, is Bernstein. He jumps and bounces about, bring the best out of the London Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, his facial expressions being among the most exciting of any conductor I have seen.
All in all, a superb buy.
on 12 February 2010
I would love to give this performance an unqualified five stars but there are too many reservations.
After living with, and loving, the cd version for 18 years I bought this dvd expecting it to add a new dimension to the Candide experience. After all, both cd and video versions of the Barbican "On the Town" are well worth buying, the visuals on tape adding much to what you hear on cd, but the cd including extra numbers and having better sound.
In this Candide, casts for both cd and dvd are identical and recordings were made days apart.
Unlike the Barbican "On the Town" this is a pure concert performance. There is some hamming-it-up - Christa Ludwig does an endearing fandango to "I am easily assimilated" - but no real acting. So in that respect little is added to the cd performance. Bernstein gives an introduction and provides commentary throughout but fails to add much to the story which is, let's face it, a convoluted hodge-podge of barely-connected events. There is certainly a sense of occasion and Lenny is never less than a soul-touching communicator. But he and most of the cast were fighting a flu bug rampant in London at that time and as valiantly as they try, they just cannot inject those last few ounces of verve that's needed in a performance of this work.
Is it worth buying? One way or another, you should get to know the music. But I cannot see what the dvd offers over the cd unless you were at the performance live and would like a memento of what was an historic occasion. The cast was an excellent one. Flu or no flu, the performance is good and it is particularly poignant to see and hear the late Jerry Hadley.
For my tastes the Lincoln Center dvd, with Marin Alsop conducting the New York Phil, Chenoweth playing Cunegonde and Thomas Allen brilliantly performing the dual roles of narrator and Pangloss (almost managing to make sense of the story) is a vastly more enjoyable experience in almost every way. Why that is yet to be released in the UK, I don't know. But if your player has multi-region capabilities, you can pick it up on the US or Canada Amazon site.
In 1989, Leonard Bernstein committed to record what was to be a definitive version of his masterpiece (my opinion) "Candide", which despite a host of wonderful melodies, has enjoyed a somewhat chequered career. Accompanying the recording was a series of concerts and this DVD is a record of one of them. Despite most of the cast (and the conductor/composer) being afflicted with heavy colds, the DVD is wonderfully enjoyable, a fantastic record of what must have been a memorable evening. Moreover, it is an almost ideal performance of a work which has proved perennially difficult to stage, helped to a large extent by the witty linking narration (written by the composer and John Wells), which is truer to the spirit of Voltaire's original "conte" than any staged production can be. As such, I find the DVD more satisfying than the CD (which I also own). The narration is wittily delivered by the composer, Kurt Ollman, an amusingly conceited Maximilian, and Adolph Green, who plays both Pangloss and Martin. You can't help but like Mr G (and marvel at his teeth) and the obvious rapport and friendship he has with Lenny is really quite endearing, but somehow I would have preferred the sort of singer/actor schooled in G&S, perhaps someone like Nickolas Grace, who performed the role for Scottish Opera, or Richard Suart, here one of a group of male comprimario singers which includes such luminaries as Neil Jenkins, John Treleaven and Clive Bayley. Jerry Hadley is perfect in the title role, despite audibly suffering from a cold and June Anderson makes much of "Glitter and be gay". The great Christa Ludwig has a rare old time as the Old Lady, really throwing herself into the spirit of things and while the same cannot be said of Nicolai Gedda, his ageing but still virile tenor is still a delight to hear in his various assignments. Della Jones is luxury casting in the tiny part of Paquette and the members of the chorus seize their opportunities gratefully in their brief solo spoken utterances. It is a wonderful DVD; buy it!
on 25 October 2013
I had heard the overture many times in concert and when I saw in browsing the DVD I jumped at the chance to buy. It was a good choice.
Bernstein gives a brief introduction before conducting, and adds a few comments during the performance. There is some interaction between the characters which adds interest and humour.
Adolph Green is Dr Pangloss and acts as narrator and link man.
The strong cast includes the excellent Jerry Hadley, delightful June Anderson and Christa Ludwig. They are ably supported by Della Jones and Kurt Ollmann.
Highlight for me is June Anderson with "Glitter and be Gay".
I also have the Lincoln centre version with Paul Grove. It is difficult to compare the two as the Paul Grove version is semi-staged and is great fun. If you have both you cannot go wrong.
The singers are very much on a par but June Anderson sings better than Kirsten Chernowith, but what fun Chernowith is! Also the approach to the "Old Lady" is quite different with Patti Lupone having a show type of voice while Christa Ludwig has a n operatic approach.
on 6 May 2016
Bernstein had nine months to live when he made this recording in December 1989. You'd never believe it. Despite a dose of what was known as 'the royal flu', he jumps and dances with the music.
And let's not forget what a wonder the music is. Essentially a love letter to European operetta, this concert performance is consistently excellent. Jerry Hadley, now sadly no longer with us, also had the flu but battled on. Clearly DG dubbed some of his solos but that doesn't distract from the overall pleasure of this joyful and profound piece.
The one weak spot, for me, is the casting of Nicolay Gedda. This is inexplicable and his English in some of the patter songs simply isn't up to it.
However, this is the best version you'll ever hear and by the final anthem, 'We'll make our garden grow', you should be weeping. Adolph Green makes an impressive Pangloss and in the final words of the piece, 'Any questions'. there is true joy on his face.
So let's be clear - if you want to hear the music, without the trouble of making it work on the stage (almost impossible) then this is the definitive version of this work, although it is troublingly expensive for a nearly 30 year old performance.
Buy it! Glitter and be gay, make your garden grow in this best of all possible worlds.
on 12 September 2012
DVD is brilliant! Great music and conducted by the wonderful man himself. Could only put 4 stars though because I misread and thought it was an actual performance. It is, however, only a concert type thing. Everyone stands and sings instead of acting. Still brilliant though, everything spot on :)
on 13 November 2014
This is one of the most brilliant things I have ever seen - Leonard Bernstein is wonderful, as are all the other performers (because he is a performer too). And the lyrics are the wittiest ever. I cannot recommend this too highly to anyone who loves Bernstein, opera or comedy or Voltaire.
on 30 April 2015
Old recording, great to see the old maestro himself, Candide is hard to understand, but that is nothing to do with the actual performance, or the quality of the DVD. Would recommend to fans.
on 15 January 2016
It took me a while to get into Candide, but now knowing Voltaire's story it makes sense, and I love it. Worth the money for the overture and the finale.
on 20 September 2014
This has to be one of the best company performing Candide and having Bernstein conducting his work was an added bonus.