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The swan's song from a maestro,
This review is from: The Final Concert (Audio CD)
Bernstein declines bodily, but never decays mentally. The Britten and Beethoven recording itself offers an arguably convincing reading that silently yet confidently defies any cynicism or aesthetic purism by amateur crtitics like Changqiaowopo.
To start with Britten's Sea Preludes, Bernstein deLiberately slows down its tempo to create a dreamy mood that is carefully maintained throughout. The orchestral coloring is indeed less than dazzling or shiny, yet it paradoxically opens up a new way that is strangely untypical of Bernstein, ie, serene and unaggressive. It greatly inspires and induces thoughts, instead of arguing violently for sth specific or concrete. Not only a great musician per se, Bernstein turns out to be a masterly "painter", not with brushes, but the baton!!!
As to Beethoven's Symphony 7, Bernstein refuses to be as fiery as before. Instead, he becomes somewhat introvert and indirect. To those who claim this reading as too sluggish or un-Beethoven, I can only argue that their minds seem to be too narrow and fixed to adapt to any new ideas or new ways of thinking. One thing must be stated clearly, that is, Bernstein does not try to be too "individualistic" here, as Changqiaowopo wrongly and unfairly accuses. He observes all possible repeats exactly in accordance with Beethoven's notations, and conducts the sforzandi extremely literally in the Scherzo. The narrative tensions are gradually built up to a due climax, forming a natural contrast between sound and silence, not exaggerating at all, as Changxiaowopo unwittingly(somewhat freakishly, I have to say) argues!!!For me, Bernstein's creativity lies in the heightened emotions ¡°recollected in tranquility¡±£¨Òý×Ô»ª×È»ªË¹Ê«ÂÛ), as is reflected in his reading of Beethoven 7th. He is indeed sad and mourning for his incoming demise(who will not?), but he does not weep or sob in a cowardly way. He blends the meditations on his own fate with Beethoven's elegaic yet occasionally exuberant subjectivity. He is really conversing with Beethoven in due respect, and talking so well in the most ineloquent way!!!Even Karajan or Carlos Kreiber have to look up to this landscape of golden sunset for their own shameless lack of restraint and depth!