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Bernstein - Chichester Psalms CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Marin Alsop
  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein
  • Audio CD (1 Sept. 2003)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B0000BX5KN
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,316 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

Chichester Psalms - On the Town - On the Waterfront / Orchestre Symphonique de Bournemouth - Marin Alsop, direction

BBC Review

Bernstein on a budget? Hmmmm, not sure. Lenny liked a certain amount of opulence: glitz and glamour, an expensive sound and maximum pizzazz. Be honest: would your first port-of-call be Bournemouth for this repertoire?

Well, hang on just one second: there's pedigree here, if you choose to look for it. A previous Principal Conductor, the American Andrew Litton, taught this orchestra to swing in a variety of works from Gershwin to Bernstein and Copland, raising standards as well as taking the orchestra touring back home in the States.

Marin Alsop goes one better: she was a Bernstein pupil, and in fact it was Bernstein who made her want to be a conductor in the first place, falling under his spell when her father took her as a nine-year-old to hear Bernstein conduct the New York Philharmonic. And that's her other advantage: Alsop is a native New Yorker, so when Bernstein depicts the exuberance of Times Square in the mid-40s in his first musical On the Town, she really knows the territory. The same holds true of the Symphonic Suite from Lenny's score for On the Waterfront, Elia Kazan's 1954 film exposing the corruption of the mafia-controlled dockyards - this is the dark side of the city, and Alsop and her Bournemouth band capture it as surely and atmospherically as they do the glitzy exuberance of On the Town...it reeks of adrenaline, and brutal oppression.

The main work though is Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, just about the most tonally optimistic work he composed, and in the simplicity and sentimentality of the Hebrew psalm settings, one of his most approachable yet still exhilarating scores. You need an excellent treble soloist, and Thomas Kelly is just that. Perhaps the singers, chorus and soloists, sound a bit British...just a touch restrained where you'd expect an American choir to let it all hang out, but the orchestra has a riot, and it's a very well-held recording: oomph plus air.

It may be cheap, it may have been recorded this side of the Atlantic, but it never shows. This really is bargain Bernstein; his pupil's done him proud.

Like This? Try These:

Shchedrin: Carmen Suite (Russian National Orchestra)

Terje Rypdal: Lux Aeterna

John Adams: El Niño --Andrew McGregor

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By RR Waller TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 15 Sept. 2011
Format: Audio CD
Alsop was a student of Bernstein's and obviously adored him; he was a natural and born teacher who inspired all that met him, either through his educational broadcasts, Tanglewood or his concerts. I have been fortunate enough to attend an Alsop performances, e.g. Bernstein's "Mass", Mahler Symphony Number Two, as well as a day's tutorial with her; she know her composers and the music well, as every good conductor does. On the podium, although she rarely does, I suspect she would like to leap as high as he did but restrains herself, perhaps unwilling to be seen to have been so deeply influenced, at least in gymnastics.

"The work was commissioned for the 1965 Southern Cathedrals' Festival at Chichester Cathedral by the cathedral's organist, John Birch, and the Dean, Walter Hussey. However, the world premiere took place in the Philharmonic Hall, New York on July 15, 1965 with the composer conducting, followed by the performance in the Chichester Festival on July 31, conducted by John Birch." Source: Wikipedia

This CD is a Naxos production and, in addition to a complete performance of the "Psalms", there is "One the Waterfront" and "On the Town". Naxos is an excellent, reasonably priced series and I recommend it as I recommend this CD. Alsop, the choirs and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra do Bernstein proud.

Buy it, especially at this sensible price.
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By A Customer on 28 Mar. 2004
Format: Audio CD
This recording of Bernstein's music is well worth trying. Rated highly by Gramophone magazine, it is well worth a hear.
The Chichester Psalms alone are good value, but the other tracks of Bernstein's music played admirably by the Bournmouth Symphony Orchestra are all excellent.
Buy it.
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By Marcia TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 18 Mar. 2011
Format: Audio CD
This Magnificent disc begins with the composition "On the Waterfront" a symphonic suite from the film. It is a six movement suite from the film score in which Bernstein cleverly incorporates much music that had been written for the film but had been savagely cut by Hollywood. Bernstein was not happy with that and puts things right by creating the suite with the cut pieces re instated. There is an atmospheric horn that begins the piece that evokes a sense of the New York East River Docks and the Saxophone and muted trumpets give a sense of the city. There is great emotion of anxious rhythms and the whole piece is exciting and expressive.

The next part of the Disc sandwiches a piece with an English connection with the Chichester Psalms before going back to a New York setting with the final pieces. This second work is Chichester Psalms. It is a composition that was originally commissioned in 1965 by the Dean of Chichester. He wanted something for the combined choirs of Winchester, Salisbury and Chichester cathedrals for an annual summer music festival. Having written to the American composer Bernstein he did not have to wait too long as work began straight away in New York.
It is interesting that Bernstein experimented with twelve tone composition but decided against the strict orthodoxy. Instead we get a harmonic simplicity with universal text.
It is scored for mixed choir, boy solo, strings, three trumpets, three trombones, two harps and percussion. There are three movements. The first begins with Psalm 108 (Awake, psaltery and harp! I will arouse the dawn) and ends with Psalm 100 (make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands) There is added percussion. Movement number two contains Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepard) and features the two harps.
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By Stanley Crowe TOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Nov. 2013
Format: Audio CD
The sound here is as good as I've heard from Naxos, and the balancing of the various elements in the Chichester Psalms is very well handled. Recently, I was listening to the Howells Requiem, and while Bernstein's Psalm settings sound nothing like it, there's a comparable feeling for the setting of a text to unpretentious and accessible music. It's a lovely piece, and chorus, orchestra, and soloists do it justice here. I liked the recording of the boy treble in the Ps. 23 section -- not too highlighted and thus fitting aptly into the texture of the piece. The other pieces seemed finely done to me -- the "On the Waterfront" suite is really a tone poem, and works beautifully as such. A lot of it is plangent and beautifully orchestrated, and it has sufficient variety and development not to overstay its welcome after 19 minutes. The three pieces from "On the Town" are jazzy, big-band fun, carried off here with great spirit. The orchestra sounds great throughout, and Alsop obviously loves her old mentor's stuff. All in all, a bargain at the price.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD was ordered as a 'used' item but appears to be brand new. It arrived just 3 days after placing my order and at the standard postage rate. The music itself will not disappoint anyone wanting a version of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms and is conducted by a former pupil of the composer. With the 3 Psalms timed at slightly under 18 minutes the addition of the Symphonic Suite from 'On the Waterfront' and the Three Dance Episodes from 'On the Town' makes the total playing time about 48 minutes. How these versions of Leonard Bernstein's works compare with others that are currently available I cannot say but to me this is an excellent CD.
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