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Bernstein - Chichester Psalms CD
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Chichester Psalms - On the Town - On the Waterfront / Orchestre Symphonique de Bournemouth - Marin Alsop, direction
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:
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Terje Rypdal: Lux Aeterna
John Adams: El Niño --Andrew McGregor
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window
Top Customer Reviews
"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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lovely choral CD. Psalms and movie music side by side with contrasting shades. Skillfully captured by the maestro. Love it all.!Published 9 months ago by zazeinforties
I am absolutely thrilled with this purchase. A lovely reminder of the time when I sang this with a big choir. Fabulous, and sent so quickly, brilliant. Many thanksPublished 12 months ago by Artistic
This is a perfectly good recording. I found it just a bit disappointing but that may be because I have sung in the chorus of the Chichester Psalms - which was very exciting. Read morePublished on 23 April 2014 by Jane
Delightful music, well performed by a fine choir, orchestra and soloists. Accompoanying music makes the CD a very good choice.Published on 14 July 2013 by John N Dix
I wanted a recording of the above and the Marin Alsop and Bournemouth S O is great. I am very happy with this it is almost as good as the live concert I heard.Published on 24 Jun. 2013 by Ephesian