Title - 'Complete Recordings: Deutsche Gramm. & Decca'
Artist - Leonard Bernstein
For those not in the classical know, Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. He was among the first conductors born and educated in the US to receive worldwide acclaim. According to music critic Donal Henahan, he was "one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history."
His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his music for West Side Story, Peter Pan, Candide, Wonderful Town, On the Town, On the Waterfront, his Mass, and a range of other compositions, including three symphonies and many shorter chamber and solo works.
Indeed, Bernstein was the first conductor to give a series of television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. He was a skilled pianist, often conducting piano concertos from the keyboard.
As a composer he wrote in many styles encompassing symphonic and orchestral music, ballet, film and theatre music, choral works, opera, chamber music and pieces for the piano. Many of his works are regularly performed around the world, although none has matched the tremendous popular and critical success of West Side Story.
In short, Leonard Bernstein was a musical titan of the 20th Century as a composer, a conductor and a communicator. “The greatest pianist among the conductors, the greatest conductor among composers, the greatest composer among pianists … He is a universal genius” - Arthur Rubenstein.
This 100th Anniversary Limited Numbered Edition Box-Set is the largest of DG’s suite of beautifully-conceived albums and sets marking the 2018 centenary of a remarkable human being and musical legends.
Leonard Bernstein’s Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon & Decca are presented together for the first time with his video-taped performances on Unitel here in this wondrous box set.
CD1-15 BEETHOVEN: The Symphonies ∙ Overtures ∙ Piano Concertos 3, 4, 5 (Zimerman) ∙ String Quartet Nos. 14 & 16 ∙ Missa solemnis ∙ Fidelio ∙ Ode an die Freiheit (Berlin 1989, Live)
THE FINAL CONCERT – BRITTEN: Four Sea Interludes ∙ BEETHOVEN: Symphony 7
CD16-30 BERNSTEIN: Symphonies 1-3 ∙ Chichester Psalms ∙ Serenade ∙ Fancy Free (ballet) ∙ Dybbuk: Suites 1 & 2 ∙ Songfest ∙ 8 Divertimentos ∙ A Musical Toast ∙ Slava ∙ On the Town (3 Dance Episodes) ∙ Facsimile ∙ Halil ∙ Mass: 3 Meditations ∙ On the Waterfront: Symphonic Suite ∙ Prelude, Fugues & Riffs ∙ West Side Story: Symphonic Dances ∙ Jubilee Games ∙ Candide ∙ West Side Story ∙ A Quiet Place
FOSS: The Song of Songs
GERSHWIN: Rhapsodie in Blue
ROREM: Violin Concerto
CD31-32 BIZET: Carmen
CD33-39 BRAHMS: Symphonies 1-4 ∙ Piano Concertos 1-2 ∙ Academic Festival Overture ∙ Variations on a Theme of Joseph Haydn ∙ Tragic Overture ∙ Concerto for Violin ∙ Concerto for Violin & Violoncello
CD40 BRUCKNER: Symphony No. 9
CD41-43 COPLAND: Appalachian Spring ∙ Symphony No. 3 ∙ Quiet City ∙ El Salon Mexico ∙ Concerto for Clarinet and Strings ∙ Music for the Theatre ∙ Connotations for orchestra
CD44 DEBUSSY: Images ∙ Prélude à l'après-midi d’un faune ∙ La Mer
CD45-46 DVORAK: Symphony No. 9 ∙ 8 Slavonic Dances ∙ Concerto for Violoncello
CD47 ELGAR: Enigma Variations ∙ Pomp and Circumstance ∙ From the Crown of India
CD48 FRANCK: Symphony in D minor
SAINT-SAENS: Le Rouet d'Omphale
ROUSSEL: Symphony No. 3
CD49 HARRIS: Symphony No. 3
W. SCHUMAN: Symphony No. 3
CD50-54 HAYDN: Symphonies Nos. 88, 92, 94, 102 ∙ Sinfonia Concertante ∙ Die Schöpfung ∙ Missa in tempora belli “Paukenmesse”
CD55 HINDEMITH: Symphony ‘Mathis der Maler’ ∙ Concert Music for String Orchestra and Brass ∙ Symphonic Metamorphoses
CD56 IVES: Symphony No. 2 ∙ The Gong ∙ Tone Roads No.1 ∙ Hymn ∙ Hallowe'en ∙ Central Park in the Dark ∙ The Unanswered Question
CD57 LISZT: A Faust Symphony
CD58 BOITO: Mefistofele ∙ Proloue
CD59-77 MAHLER: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 10 ∙ Das Lied von der Erde ∙ Des Knaben Wunderhorn ∙ Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen ∙ Kindertotenlieder ∙ Rückert-Lieder
CD78-79 MENDELSSOHN: Symphonies Nos. 3-5 ∙ Hebridean Overture
CD80-87 MOZART: Symphonies Nos. 25, 29, 35, 36, 38, 39, 40 ∙ Clarinet Concerto ∙ Piano Concertos Nos. 15 & 17 ∙ Ave verum corpus ∙ Exsultate jubilate ∙ Great Mass in C minor ∙ Requiem
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G
CD88-89 PUCCINI: La Bohème
CD90-91 SCHUBERT: Symphonies Nos. 8, 5, 9
CD92-94 SCHUMANN: Symphonies Nos. 1-4 ∙ Concerto for Violoncello ∙ Piano Concerto in A minor
CD95-97 SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphonies Nos. 1, 6, 7, 9
CD98-100 SIBELIUS: Symphonies Nos. 1, 2, 5, 7
CD101 R. STRAUSS: Salome (selections) ∙ 5 Songs for Voice & Orchestra
CD102-106 STRAVINSKY: L'oiseau de feu (Suite) ∙ Pulcinella (Suite) ∙ Petruschka ∙ Scenes de ballet ∙ Le Sacre du Printemps ∙ Symphony in C ∙ Symphony in 3 Movements ∙ Les Noces
CD107-111 TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6 ∙ Francesca da Rimini ∙ Fantasy Overture Romeo and Juliet ∙ Hamlet Overture ∙ Slavonic March ∙ Capriccio Italien ∙ 1812 Festival Overture
CD112-115 WAGNER: Tristan und Isolde
CD116-121 CONCERT & MUSICAL ANALYSIS on American Decca
Beethoven – Symphony No. 3 & Musical Analysis
Dvorak – Symphony No. 9 & Musical Analysis
Schumann – Symphony No. 2 & Musical Analysis
Brahms – Symphony No. 4 & Musical Analysis
Tchaikovsky – Symphony No. 6 & Musical Analysis
DVD1-8 BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 9 ∙ Missa Solemnis ∙ Choral-Fantasy ∙ Creatures of Prometheus ∙ Overtures ∙ String Quartet No. 14 ∙ Piano Concertos Nos. 1 – 5 ∙ Fidelio
DVD9-10 BERNSTEIN: Divertimento ∙ Serenade for Solo Violin & String Orchestra ∙ Candide
DVD11-14 BRAHMS: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 4 ∙ Piano Concerto Nos. 1 & 2 ∙ Concerto for Violin and Orchestra ∙ Concerto for Violin ∙ Violoncello and Orchestra
DVD15 GERSHWIN: An American in Paris
IVES: Symphony No. 2 ∙ The Unanswered Question
DVD16 HAYDN: Die Schöpfung
DVD17-27 MAHLER: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 10 ∙ Das Lied von der Erde ∙ Orchestral Songs
The Little Drummer Boy: An essay on Gustav Mahler by and with Leonard Bernstein
DVD28-29 MOZART: Great Mass in C minor ∙ Ave verum corpus ∙ Requiem
DVD30-31 SCHUMANN: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 4 ∙ Concerto for Violoncello
HAYDN: Concerto for Violoncello
DVD32 SHOSTAKOVICH: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 9
DVD33 TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphonies Nos. 4 & 5 ∙ Violin Concerto ∙ Andante cantabile
DVD34 BERNSTEIN: West Side Story – The Making of
DVD35 THE GIFT OF MUSIC
DVD36 ROSTROPOVICH / BERNSTEIN: Schumann Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra
Blu-ray Audio BEETHOVEN: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 9
Furthermore, these 121 CDs (with each album presented in original jackets), 36 DVDs and 1 Blu-ray audio disc also come with a rather spectacular 200-page book with extensive documentation.
This fantastic book features:
1. A preface by Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie Bernstein; and essays from:
2. Nigel Simeone, editor of The Bernstein Letters;
3. Bernstein’s biographer, Humphrey Burton;
4. Journalist, Wolfgang Stähr;
5. Numerous photographs and facsimiles from the archives of Deutsche Grammophon and the Bernstein Estate
Now, as for all the glorious music contained within this simply divine box-set, well, obviously I can't go into detail about it all, but suffice to say a few of my own stand out favorite moments (and ones that are the usual go-to works) are as follows:
Among his now infamous CD1-15 BEETHOVEN cycle, the mighty Ninth Symphony is one that always grabs my attention. It was originally recorded on the 16 track 2" tape, with much more data stored, sure, but in the finale, the vocal of the four soloists is much better presented here in this digitized CD box-set, compared with recordings from the past.
This was one of the last important recordings of the analogue era for Bernstein. Indeed, when he turned to Brahms with the Wienerphilharmoniker they were recorded digitally.
Beethoven's symphonies stand apart from the rest of his works (in my humble opinion) not because everything else he wrote was second-rate, but because his symphonies are so good. And these recordings under Bernstein's baton do a great job of capturing the emotional power of Beethoven that make his symphonies so famous and unequaled.
As for the whole CD33-39 BRAHMS section, well, here is the most convincing presentation of Brahms' symphonies that I have ever experienced. There is no explanation for a gift like Leonard Bernstein, a true legend and one of the towering conductors/composers of the 20th century ... and a great Brahms conductor!
His brilliance and incandescence are revelatory in these Brahms performances. His view of a thorough-going romantic Brahms expressing his passionate control of an inner rage in classical form is convincing. He and this great Vienna orchestra give a consistent statement of it.
And, of course, Bernstein's introductory comments are without peer. Nobody should miss those! He reveals his conductorial approach in each of these symphonies. He achieves it with passion and poetry. His Brahms sings.
The CD41-43 COPLAND phase here showcases the fact that there's just no question that Leonard Bernstein was the greatest champion of Copland's music; and helped gain the composer even more recognition through all of the incredible recordings he made both on Columbia and Deutsche Grammophon.
These particular recordings, which, as long as I can remember, has remained in the catalog for years, is the perfect introduction to Copland's "Populist" period. Those wide-open vistas, lonely melodies, raucous Western rhythms are all captured with an irresistible charm, but also power under Bernstein.
"Appalachian Spring" is perhaps Copland's most well-known work. It was a ballet written for Martha Graham and it depicts a 19th Century farm land in Pennsylvania. It makes use of a Shaker tune titled "Simple Gifts," which Copland would incorporate into his song cycle "Old American Songs".
On CD45-46 DVORAK we get wrapped up snug in Symphony No. 9, a mighty fine presentation of The New World Symphony by an outstanding conductor and orchestra. In truth, almost every time Leonard Bernstein takes the podium, I hear a truly compact and strongly authentic performance.
As an interesting side note, musicologists are also quick to point out that The New World Symphony is clearly built upon a framework of traditional Hungarian musical artistry. While this is undoubtedly true, this symphony still manifests something that is genuinely American and the monumental kudos and acclaim bestowed upon Dvorák by Americans following the early performances clearly validated this actuality.
Within CD50-54 HAYDN: Symphonies we get to experience what all the fuss was, back upon their original release. You see, although some purists might object that these performances from 1958-1970 were not on original, period instruments, there is much to enjoy for the modern listener.
These are not "prim and proper" Haydn performances. They pulse with vitality and excitement. There are pensive, lyrical slow movements; musical balance that highlights orchestral counterpoint; and a forward propulsion in some of the fast movements that is full of finger-snapping fun. What a pleasure to re-discover these Haydn symphonies with fresh ears here in this brilliant box-set.
However, my own personal go-to favorite of Leonard Bernstein's works would have to be found here on CD59-77 MAHLER: Symphonies Nos. 1 – 10, for they are a truly excellent introduction to Gustav Mahler's masterpieces.
Excellent orchestra, conductors, and musicians, and with Leonard Bernstein himself being famous for being a dynamo, and something of a maniac on the podium, it is perhaps unsurprising that he should find such an affinity with Mahler’s music.
It is the conductor’s restless energy that is immediately apparent in this set’s first work: right through the First Symphony’s spellbinding opening you are on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen next.
This gives way to a wonderfully exuberant allegro where minor imprecision's of ensemble and a little extraneous noise don’t matter in the context of what is going on. There is a real sense of build towards the joyous eruption of the coda. It is entirely typical of Bernstein that he wallows in the vulgarity of the second movement, including ridiculous glissandi and over-the-top winds.
The white-hot blaze of the final bars could have come from the baton of no-one else, and the whole performance is helped by wonderfully clear sound, capturing the atmosphere of the Concertgebouw beautifully.
The other most easily recommendable performance is the Fifth. There is a wonderful sense of scale to the funeral march, helped by slow speeds and a insistent snare-drum rhythm. The second movement begins with, if anything, an even more vicious attack, though it loses momentum as the music progresses.
The chorale theme, when it comes, is remarkably striking and its climax sails out over the orchestral texture. After it the rest of the movement seems to ebb away and the opening of the scherzo is less manic than one might have expected.
My last choice to experience for yourselves here would be on CD107-111 TCHAIKOVSKY: Symphonies Nos. 4, 5, 6. Simply put, this was Leonard Bernstein's last Tchaikovsky cycle. The recording of the sixth symphony is nothing less than extraordinary. Complete with large, sweeping tempos, totally unrushed with grandeur and dignity, the other works are equally "Bernstein," have no worries.
I recommend this Tchaikovsky cycle with the highest recommendation if not solely due to the reading of the sixth symphony alone. For it is out of this world. A great legacy to one of America's greatest conductors of the twentieth century, now encompassed within this 121 CD box-set, Leonard Bernstein - Complete Recordings On Deutsche Grammophon & Decca is an AMAZING box-set and deserves to be in any self-respecting collector/lover of all-things both Deutsche Grammophon / Decca and the man himself, the great Leonard Bernstein.
Also included within this box-set are benchmark recordings of Shostakovich’ Symphonies and Stravinsky’s Les Noces (featuring Martha Argerich and Krystian Zimerman).
Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde, recorded on Philips in 1981 – Bernstein described it as “The finest thing I have ever done” and Karl Böhm had this to say when he visited Bernstein during rehearsals: “For the first time, someone dares to perform this music as Wagner wrote it.”
The American Decca Recordings for which Bernstein provided lucid, engaging explanations of such iconic works as: Beethoven’s “Erocia”, Schumann’s Second, Dvořák’s “New World”, Brahms’s Fourth and Tchaikovsky’s “Pathétique” in recordings made in 1953 / 1956 are also part and parcel of this delightful box-set.
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