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Title - 'Bernstein, Horne: Bizet: Carmen' [3CD + Blu-ray]
Artist - Leonard Bernstein

Now released on June 29th, 2018 via Deutsche Grammophon, Leonard Bernstein's triumphant version of Bizet's Carmen is now available in a deluxe 3CD + Blu-ray audio set.

Released as part of the Bernstein 100th Anniversary, Bernstein, Horne: Bizet: Carmen is a seminal recording in 24-bit Surround Sound that features Marilyn Horne in the title role and includes the libretto and images from the recording sessions; and the live performance at the Metropolitan Opera House.

And, 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.

CD 1:
1. Carmen: Prelude
2. Carmen: Act 1: Introduction (Soldats, Morales, Micaela)
3. Carmen: Act 1: March And Chorus Of Urchins (Morales, Choeur Des Gamins, Zuniga, Don Jose)
4. Carmen: Act 1: Dialogue (Zuniga, Don Jose)
5. Carmen: Act 1: Choeur Et Scene (Don Jose, Jeunes Gens, Soldats, Cigarieres)
6. Carmen: Act 1: Dialogue (Soldats, Jeunes Gens, Cigarieres, Carmen)
7. Carmen: Act 1: Havanaise (Carmen, Choeur)
8. Carmen: Act 1: Scene (Jeunes Gens, Cigarieres)
9. Carmen: Act 1: Dialogue, Duet (Micaela, Don Jose)
10. Carmen: Act 1: Dialogue (Don Jose, Micaela)
11. Carmen: Act 1: Choeur (CIgarieres, Zuniga, Soldats)
12. Carmen: Act 1: Chanson Et M lodrame (Carmen, Zuniga, Choeur, Don Jose)
13. Carmen: Act 1: Chanson And Duet (La Guedille) (Carmen, Don Jose)
14. Carmen: Act 1: Finale (Don Jose, Zuniga, Carmen)

CD 2:
1. Carmen: Entracte
2. Carmen: Act 2: Chanson (Gypsy Dance) (Carmen, Frasquita, Mercedes)
3. Carmen: Act 2: Dialogue (Pastia, Zuniga, Mercedes, Carmen)
4. Carmen: Act 2: Choeur Et Ensemble (Choeur, Zuniga, Mercedes, Frasquita, Pastia)
5. Carmen: Act 2: Couplet (Toreador Song) (Escamillo, Choeur, Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen)
6. Carmen: Act 2: Dialogue (Escamillo, Choeur, Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen)
7. Carmen: Act 2: Chorus And Dialogue (Choeur)
8. Carmen: Act 2: Dialogue (Frasquita, Dancaire, Remendado, Mercedes)
9. Carmen: Act 2: Quintette (Dancaire, Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen, Remendado)
10. Carmen: Act 2: Dialogue And Chanson (Dancaire, Remendado, Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen)
11. Carmen: Act 2: Duo (Carmen, Don Jose)
12. Carmen: Act 2: Air (Flower song) (Don Jose)
13. Carmen: Act 2: Duo ( L -bas) (Carmen, Don Jose)
14. Carmen: Act 2: Finale (Zuniga, Don Jose, Carmen, Dancaire, Remendado, Choeur)

CD 3:
1. Carmen: Entr'acte
2. Carmen: Act 3: Introduction (Smugglers' Chorus) (Contrebandiers, Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen, Don Jose, Cancaire, Remendado)
3. Carmen: Act 3: Dialogue (Don Jose, Carmen)
4. Carmen: Act 3: Trio (Card scene) (Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen)
5. Carmen: Act 3: Solo (Card scene) (Carmen)
6. Carmen: Act 3: Trio (Card scene) (Frasquita, Mercedes,Carmen)
7. Carmen: Act 3: Dialogue (Dancaire, Carmen, Remendado, Frasquita, Mercedes, Don Jose)
8. Carmen: Act 3: Morceau D'Ensemble (Frasquita, Mercedes, Carmen, Bohemiennes)
9. Carmen: Act 3: Air (Micaela's Prayer) (Micaela)
10. Carmen: Act 3: Duo (Escamillo, Don Jose)
11. Carmen: Act 3: Finale, Dialogue (Carmen, Escamillo, Dancaire, Don Jose, Choeur, Micaela)
12. Carmen: Act 3: Finale, Conclusion (Micaela, Carmen, Don Jose, Choeur, Escamillo)
13. Carmen: Entr'acte
14. Carmen: Act 4 : Choeur
15. Carmen: Act 4 : Choeur (Entrance Of Toreros)
16. Carmen: Act 4 : Interlude (Escamillo, Carmen, Choeur)
17. Carmen: Act 4 : Choeur (Frasquita, Carmen, Mercedes)
18. Carmen: Act 4 : Duo Finale (Carmen, Don Jose, Choeur)

Although this performance took place 40 years ago, the sound quality is outstanding. Leonard Bernstein conducted this performance with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. I have always enjoyed the manner in which Bernstein interprets music. He brings music to life.

Music is basically an emotional experience. Marilyn Horne was one of our finest opera sopranos. She performs the role of Carmen that clearly defines the character of Carmen. This recording is enjoyable, and worth listening to, as I hope you all know well before reading this here today.

Again, Horne delivers a magnificent Carmen, although her style is occasionally a bit alarming. As for her sounding "mad" in the last scene (yes, we've all heard the rants over the years), she indeed does sound like she's gone crazy; which is thoroughly appropriate considering the circumstances!

The insanity does not get out of control, though, until the line "cette bague autrefois, tu me l'avais donné; Tiens!" which is wholeheartedly wicked!

However, and playing Devil's Advocate here, the most important flaw, though, is McCracken's Don José. The Flower Song in Act II falls flat on its face when you realize that in order to achieve the diminuendo into the pianississimo "et j'étais une chose à toi!" McCracken has switched into falsetto!

This is the case in many of the quieter high passages, including moments in the Act I duet with Micaëla which are just ruined. The tempi throughout are strange, fast and slow.

Regardless, the orchestra is superb, as the MET orchestra always is, but the choir is somewhat lacking. The diction is also decidedly non-French a lot of the time, although Ms. Horne's performance is much better in that department than the rest.