Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bernstein - Chichester Psalms, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2 (1978)


I have a fascination with Bernstein. I've read his books, also read many of the biographies, listened to much of his music and watched the videos. However, I had never heard Chichester Psalms, so I recently bought this CD. I always search out recordings where Bernstein conducts his own work. Here he is in front of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The strings get a little shrill at times, but the brass sound fantastic.

Tracks: In Chichester Psalms (written in 1965), I like the first movement and the finale. He really had a thing for mixed meter.

Symphony No. 1 "Jeremiah" (written in 1942). This is a great programmatic piece. The second movement may be some of his best orchestral work. It's so good that the third movement (with mezzo-soprano soloist) is kind of a letdown by comparison.

Symphony No. 2 "The Age of Anxiety" (written 1947-49). Really more of a piano concerto, but I guess when you write it, you can title it anything you like. I like the mainly open voicing in the piano and all the variations are interesting. The second part of the piece isn't nearly as interesting to me, although the ragtime section is entertaining. I suppose I should read Auden's poem and try to line it up with the music. Next time.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None. I've never heard any of these pieces performed live by an orchestra.

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