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.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Leonard Bernstein - On The Town, Fancy Free, On The Waterfront Suites (1992)


A collection of previous recordings of Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic.

If you want a definitive interpretation, listen to a composer conduct his own works.

Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town" (1947) recorded at Lincoln Center, June 18, 1963. Symphonic music derived from the music composed for his 1944 Broadway musical.  Of the three movements, the third is most enjoyable, although this set is brief with the 3 dances lasting only a total of 10 minutes.

"Fancy Free" Ballet (1944), recorded at Lincoln Center, June 11, 1963. An appropriate pairing with "On the Town" as this ballet was so successful that Jerome Robbins thought it could be turned into a Broadway musical.  Of the 7 movements to this 25 minute ballet, I like III and V.

Symphonic Suite from the Film "On the Waterfront" (1955), recorded at Manhattan Center, May 16, 1960.  Using music he wrote for the 1954 Academy Award winning film (Bernstein's only original film score), Bernstein created this 20 minute symphonic suite.  The most aggressive, passionate, and enjoyable music on this CD.  The movie scoring process frustrated Bernstein to no end which is probably why he just did it once.  But this suite makes you wish he had done more.

Can we talk about the packaging?  In the early '90s, Sony, which had recently purchased Columbia and the CBS Masterworks recordings, decided to re-release Bernstein's NY Philharmonic recordings. Inexplicably, Prince Charles, who has no real connection to either Bernstein or the NY Phil (maybe the Royal Family owns a piece of Sony?), was selected to paint the covers and they were decreed to be "Royal Editions."  Wha?!?  A money-grubbing idea so ludicrous I can't begin to explain, so I'll let Sony try:


This disc was #15 of the 100 Royal Edition items mentioned above. Not sure what the "high definition sound" process entails, but I will admit this compilation sounds better than a 1960 recording ought to.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None.

Previously revisited for the blog:
Leonard Bernstein's New York
Leonard Bernstein Conducts West Side Story
Chichester Psalms, Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2
New York Philharmonic Debut
On The Town - Studio Cast Recording

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