The Essential Leonard Ber

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    The Essential Leonard Ber Sony Classical
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Review

Review Text Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was not only a brilliant conductor -- having served with the New York Philharmonic for several decades beginning in 1943 -- but was also recognized as one of the 20th century's most lauded composers. In that respect, few if any have contributed as significantly to classical music in the context of the American experience. It could likewise be contended that his contributions to the Broadway stage solidified the formerly intransigent chasm existing between symphonic and popular music. In honor of what would have been Bernstein's 85th birthday, Sony Music created a pair of mid-priced sets celebrating the maestro's accomplishments. A Total Embrace: The Composer (2003) offers more than three and a half hours of highlights spanning nearly a quarter-century. "The Pirate Song," featuring actor Boris Karloff and "the Pirates," is the earliest entry, dating back to the original Broadway cast recording of Peter Pan from 1950. The most recent inclusion is "The Community" from 1974's Facsimile, a "Choreographic Essay for Orchestra. The contents are divided by either "Concert Works" or "Theater Works," with the latter spread over two-thirds of the anthology. No compilation of Bernstein would be complete without copious excerpts from Candide (1956), West Side Story (1957), On the Town (1958), and Wonderful Town (1958). There is equal time devoted to his sacred works, such as the extremely controversial Mass theater piece for singers, players, and dancers, penned specifically for the opening ceremony of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., as well as "Kaddish" Symphony No. 3, which is parenthetically dedicated "To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy." One minor drawback is the lack of detail in the somewhat skimpy liner booklet. This is especially unfortunate as the primary audience for both this and the companion installment, A Total Embrace: The Conductor, is presumed to consist of novices, who would use these collections as seminal entrées into Bernstein's voluminous catalog. However, that should not discourage curious parties from adding either package to their libraries. ~ Lindsay Planer

Track Listing

CD: 1

  1. 1. I. Psalm 108 (verse 2) & Psalm 100 (complete) - 4:34
  2. 2. II. Psalm 23 (complete) & Psalm 2 (verses 1-4) - 6:35
  3. 3. III. Psalm 131 (complete) & Psalm 133 (verse 1) - 9:14
  1. 4. III. Lamentation - 11:23
  1. 5. IV. Agathon (Adagio) - 8:40
  1. 6. b. The Masque: Extremely Fast - 5:36
  2. 7. c. The Epilogue: Adagio; Andante; Con Moto - 8:10
  1. 8. IV. "A Big Indian and a Little Indian" Con Brio - 1:46
  1. 9. IV. "Civet a Toute Vitesse (Rabbit at Top Speed)" - 1:19
  1. 10. I. Prelude for the Brass - 2:49
  2. 11. II. Fugue for the Saxes - 2:47
  3. 12. III. Riffs for Everyone - 4:14
  1. 13. I. Invocation, Kaddish 1 - 8:28
  1. 14. Love Theme - 6:39

CD: 2

  1. 15. Opening: "New York, New York" - 11:29
  2. 16. "Lonely Town"/Dance: Lonely Town - 7:48
  3. 17. Dance: Times Square - 4:02
  4. 18. "Some Other Time" - 4:22
  5. 19. Dance: The Real Coney Island - 6:31
  1. 20. I. Enter Three Sailors - 3:53
  2. 21. IV. Pas de deux - 3:23
  3. 22. VII. Finale - 5:39
  1. 23. "The Pirate Song" - 3:31
  1. 24. "Ohio" - 3:57
  2. 25. " A Little Bit in Love (Never Felt This Way Before)" - 2:40
  3. 26. " A Quiet Girl" - 2:25
  4. 27. "Conga!" - 3:27
  5. 28. "Wrong Note Rag" - 3:31
  1. 29. Overture - 4:04
  2. 30. "Best of All Possible Worlds" - 3:26
  3. 31. Mazurka - 2:38
  4. 32. "Glitter and Be Gay" - 6:43
  5. 33. "Make Our Garden Grow" - 4:15

CD: 3

  1. 34. Prologue - 4:55
  2. 35. The Dance at the Gym - 3:03
  3. 36. "Maria" - 3:40
  4. 37. "Tonight" - 4:55
  5. 38. "America" - 5:35
  6. 39. "Cool" - 4:01
  7. 40. "Somewhere" (Ballet) - 8:37
  1. 41. Part III: "The Community" - 5:15
  1. 42. Part II: Allegretto - 9:59
  1. 43. Scene III/IIIa: "I was standing in a garden/Then desire took hold of me" - 7:25
  1. 44. I. Devotions before Mass - Hymn and Psalm: "A Simple Song" - 5:43
  2. 45. V. Meditation No. 1 - 5:09
  3. 46. VI. Gloria - 7:48
  4. 47. XIV. Sanctus: "Holy! Holy! Holy!" - 5:24
  5. 48. XVII Pax: Communion - Final Hymn (excerpt) - 3:15

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