Search - Leonard Bernstein, Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky :: Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms / Poulenc: Gloria / Bernstein: Chichester Psalms

Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms / Poulenc: Gloria / Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Leonard Bernstein, Francis Poulenc, Igor Stravinsky
Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms / Poulenc: Gloria / Bernstein: Chichester Psalms
Genre: Classical
 

      
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CD Reviews

A BERNSTEIN "DESERT ISLAND DISC" ! !
G. Engler | The Frigid Northeast | 05/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Why have there been no reviews for this disk yet?

Who will discover it, now that it has been discontinued by Sony?

I discovered these performances on their Columbia vinyl incarnations. The Stravinsky/Poulenc pairing was found on an LP in a beautiful "stained glass" design incorporating their titles - perhaps the non-descript CD booklet from the Bernstein Masterworks series implied non-descript, unimportnat performances to most folks. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Bernstein conducts the Stravinsky choral masterwork with passion and conviction. The LSO and English Bath Festival Chorus sing powerfully, and with rhythmic force in the Symphony of Psalms. It's true that Bernstein's LSO performance/remake of Sacre pales in comparison to his 1959 keystone performance with the NYP, but the Symphony of Pslams provides the conductor and orchestra with a good fit.

Poulenc's Gloria is simply gorgeous. A work that deserves to be far better known than it is, the Gloria receives a lovingly beautiful performance. Judith Blegen sounds marvelous, and the Westminster Choir sing admirably. Needless to say, the NYP play their hearts out for their conductor laureate.

Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, written for the Cathedral of Chichester in 1965, has both its admirers and detractors. Count me in the former category. Few works convey Bernstein's credo in so sublime - and musically succinct - a manner. Certainly not his prolix symphonies. Pure Bernstein in its combination of lyricism and rhythm, I would argue that the Bernstein's setting pf Psalm 23 (The Lord is my shepherd) is one of his supreme achievements. In my mind, the boy alto (John Bogart - pure in voice and heart) represents the idealistic, romantic, and spiritual young composer whose belief was continually challenged by the questions posed by the truculent "Why do nations rage" chorus that shatters the youth's innocence and calm. The many facets of Bernstein's spirituality was never again captured as brilliantly as it was in this brief composition. Bernstein was a believer, a pacifist, a philistine, a chic limousine Liberal and observant Jew all rolled up into one magnificent artist.

The remastered sound - particularly for the 1960s Chichester Psalms - is wonderful - full bodied with as good a soundstage as captured by CBS in the 1970s - which means good, though not first rate.

The passion and musical intelligence of this disc makes it one of my desert island discs. Not merely a "Bernstein desert island" disc - but one of the few I would grab if the house was on fire. Somehow it captures Bernstein the conductor as few others have.

Grab it before it disappears altogether into the MP3 file netherworld."