Fascinating examples of Bernstein's later work
path31783 | NJ | 01/27/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Arias and Barcarolles was one of Leonard Bernstein's last compositions; in fact, he fiddled with it for much of the last years of his life. A series of loosely connected musical vignettes, it is a fascinating exploration of dark, atonal music he hinted at constantly in all of his earlier work. Fascinating it is, but i cant really say its very enjoyable to listen to. The Love Duet, a fantastically existential song, is a real gem, and Little Smary and Mr. and Mrs. Webb Say Goodnight are also wonderful pieces, made all the better by the performances of Von Stade and Hampson. However, like all atonal music, other tracks get grating, and are worth listening to only as curiosities. The A Quiet Place Suite is another matter. The opera was a late expansion of Trouble in Tahiti, one of his best early pieces; it is labored in the extreme. (Stephen Sondheim once said of this opera that Bernstein had a bad case of "important-itis.") The only passages with any distinction are the ones from the earlier work. Also, this suite is a poorly orchestrated representation of the full score. Then the symphonic dances . . . it is painfully obvious that Bernstein didnt conduct this one. The tempos are all over the map, and the miking is terrible (in the Mambo, the tam-tams overpower the brass section at certain points.) The suite in the reisuue of the original score is far better. All in all, this CD is a valuable one to have; although not very enjoyable, it is very very interesting."
The fundamental things apply as time goes by........
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 03/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Leonard Bernstein was a legend in his own time and the music world is less for his absence. But here is a chance to sample the spectrum of this 20th century wonder. From the uncommonly American sound of West Side Story (Symphonic Dances) to the gentle, brooding introspection of Arias and Barcarolles not unlike this composer's mentor Gustav Mahler, we have on one CD a taste of why Bernstein will live beyond his lifetime. Gratefully these works are performed by consummate artists: Michael Tilson Thomas, Frederica von Stade, Thomas Hampson, London Symphony Orchestra. Add this mixture of late life esoterica and prime life showmanship to your collection of Bernstein's many recordings of the symphonic literature and you'll have a glimpse of the fundamental things........"