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Leonard Bernstein - 10 Album Classics

Leonard Bernstein - 10 Album Classics

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Sony Classical is pleased to present a special edition of Leonard Bernstein’s American Columbia recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the conductor-composer’s most celebrated interpretations and works are collected here on these carefully chosen 10 original albums on 11 CDs. 

There is, of course, the still-astonishing album that launched Leonard Bernstein’s international reputation as the most dynamic and charismatic conductor of his era, Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring recorded in January 1958 – two months after his appointment as the youngest music director in the New York Philharmonic’s history. Reviewing a 2013 reissue, declared: “It has an excitement, spontaneity, and primal fury that no other version quite matches.” 

The Bernstein recording that launched the “Mahler Renaissance” in the 1960s is also here: his Third Symphony with the New York Philharmonic, which has arguably never been surpassed. And while we’re talking about Third Symphonies, Bernstein’s “Eroica” still sounds “wonderfully vibrant” (Gramophone) a half century after its first release. There is also his reading of Dvořák’s most popular symphony – “There’s no such thing as a ‘definitive’ recording [of the “New World”], but if there were, this one would come close to that imagined ideal” (ClassicsToday) – and two from Haydn’s magnificent “Paris” set: “It’s debatable whether there have been better performances” (ClassicalNet).  

Bernstein himself conducts and plays Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (“The one indispensable recording of this familiar work, paired with an equally fine American in Paris” – New York Times). Bernstein the pianist also accompanies Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, at the peak of his matchless career, in an acclaimed album of Mahler lieder. The ballets Rodeo and Billy the Kid by Bernstein’s mentor and friend Aaron Copland are included: “Even the composer couldn't make [them] dance the way Bernstein does” (New York Times).  

Bernstein the composer is also generously represented. The original Broadway cast recording of Candide from 1956 is included, as is the definitive version of his most famous work: the original Broadway cast recording of West Side Story from 1957. 

The re-masterings in this new collection are the best ever issued of these thrilling recordings by one of the last century’s greatest musicians, selected from the Grammy® award-winning Leonard Bernstein – The Composer and the Leonard Bernstein – Remastered editions. Sony Classical’s new 11-CD Leonard Bernstein box set is the perfect introduction to the work of this American genius.

Past praise of previously released recordings included in this set:

Mahler: Symphony No. 3 / Lipton, Bernstein, NYP

This was the finest performance of Mahler’s Third when it was first issued back in 1962, and in some ways it has never been surpassed. Bernstein catches the riotous vulgarity of the first movement march music like no other conductor–not even his own digital remake reaches the level of sheer abandon he whips up here, and he also has the best of all fifth movements (bright and cheery, with dazzlingly prominent percussion).

-- (10/10; David Hurwitz)

Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 / Bernstein, NYP

There’s no such thing as a “definitive” recording, but if there were, this one would come close to that imagined ideal. Its special qualities haven’t dimmed a bit in decades since it was recorded, and every interpretive decision comes across with the inevitability of fate itself. First, you get the first-movement exposition repeat (very unusual for its time), then there’s the very slow (but still very flowing) Largo, gorgeously played and far from the trudge-fest that Bernstein would make of for DG. The scherzo goes like the wind, the fastest ever, and the finale offers simply the last word in excitement. If you don’t own this performance in some form, then you don’t know the “New World”.

-- (10/10; David Hurwitz)

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 11
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Sony Masterworks SRM 2
    • UPC/Barcode: 196587913427
    • Item Number: 19658791342