Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bernstein - Symphony No3 'Kaddish' - Chichester Psalms - Mattila, Menuhin, Sado






  • Release Date: April 29, 2008
  • Label: Erato
  • Number of discs: 1 
  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein
  • Performer: Mattila, Menuhin, Sado
  • cd info/ buy

Kaddish is generally considered the ugly duckling among Leonard Bernstein's three symphonies. The composer clothes the Jewish prayer for the dead with an ambitious tarp of atonality, leapfrogging rhythms, soaring lyricism, rugged Coplandesque motives, ingenuous choral counterpoint, and discarded scraps from West Side Story's bountiful table. What binds this hybrid concoctionLeonard Bernstein in 1971. together is a horrid, treacley narration, penned by the composer, that "leaves every immortal cliche intact," to quote Lenny's immortal words. The measured dignity with which Yehudi Menuhin intones this doggerel is a far cry from Felicia Montealegre's histrionic ranting in the composer-led premiere recording. Likewise, soprano Karita Mattila's sweet-toned vocalism puts the vinegary Jennie Tourel in the shade, but doesn't match Montserrat Caballé's delicate individuality in Bernstein's Deutsche Grammophon remake. Yutaka Sado's incisive conducting, though, yields nothing to Bernstein's more dynamically charged leadership, here and in the Chichester Psalms. The latter plays half the length of Kaddish, yet says a thousand times more. Full texts and translations are included.--Jed Distler



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