LEONARD BERNSTEIN - HISTORIC RECORDINGS, 1941-1961)
WEST HILL RADIO ARCHIVES WHRA 6048 (12 disks) TT: 12:31:22

CD 1: 67:05. SCHUMANN: Symphony No. 2 in C, (23 March 1946, BSO in SHB); SHOSTAKOVICH: Symph. No. 7 in C (rehearsal) (22 Dec. 1948, BSO in SHB)
CD 2: 69:35. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symph. No. 7 in C, (22 Dec. 1948, BSO in SHB)
CD 3: 78:44. MAHLER: Symph. No. 2 (rehearsal) (21 Nov. 1949, BSO in SHB); MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 15, K. 450 (rehearsal)(Bernstein, p.) (21 Nov. 1949, BSO in SHB); MESSIAEN: Turangalîla-Symphonie (rehearsal) (28 Nov. 1949, BSO in SHB)
CD 4: 79:53. MAHLER:: Symphony. No. 2 “Resurrection,” Adele Addison, Soprano; Nan Merriman, Mezzo-Soprano, (25 Nov. 1949, BSO in SHB)
CD 5: 73:16. RAVEL: Piano Concerto. in G (rehearsa) (Bernstein, p.) (5 Dec. 1949, BSO in SHB); COPLAND: Preamble for a Solemn Occasion. Laurence Olivier, Narrator [premiere] (10 Dec. 1949, BSO in CH),SHOSTAKOVICH-LANGENDOEN:United Nations on the March ( BSO in CH, 10 Dec. 1949, BSO in CH); RAVEL: Piano Concerto (Bernstein, p.) (10 Dec. 1949, BSO in CH), BEETHOVEN: Symphony No. 9 in D minor, “Choral”: Finale excerpt. with Collegiate Chorale & Irma Gonzales, Sop., Nan Merriman; MS., Raoul Jobin, Ten., Nicola Moscona, Bass, (10 Dec. 1949, BSO in CH);
CD 6: 64:49. BARTÓK: Music for Strings, Percussion & Celesta; BEETHOVEN: Piano Con. No. 1 in C, Op.15 (Bernstein, p.). (19 Feb. 1950, NYPSO in CH.);
CD 7: 66:07.BERNSTEIN: Symphony. No. 2, The Age of Anxiety (Lukas Foss, p.) (26 Feb. 1950, NYPSO in CH); STRAVINSKY: The Rite of Spring, (18 Feb. 1951, NYPSO in CH)
CD 8: 67:02. WEILL: Three-Penny Opera [Blitzstein version] Narrator: Marc Blitzstein; Jenny: Lotte Lenya; Polly: Joe Sullivan; Macheath: David Brooks; (14 June, 1952 at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA) [world premiere]
CD 9: 52:36. COPLAND: Short Symphony, “Symphony No. 2,” (27 Jan. 1957, NYPSO in CH); HARRIS: American Creed, (7 Feb. 1959, NYPSO in CH); PISTON: Concerto for Orchestra, (Rec. 15 Feb. 1959, NYPSO in CH); FINE: Serious Song, (19 Apr. 1959, NYPSO in CH.)
CD 10: 62:57. SHOSTAKOVICH: Symph. No. 5 (rehearsal); COPLAND: Billy the Kid (recording session) (20 Oct. 1959, NYPSO in SHB)
CD 11: 69:18. CHÁVEZ: Symph. No. 4 “Sinfonia Romántica,” MAHLER: Songs: Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft; Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen; Das irdische Leben; Um Mitternacht; Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano (MS 8 February 1960, NYPSO in CH), DIAMOND: Symphony No. 8, (9 October 1961 NYPSO in CH);
CD 12: [texts]. Notes: WHRA catalog. Abbreviations: BSO = Boston Symphony Orchestra, NYPSO = New York Philharmonic, SHB = Symphony Hall, Boston, CH = Carnegie Hall, New York. Audio restoration: Lani Spahr. Notes: Nigel Simeone. Made and printed in the EU. Not available in the USA. Total Time: 12:31:22.
This set includes a 12-page booklet listing all performances; for more detailed information and program notes, check the pdf files included on CD 12.

This is a fabulous set, a treasure for collectors. Of particular interest is inclusion of many works that Bernstein, one of the most-recorded of all conductors, never recorded commercially:

Chávez: Symphony No. 4
Copland: Short Sym;phony/Preamble
Diamond: Symphony No. 8
Fine: Serious Songs
Harris: American Creed
Messiaen: Turangalila (rehearsal)
Piston: Concerto for Orchestra
Shostakovich: United Nations March
Weill: Three-Penny Opera

It is fascinating to hear all of the rehearsals in which Bernstein's respect for members of the orchestras is always apparent. In these live performances we often hear an excitement more intense than in Bernstein's commercial recordings. A case in point is The Rite of Spring, a favorite of the conductor throughout his career. His first was with the New York Philharmonic in 1958, his second in 1972 with the London Symphony, his third in 1982 with the Israel Philharmonic. This new set offers a Carnegie Hall performance from February 1951, electrifying indeed!

CD12 contains a pdf file with extensive notes on the recordings and circumstances thereof including many perceptive reviews of live performances. This is written by Nigel Simeone, author of Leonard Bernstein: West Side Story, and editor of The Bernstein Letters. Many photos are included, along with actual programs in some cases. This is a remarkable glimpse of the musical scenes in both New York and Boston at the time. Audio restoration master Lani Spahr was in charge of this marvelous set, with assistance from many other experts: Nate Brown, David Callahan, Steve Hillyer, Erik Johnson, Ward Marston, Karl Miller, Gene Pollioni, Steve Reveyoso and Nigel Simeone—thank you, all! We can be certain audio is as good as it could be, and in many instances it is excellent. This important set is available at a very reasonable price from WEST HILL RADIO ARCHIVES

 

R.E.B. (Septembr 2013)