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Leonard Bernstein

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Album Review

For its album of music composed by Leonard Bernstein, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) employs five much-heard concert works drawn from Bernstein's stage and film works: the overture from the Broadway musical Candide; the three dance variations from the ballet Fancy Free; the symphonic dances adapted from the Broadway musical West Side Story; the three dance episodes from the Broadway musical On the Town; and the symphonic suite based on the score of the film On the Waterfront. Bernstein's eclectic music requires a strong sense of dynamic range and rhythmic complexity, and under the baton of Carl Davis, the RPO does an adequate but not stellar job. Its reading of the "Cha-Cha: Andantino con Grazia" dance from West Side Story, for example, is tentative when it should be crisp, and the playing should have more bite throughout. On the other hand, the orchestra is better when it hits more lyrical sections, such as the "Finale: Adagio" from West Side Story. On the whole, this is not one of the more inspiring recordings of some of Bernstein's most popular concert pieces, and they have been recorded many other times.

Biography

Formed: 1946 in England

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Indelibly linked to its founder, Sir Thomas Beecham, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) is considered one of the four major orchestras based in London. Established in 1946 in connection with the Royal Philharmonic Society, the orchestra's title was directly approved by King George VI. Although it has often had to fight for its survival, the RPO remains one of the busiest ensembles in Great Britain. The orchestra annually offers a set of concert series in three London venues (Royal Festival Hall,...
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Leonard Bernstein, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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