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20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Leonard Bernstein

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Album Review

Universal extends its series of discount-priced "best of" compilations with the unwieldy name "20th Century Masters/The Millennium Collection" to the quasi-classical realm with this Leonard Bernstein entry, which is simultaneously generous and skimpy. Discs in the series usually do not run as long as 68 minutes, so this one provides more music for the money than most. In doing so, however, it draws on only five pieces (despite the division into 22 tracks): the four-and-a-half-minute overture from the 1956 Broadway musical Candide; the 23-minute "Symphonic Dances From West Side Story" Bernstein crafted from his 1957 Broadway musical score in 1961; the ten-and-a-half-minute "Three Dance Episodes From On the Town" Bernstein drew from his 1944 Broadway musical score in 1946; the eight-minute "Preludes, Fugues and Riffs" from 1955, accurately described by annotator and compilation producer Joseph S. Szurly as "essentially a small concerto for clarinet [played by Peter Schmidl] and jazz ensemble"; and the 20-and-a-half-minute "Symphonic Suite From On the Waterfront" adapted by Bernstein from his 1954 film score. No recording dates are provided from these tracks, though coming from the Deutsche Grammophon archives, they must have been recorded late in the composer's career, in the 1970s or '80s. Conducted by Bernstein, they were played by the London Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic. If not actually the best of Bernstein, they represent orchestral arrangements of some of his best-known music as a composer.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely AMAZING!!

I adore this overture. My dance studio has choreography to this music and it is my favorite piece.


Born: August 25, 1918 in Lawrence, MA

Genre: Classical

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

No figure in 20th century American classical music had as prominent or controversial a career — or did more to sell classical music to the general public as something genuinely exciting, and worth getting into a sweat over — than Leonard Bernstein. For more than 30 years, from his assumption of the post of Music Director of the New York Philharmonic in 1958 until the final concerts that he conducted in obviously failing health near the end of his life in 1990, he was the most prominent...
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