Bernstein: West Side Story
San Francisco Symphony & Michael Tilson Thomas
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Under the magnetic leadership of Michael Tilson Thomas, the GRAMMY®-winning San Francisco Symphony offers an electrifying tour of Leonard Bernstein’s swaggering, staggeringly beautiful 1957 classic. The live recording captures the first-ever concert performances of Bernstein’s complete score. While there’s fire and intensity in the jagged rhythms and bold dissonance, the recording’s strength lies in its balance—Thomas shrewdly undersells all but the grandest moments and rising soprano Julia Bullock delivers “Somewhere” with languid grace. Other cherished selections, like “I Feel Pretty” and “Maria,” float by with a breezy vivacity and the cast—led by an impressive Cheyenne Jackson (Glee, 30 Rock)—is uniformly strong. Beyond its theatrical trappings, the symphony’s spirited performance underscores the enduring sophistication and brilliance of Bernstein’s midcentury masterpiece. An accompanying iTunes LP offers historical insights, lyrics, interviews with Thomas, and more.
A Worthy Follow-Up to the Original
I've been waiting for this for a while... a dynamic complete recording of one of my three favorite Broadway scores. While no recording will ever surpass the 1957 Original Broadway Cast Album, this new live concert recording is head and shoulders above Bernstein's own studio recording for Deutsche Grammophon. John Yap's recording of the Leicester Haymarket production on TER/JAY was a valiant try, but is marred by some British sounding accents and a less than stellar "Maria." The version heard on the NAXOS label via their American Classics series, has much to recommend it as well, but despite some rich orchestral playing, it is neither complete, nor has a top notch cast. So now comes this concert from Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, and it is everything Bernstein's recording should have been, but wasn't. Cheyenne Jackson and Alexandra Silber make the most persuasive Tony and Maria since Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence... and Silber sings the role better than Lawrence to boot! While I'm not normally a fan of live recordings, it should be noted that the audience applause/reactions are not present here (a good thing as far as I'm concerned), and perhaps capturing a live performance like this enables a cast -- who otherwise are not immersed in their roles the way a cast preparing for an open-ended complete run would be -- to give a dramtically persuasive reading.
Can't wait for this album to come out!! :D
Wow! :D This is one of the best albums I've seen of West Side Story yet!! It has all the songs, almost all of the orchestral pieces that are played, even it has one scene change orchestral piece before the Taunting Scene in Act 2!! That is so awesome!! Thank you so much!! Can't wait for it to come out!! :D
The performance you dream of
Although recorded in concert, it's a theatrical performance driven by one of the world's great ochestras and conducor Michael Tilson Thomas. Cheyenne Jackson is the best Tony on record and Alexandra Silber is a real find as Maria--a gorgeous voice and a vibrant actress. The definitive recording of this score!
Formed: 1911 in San Francisco , CA
Years Active: '10s, '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s
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- West Side Story