A Bernstein Masterpiece Deserves More Hearings

This is a spectacular recording of an unjustly lesser known Bernstein masterpiece. It doesn’t have the familiar Broadway inflections found in much of his work but it is a solidly serious symphony/concerto which demonstrates an aspect of the composer’s wide range of compositional ability.

Bernstein wrote only three symphonies (the third and last written in 1963 in response to the assassination of John F. Kennedy) but all deserve attention and this may very well be the best of the three. Is is the only one without a vocal part.

In many ways it is similar to his “Plato’s Symposium” (1945) in that it has an obligato solo part but is not identified as a Concerto. That said, the solo part is substantial and the fine pianist Krystian Zimmerman needed to come to terms with this spectacular work. It is indeed not a Concerto. The piano solo is more like a character in dialogue with the instruments of the orchestra, an analogy for the events of Auden’s Pulitzer Prize winning long poem of 1947 from which it gets its title. It was dedicated to Bernstein’s teacher Serge Koussevitsky who conducted the premiere with the composer at the piano.

Simon Rattle clearly has a grasp of Bernstein’s early symphonic style (he also gets jazz and later Bernstein more readily than most European conductors. I must admit only a passing familiarity with this work but this recording has definitely rekindled my interest and it will likely have that effect on subsequent listeners.

Beautiful performance and recording. Seek this one out. You won’t be disappointed.


6 comments on “A Bernstein Masterpiece Deserves More Hearings

  1. […] Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety in a new recording […]


  2. bdoggett55 says:

    My apologies for the posting error. PLEASE DELETE my second comment. I had the wrong You Tube URL

    LISTEN to this FABULOUS recording of the opening movement of the 3rd Symphony never again duplicated in power and sound There is a connection in THEME between The Age of Anxiety and The Cold War Atomic Bomb Crisis referencing Kaddish Symphony


  3. bdoggett55 says:

    Regarding Bernstein’s Symphony#3 Kaddish, view this digital transfer of its premiere recording from the 1960s with the composer’s wife as Narrator. THIS RECORDING has never been duplicated in impact by the newer recordings. FABULOUS WORK in spectacular early Stereo Sound along with The Second Symphony, “The Age of Anxiety” reviewed here


  4. Bill Doggett says:

    A great work…..but more performed than his emotonally riveting Symphony#3, Kaddish dedicated to the memory of John F Kennedy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s