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“LEONARD BERNSTEIN A JEWISH LEGACY” This recording features

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“LEONARD BERNSTEIN A JEWISH LEGACY” This recording features Powered By Docstoc
					                                                                   Release Date: October 21
                                                                   “LEONARD BERNSTEIN:
                                                                       A JEWISH LEGACY”
                                                                              CD# 8.559407


                        “LEONARD BERNSTEIN: A JEWISH LEGACY”


        This recording features fourteen rarely heard sacred and secular works on Jewish
themes by Leonard Bernstein that explore and reveal the composer’s inborn ties and
intense responses to his Jewish spiritual and musical roots, augmented by his lifelong
involvement with Jewish concerns. Included are solo and choral settings of liturgical and
Psalm texts in Hebrew and English; rousing Hebrew songs in the Zionist pioneering spirit;
evocative excerpts from ballet and theatrical scores, solo art songs in Hebrew and Yiddish,
and a variety of piano and instrumental works. Half of these compositions have either
never been recorded or performed in public before; several existed only in manuscript
form.
        The repertoire on this disc was chosen by Jack Gottlieb in close cooperation with
the Bernstein family. A leading scholar on Bernstein’s music, as well as his assistant at
the New York Philharmonic and editor of his books, published scores and recordings, Mr.
Gottlieb remarks in his liner notes that “The greater part of Bernstein’s output was sparked
by the interaction of his American conditioning and his Jewish heritage.” He points out that
even Bernstein’s compositions without obvious Jewish themes exhibit American sound and
rhythmic energy blended with echoes of Jewish prayer modes and Jewish symbolism.
        Highlights of the fourteen compositions on this disc include Leonard Bernstein’s
first surviving completed work, a setting of Psalm 148, – for mezzo-soprano and
piano, which was never.performed in public and is heard here in its premiere recording.
Completed in 1935 when the composer was 17, this neo-Romantic work, with its hints of
Mendelssohn and Weber, Wagner’s Tristan and Mahler, also shows the influence of the
Viennese-born synagogue music director of Bernstein’s youth, while revealing a natural
fluency in writing for the voice. Angelina Raux is the mezzo-soprano, with Barry Snyder,
piano. These artists are also heard in a later work, the 1951 song Silhouette (Galilee),
which Bernstein wrote to honor the birthday of his friend and frequent collaborator, mezzo-
soprano Jennie Tourel. This atmospheric work incorporates an old Lebanese folksong
about the Galilee.
       Written 10 years after Psalm 148, Bernstein’s setting of the evening prayer
Hashkivenu (for tenor, chorus and organ) for the Sabbath service, reveals a maturation of
the composer’s stylistic and formal approaches, as well as his effective use of both choral
declamation and solo chant. On this premiere recording, tenor Hans Peter Blochwitz is
soloist with the BBC Singers and organist Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, conducted by
Avner Itai.
       The longest work on this disc is Halil (Flute): Nocturne for Flute, Percussion and
Piano, a rhapsodic, programmatic 1981 work which the composer’s program note states is
“dedicated ‘To the Spirit of Yadin and to His Fallen Brothers.’ The reference is to Yadin
Tannenbaum, a 20-year-old Israeli flutist who, in 1973, at the height of his musical powers,
was killed in his tank in the Sinai.” [during the Yom Kippur War.] The flutist on this disc, the
premiere recording of the chamber version, is Bonita Boyd, with pianist Barry Snyder and a
small ensemble.
       Another work with Israeli connections is Four Sabras (ca.1950), concise
character sketches for solo piano that suggest various Sabras – i.e. native Israelis: a
Dreamer, a Hassid, a Jokester, and a Tomboy. Musical motifs developed in several later
Bernstein scores, among them Candide, On the Waterfront, and West Side Story, can be
heard in this early, evocative work. Not previously performed in public, it is played on this
premiere recording by Jack Gottlieb.
       Also heard on this Milken Archive disc is the Yiddish song – almost a dramatic
scena – “Af Mayn Kha’sene” (At My Wedding) from Arias and Barcarolles (premiere
1988). Jack Gottlieb suggests that the poem, which depicts a charismatic young musician
at a wedding, appealed to Bernstein precisely because it deals with music’s magical
powers of transformation. The work is performed here by baritone Michael Sokol with
pianists Jean Barr and Barry Snyder.
       Additional works by Leonard Bernstein on this recording include two Israeli pioneer
songs from the heady days of Zionism, excerpts from incidental music to The Firstborn,
Christopher Fry’s play about the ten plagues visited on the Egyptians in the Exodus story,
and from the ballet Dybbuk, based on the enduring Jewish legend; as well as three
wedding dances written for Bernstein’s friends and collaborators Adolph Green and Phyllis
Newman.




                                                                                              2
                         MILKEN ARCHIVE OF AMERICAN JEWISH MUSIC
                             NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS SERIES

“LEONARD BERNSTEIN (1918–1990): A Jewish Legacy“
CD# 8.559407                                Playing Time: 55:47

1. Israelite Chorus, from incidental music to The Firstborn
2. Invocation and Trance (from Dybbuk)
3. Psalm 148
4. Reenah
Three Wedding Dances
5. “The First Waltz” (Canon)
6. “Cha-cha-cha”
7. “Hora”
8. Yevarechecha (“The Lord bless you“)
9. Halil (Flute): Nocturne for Flute, Percussion and Piano
10. Simchu Na (Let Us Celebrate)
11. Oif Mayn Kha‘sene (At My Wedding)
12. Vayomer Elohim (And God Said)
13. Yigdal (Hymn of praise)
Four Sabras
14. “Ilana, the Dreamer’”
15. “Idele, the Chassidele”
16. “Yosi, the Jokester”
17. “Dina, the Tomboy Who Weeps Alone”
18. Silhouette (Galilee)       2
19. Hashkiveinu ((Sabbath prayer for peace)


PARTICIPATING ARTISTS
BBC Singers (19); Rochester Singers (1, 4, 10, 13)
Samuel Adler, conductor (1, 4, 10, 13)
Jean Barr, piano (2, 5–7, 11)
Hans Peter Blochwitz, tenor (19)
Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ (19)
Bonita Boyd, flute (9)
Jack Gottlieb, piano (14–17)
Patrick Gnage, baritone (2); Avner Itai, conductor (19)
Aaron Miller, organ (8, 10)
Angelina Réaux, mezzo-soprano (3, 18)
Jason Smith, bass baritone (2)
Barry Snyder, piano (2, 3, 5–7, 9, 11, 12, 18)
Michael Sokol, baritone (8, 11); Cantor Howard Stahl (12)




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