Bernstein On the Waterfront

March 9, 2018



Christian Lindberg and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra have come up with a fine recording of the Bernstein film/Broadway works of Bernstein. They’ve made in my opinion a jazz sound from a symphony orchestra, something I’ve not heard before. The percussion section must be given thumbs up for a special performance. I knew this would be a good one when I heard the opening strains of Candide.

The five works that makeup this recording were were all done in the 40’s and 50’s. He turned his works to the classical side and spent his time teaching, conducting, and writing religious classical music during the last thirty years of his life. For all of those reasons he is a true icon in the classical world.

Candide (1956) is likely Bernstein’s most popular piece. The short four minute piece consists of three different themes nicely blended together in a wonderful overture. The tune you’ll remember most is the middle tune “The Best of All Possible Worlds” but listen carefully for the other two.

West Side Story (1957) began on the Broadway stage and went on to become a movie in 1961 winning 10 Oscars. The nine dances encompass nearly 22 minutes of different styles including ballet, mambo, jazz, cha-cha, and a fugue. This is the place where “Maria,” “To and “Somewhere” came from. This is one of the more popular Broadway plays as well as the movie.

Fancy Free” (1944) was Bernstein’s first major work which served as the inspiration for the popular film/broadway  On the Town. It didn’t share the music, however. It consists of three dances Galop, Waltz, and Danzon, he shared with Aaron Copland who used it as “Danzon Cubano.”

On the Waterfront (1954) was the only film that Bernstein did for Hollywood and his friend Elia Kazan. It  is a gritty somewhat dissonant score except for the main theme which was also used in Chinatown. We can say that the style was something like Alex North and the two films he did for Kazan Streetcar Named Desire and Viva Zapapta.

On the Town (1946) also became a movie with Sinatra and Kelly with different music of course. We hear three dances from the play. The first two are ballet and the last a showy Gershwin type music.

While not classical it certainly deserves a place in your Bernstein section of your CD’s. It shows the versatility of this very talented man.


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