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Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


 

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Darius MILHAUD (1892-1974)
La crťation du monde - ballet, Op. 81 (1923) [16:47]
Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67: no 7, Corcovado; no 9, Sumarť; no 8, Tijuca; no 11, Larenjeiras (1920-1921) [7:25]
Le boeuf sur le toit - ballet, Op. 58 (1919) [19:35]
Saudades do Brasil, Op. 67† (1920-1921) [19:35] (complete: Overture; no. 1,Ė Sorocabo; ; no. 2, Botafogo; no. 3, Leme; no. 4, Copacabana; no. 5, Ipanema; no. 6, Gavea; no. 7, Corcovado; no. 8, Tijuca; no. 9, Sumarť; no. 10, Paineras; no. 11, Larenjeiras; no. 12 Paysandu
ORTF National Orchestra/Leonard Bernstein
Concert Arts Orchestra/composer (Saudades complete)
rec. 12-13 November 1976, Salle Wagram, Paris (Bernstein); 10-12 Sept 1956, Studio A, Capitol Tower, Hollywood. ADD
EMI CLASSICS GREAT RECORDINGS OF THE CENTURY 3 45808 2 [67:01]

 


 

These scores are natural choices well-suited to Bernsteinís temperament and taste.

La Crťation du Monde is warm and dreamy then explodes with clamorous uproar.† Thereís a serene Bachian element there (compare Villa-Lobos) alongside the refracted jazz and Brazilian popular culture. Piano and percussion point up the currents that were to be developed by Gershwin but always with a smoother and not necessarily more engaging smile. Listen to moments such as the Gershwin ghost at 10:13 onwards. Itís all ideal stuff for Bernstein and ends in calmness. 

Bernsteinís Le Boeuf sur le Toit is a sweaty glorious broth of rapidly changing, big and brassy popular music, shift-focus tangos, tangy abrasive percussion, rambunctious brass and the feral chatter of the streets. There are times when it feels like a metropolitan echo of the wide-open barbarity of Graingerís Warriors. It includes some wonderful moments such as the gently serenading high violins playing over a muffled bass end at 6:30.† The composer initially conceived the music as the background for a Chaplin silent. However it metamorphosed into a spectacle set in a New York bar with a zany scenario by Jean Cocteau. 

At first EMI give us only four segments of Milhaudís thirteen Saudades do Brasil (tangos). They were the only ones that Bernstein recorded although at the end of the disc all thirteen are given in a lovingly restored recording made by the composer himself in Hollywood. Thereís an insinuating Corcovado reminiscent of Samuel Barberís Souvenirs which includes its own explosively sultry Tango. Itís all taken a lot faster by Milhaud himself when he recorded it twenty years previous. He uses the percussion to mark out the rhythm with a sharper edge; same goes for the Sumare. Once again the composer is quicker than Bernstein. In the Tijuca the composer gives the street rhythms a captivating gurgle and accent. Itís a delight to have the Milhaud recording here. In most cases Bernstein comes second to the sheer authentic vitality and street flavour of the composerís uproarious readings. There is the vaguest suggestion of blast on the loudest passages but it is nothing even to blink at. 

Roger Nichols contributes a very personal and distinctively informative note.

Three classic Milhaud scores of the 1920s in tangy recordings from Bernstein and the composer. A pleasure to welcome them back and donít underestimate the rakish zest of the composerís version of the Saudades. 

Rob Barnett 

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