Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Mahler symphony 6 Nott


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 


REVIEW


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 

alternatively
CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

 


Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Mass – A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers (1971) [104:01]
Text from the liturgy of the Roman Mass. Additional texts by Stephen Schwartz and Leonard Bernstein
Jubilant Sykes (baritone), Celebrant; Asher Edward Wulfman (boy soprano)
Morgan State University Choir/Dr. Eric Conway
Peabody Children’s Chorus/Doreen Falby
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop
rec. Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, Baltimore, Maryland, 21-22 October 2008. DDD
NAXOS 8.559622-23 [65:11 + 38:50] [LW]
Experience Classicsonline

 

Leonard Bernstein’s Mass has had a most peculiar recorded history. When the work was premiered in 1971, it was roundly criticized both for its mixture of musical styles and its blasphemous text. The work then seemed to lay dormant for more than thirty years. I still have my LPs of the original recording, but never thought much about going back to them. At the time I remember being impressed with parts of the score, primarily the “Simple Song” and sections that reminded me of the composer’s Chichester Psalms, a far stronger work, I thought, and my favorite “serious” piece of Bernstein’s. Now within the past few years there have been at least three new recordings of Mass causing a reassessment. I have not heard the recordings by Kent Nagano (Harmonia Mundi) or Kristjan Järvi (Chandos), both of which have received positive, if mixed, reviews. I won’t go into the background of the score here, as Simon Thompson has already done so in his highly laudatory review of the Alsop recording on this website.
 
I will say, right off, however, that I also am extremely impressed with this new account and now understand this work better than ever before. Indeed, I find Mass to be a very infectious piece and one that I have trouble getting out of my head. I never realized before how much of the score recalls West Side Story. I doubt Mass is Bernstein’s greatest masterpiece as some have recently thought, but I can say that it is a much better work than I gave it credit before. Oddly enough, what may have seemed out of date ten or twenty years ago, seems timely now. The themes of humankind’s destruction of its own kind and of other species play an important role in Mass as does questioning the role of organized religion — with the right-wing evangelical movement’s influence on the political front. Now to the disc at hand.
 
Obviously, Bernstein’s recording remains the yardstick by which subsequent performances will be judged. Almost immediately the most notable difference is in the voice of the Celebrant. If one is used to the more straightforward singing of Alan Titus on the original recording, Jubilant Sykes’ style may seem “over the top” in its more dramatic presentation. His voice can change from beautifully soft singing to crooning, as the text requires. Once one gets used to it — and I surely did — it seems to be more interesting than Titus’s approach. Then there are the textual changes. Nowhere in the intelligently written booklet notes is there a mention of who changed the text and for what reason. The changes, though relatively minor, do not seem to me to be an improvement. Nor, however, do they do the work any real harm. For example, the Second Blues Singer in the Part IV Confession sings the following on the original recording: “If you ask me to love you on a bed of spice, Now that might be nice … It’s easy to keep the flair in your affair.” On the new recording it is, “If you ask me to love you in some real good vice Now that might be nice … It’s easy to have yourself a fine affair.” Later, on the original recording the Third Blues Singer sings, “It’s easy to criticize and beat my jive, But hard to deny how neatly I survive.” On the new one, it is, “It’s easy for you to dig my jim jam jive, And, baby, please observe how neatly I survive.” There are many other places in the Mass where similar changes are made. If Bernstein himself made them or approved of them, that’s fine. But the listener should be told. The other thing that could be improved upon is the listing of the various soloists singing the roles of the street people. They are all listed as a group in the beginning of the booklet, rather than giving them credit as individuals by each number they sing. They play as vital a role as the Morgan State University Choir, Peabody Children’s Chorus and the Baltimore Symphony all marshalled under the expert direction of Marin Alsop. Fortunately, young Asher Edward Wulfman, the boy soprano, gets separate billing. He clearly deserves it as much as Jubilant Sykes does for his greater part in the work.
 
The recording itself leaves nothing to be desired with sumptuous sound that at the same time allows for very clear diction. One hardly needs the text to follow the lyrics. If you haven’t heard Mass for a while you ought to get a copy of this recording. With its exciting performance and outstanding sound, it’s not likely to be superseded for the foreseeable future.
 

Leslie Wright

see also review by Simon Thompson [October RECORDING OF THE MONTH]
 

 

 
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
.
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Comment
Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips


Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools




Return to Review Index

Untitled Document


Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.