PLATTER PERSPECTIVE – Composer: Leonard Bernstein

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Leonard Bernstein

Bradley Cooper

Bradley Cooper’s Maestro gave a somewhat superficial depiction of the marriage of Leonard and Felicia Bernstein while biographies of David Ewen, John Gruen and Joan Peyser filled in some facts and personal, at times biased observations, Gruen providing fascinating interviews as well.

I am going to provide a list of recommended recordings from the great man and leave biography and anecdotes for another day.

To begin:

1958 – Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet coupled with Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, his first studio recording with the New York Philharmonic, had an extraordinary combination of savage excitement, highly controlled discipline and exquisite beauty.

1962 – Beethoven’s 5th Symphony received a performance that, to this day, has been equalled by such conductors as Karel Ancerl, Wilhelm Furtwangler, Otto Klemperer, Fritz Reiner, Bruno Walter, Arturo Toscanini, Herbert von Karajan, Eugene Ormandy, Andre Cluytens and a few others but never surpassed for rehearings over the last 50 years and is, for me, the best record he ever did of any Beethoven Symphony, although the 1972 Boston Symphony youtube and the 1980 ones Bernstein conducted of the same composer’s Pastoral Symphony scored some very lovely points. Bernstein achieved in the 5th a breathing spaciousness and gripping intensity that was exquisitely forged.

1963 – Bernstein recorded Dvorak’s 7th Symphony, which is my favorite of all his 9 magnificent Symphonies, and gave a performance in which his wild, frantic, very sentimental side, qualities that ruined other recordings of various works, came off very well and during the past 60 years, I have worn out two or three copies of the LP.

1965 – Bernstein recorded Mahler’s intensely emotional 5th Symphony and mastered its manic/depressive moods to an extraordinary degree. It is my favorite of all his Mahler recordings, although his 1966 London Symphony set of the composer’s 8th with a thousand voices and huge orchestra is one always worth getting to know. Plus the New York Philharmonic Mahler 4th with soprano Reri Grist is a gem.

Finally the 1961 soundtrack of his musical West Side Story with Marni Nixon’s exquisite soprano dubbed in for Natalie Wood’s Maria and the vibrant ensemble work of others is, by a narrow margin over the original 1957 Broadway cast recording, an album that stands the test of time.

All the above are on YouTube.

Robert Patrick

Actor Robert Patrick portrayed a very convincing Homeland Security government agent of upright integrity and supportiveness on the 4 seasons of Scorpion and a deadly corrupt chief of security on the current 8 episode season of Reacher.

From Rumford native Tom Fallon’s poem Work Piece:

“Noise continuous: keep
the machine running:
what time is it:
what time is it
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Noon, sandwiches. Eat.”

A very powerful depiction of the grueling paper mills of Maine’s industrial age.


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