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Leonard Bernstein Conducts His Own Music

August 22, 2008

NEW YORK, Aug. 22 /PRNewswire/ — The legacy of Leonard Bernstein — as a conductor, composer, and music advocate — in the history and trajectory of twentieth-century America music can hardly be overstated. In this anniversary year for the composer, Sony BMG Masterworks is releasing The Original Jacket Collection: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein — specially created to celebrate the 90th anniversary of his birth on August 25, 2008 and the 50th anniversary of his appointment as Music Director of the New York Philharmonic.

The first of a new Carnegie Hall/Sony Masterworks series of CD releases under the moniker of Carnegie Hall Presents, The Original Jacket Collection: Bernstein Conducts Bernstein heralds the Bernstein Festival that opens Carnegie Hall’s 2008-09 season on September 24th. Carnegie Hall and the New York Philharmonic’s three-month program of events, entitled Bernstein: The Best of All Possible Worlds, pays tribute to each aspect of Bernstein’s legacy with 50 concerts and education events. 2008 also marks the 65th anniversary of Bernstein’s historic Carnegie Hall debut. For more information on the festival, visit http://www.bernsteinfestival.org/.

This 10-disc set includes all of Bernstein’s own definitive recordings of his greatest works as a composer — many recorded with the New York Philharmonic during his historic years with that orchestra — from his first exuberant Broadway musical On the Town and the explosive Symphonic Dances from West Side Story to his heartbreakingly beautiful “Kaddish” Symphony and the radiant hope of the Chichester Psalms — as well as the complete world premiere recording of Mass. Most of these are world premiere recordings, all led by Bernstein — fascinating documents from a great composer who was also a great conductor, at the top of his game.

Each disc has been individually repackaged in a sleeve that replicates the original LP cover art. The package includes excerpts from the original LP liner notes, plus a new essay by Bernstein biographer, friend and colleague Humphrey Burton.

Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) launched himself into the classical music stratosphere at the age of 25 with a last-minute debut at Carnegie Hall on November 14, 1943, when he substituted for conductor Bruno Walter in a program with the New York Philharmonic. The press and public were smitten with the flair and style of this quintessential New Yorker. The New York Times Magazine described the young musician two years later as “a sort of mixture of Mozart, Toscanini, Horatio Alger hero and Frank Sinatra.” That description hit upon the indelible qualities of Bernstein’s glamorous career: his authority as a conductor, his charisma as a popular personality, and, of course, his genius as a composer in a vast swathe of musical styles and genres.

As a composer, Bernstein’s mix of musical styles was as brash and innovative then as it is iconic now. He created three timeless Broadway musicals — On the Town, Wonderful Town and West Side Story — and some of the most exciting orchestral music of the age. From symphonies and ballets to musical comedies and cheeky song cycles, Bernstein was perhaps the greatest popular hero in American music for his seamless integration of classical forms, jazz, cool jive, popular balladry and symphonic grandeur. The very tone of his music — sweet and direct, brassy and unabashed — is uniquely American.

Bernstein’s legacies as a composer, conductor and music advocate could easily stand alone, and often do in popular and critical assessment, but taken together they show how deftly he absorbed and transformed contemporary music. A release of Leonard Bernstein conducting his own music is the ultimate tribute to an artist often considered a modern-day Renaissance man.

RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi, Masterworks Broadway and Masterworks Jazz are labels of Sony BMG Masterworks. For email updates and information regarding RCA Red Seal, Sony Classical, deutsche harmonia mundi, Masterworks Broadway and Masterworks Jazz artists, promotions, tours and repertoire, please visit http://www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/

   TRACKLISTING    DISC 1   Overture to Candide   Symphonic Dances from West Side Story   Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront   Fancy Free    DISC 2   Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1  

The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2 (after W.H. Auden/1965 version) — Philippe Entremeont, piano

   I Hate Music!   La Bonne Cuisine -- Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano    DISC 3  

The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2 (after W.H. Auden/1949 version) (mono) — Lukas Foss, piano

Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion (after Plato’s “Symposium”) (mono) — Isaac Stern, violin

DISC 4

Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 (To the Beloved Memory of John F. Kennedy) — Felicia Montealegre, speaker and Jennie Tourel, mezzo-soprano

   Chichester Psalms -- John Paul Bogart, alto    DISC 5   Prelude, Fugue and Riffs -- Benny Goodman, clarinet   On The Town (Three Dance Episodes)  

Serenade for Solo Violin, Strings, Harp and Percussion (after Plato’s “Symposium”) — Zino Francescatti, violin

   Fancy Free (mono)    DISC 6   Dybbuk (Complete Ballet)    DISC 7   Trouble in Tahiti - An Opera in Seven Scenes   Facsimile - Choreographic Essay for Orchestra    DISC 8   On The Town    DISCS 9 & 10   Mass - A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers  

Sony BMG Masterworks

CONTACT: US, Susan Schiffer, Sony BMG Masterworks, +1-212-833-4763,Susan.Schiffer@sonybmg.com; or International, Silke Zimmermann, Sony BMGMasterworks, +49-89-41369646, Silke.Zimmermann@sonybmg.com

Web Site: http://www.bernsteinfestival.org/http://www.sonybmgmasterworks.com/




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