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Cat. No. CHAN 10172 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10172 - Bernstein: Kaddish/ Chichester Psalms/Missa Brevis
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Available From: 09 February 2004
The two major works on this disc are deeply rooted in the composer’s earthy, energetic and theatrical response to questions of faith in general and Judaism in particular. In contrast to the extrovert gestures of the Third Symphony and the Chichester Psalms, the expressive language of the Missa Brevis is more restrained. The work was prepared in 1988 when the composer’s seventieth birthday was being fêted across the globe.

The more typical elements of Bernstein’s idiom – the jazzy brashness, the melodies, the excitingly vivid orchestral colour – are better represented in Symphony No. 3 Kaddish. The symphony was first performed in Tel Aviv on 10 December 1963, less than three weeks after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, to whom this score is dedicated. ‘Kaddish’ is a Jewish prayer for the dead, but the work is far from mournful in content. It praises God, affirms life and pleads for peace. For the recited text in the symphony Bernstein wrote his own impassioned and highly personal prayer around the Kaddish. At a press conference after a performance in 1977, Bernstein expressed his dissatisfaction with the text he had written and which here appears in a new version by his daughter Jamie.

The Chichester Psalms were commissioned by Walter Hussey, Dean of the UK’s Chichester Cathedral. When writing to invite Bernstein to compose the piece, Hussey confessed that he would be delighted if the score had ‘a hint of West Side Story’ about it. Bernstein must have taken this suggestion literally, for he lifted much of the musical material from pre-existing stage scores – not only from his most famous musical but also from the projected musical The Skin of Our Teeth.
Reviews

Jamie Bernstein has reworked the narration written by her father, adding to the works frenetic complexity, which registers powerfully in this recording. Fans of heart-on-sleeve Berntsein will enjoy bold versions of his Chichester Psalms and Missa Brevis.
Classic FM Magazine

Especially in surround sound, which gives the acoustic considerably more depth and the sonorities more juice, Chandos engineering is magnificent. Particularly in the way the clear spacial disposition of the choir gives added punch to contrapuntal and antiphonal passages.
International Record Review

On this Chandos CD there is a consistently first-class sound and recording quality, which highlights the great accomplishment of the soloists… This CD is a great tribute to Bernstein as a composer.
Cathedral Music

'Now we have positive proof that the Brits can handle Bernstein with the best. Slatkin - one of American music's leading champions - gives the composer's own accounts some stiff interpretative competition; Chandos strengthens his case with superior, state-of-the-art sound. This is one of those Super-Audio hybrid discs, and while I'm unable to report on its qualities in the SA mode, it sounded absolutely stunning on my obsolete equipment. A must for Audiophile Bernstein fans.'
American Record Guide

Especially in surround sound, which gives the acoustic considerably more depth and the sonorities more juice, Chandos engineering is magnificent. Particularly in the way the clear spacial disposition of the choir gives added punch to contrapuntal and antiphonal passages.
International Record Review

 

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