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Leonard Bernstein

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STRAVINSKY
The Rite of Spring
Capriccio for piano and orchestra
Symphony of Psalms

Michel Béroff PIANO
The English Bach Festival Chorus
London Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Bernstein
8 APRIL 1972, ROYAL ALBERT HALL, LONDON

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This memorial concert took place at the Royal Albert Hall in April 1972 on the first anniversary of the death of Igor Stravinsky, ‘the last great father-figure of Western music’ (Leonard Bernstein). Bernstein called it an homage to Stravinsky’s universality and chose the three featured masterpieces for their suggestion of ‘the extraordinary range of his art’. Conducted by Bernstein, this electrifying, unique event is now being re-introduced to the public in DVD form.

ICAD 5124


1 Introduction to ICA Classics 2.57

IGOR STRAVINSKY 1882–1971

2–15 The Rite of Spring · Le Sacre du printemps 0.00
16–18 Capriccio for piano and orchestra* 0.00
19–21 Symphony of Psalms† 0.00

Due to the condition of the film, the level of possible restoration work for the
performance of the Symphony of Psalms was limited. In spite of certain technical
constraints, the performance is of exceptional musical interest and value.

*Michel Béroff piano

†The English Bach Festival Chorus

London Symphony Orchestra
LEONARD BERNSTEIN
Recorded: Royal Albert Hall, London, 8 April 1972

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Grade 
Aurelie B
17/Jul/2014

"a fascinating DVD in many ways"

Robert Benson

Classical Review CD

    Grade 
    Aurelie B
    17/Jul/2014

    [...] The performance of Le Sacre is superb. The LSO is on top form, offering razor-sharp response [...]
    This concert is a great exhibition of Bernstein at work. He obtains splendid performances and generates a genuine sense of occasion. [...]

    John Quinn

    Music Web International, April 2014

      Grade 
      Aurelie B
      18/Jun/2014

      Leonard Bernstein's athletic, balletic 1959 disc of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring has recently resurfaced on Sony. It remains stunning. He recorded the piece again with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1972, and this DVD captures a live Royal Albert Hall performance a few days earlier, mounted to mark the first anniversary of Stravinsky's death. The rehearsal process was slightly fraught; Bernstein became indisposed during early sessions at the RAH, prompting David Meacham (leader of the second violins) to step up and take temporary charge. Bernstein returned a few days later, rejuvenated in time for the performance. The LSO's playing is powerfully incisive, and the fun comes from watching his movements translate into such visceral, pungent orchestral sounds. At times he does very little; shrugging, nodding, grinning, just trusting the musicians to get on with it. But when a clear beat is absolutely necessary, he's phenomenal to watch – every change of metre in the Danse Sacrale is clearly spelt out. Amateur musicians will feel like taking out their instruments and joining in. Timings are broad, but all seems taut and driven, a snapshot of a great conductor at the height of his powers.

      Stravinsky's Capriccio offers some light relief, Michel Béroff pointing out the work's debt to Poulenc. Winds and horns are magnificent, and you're left wondering why this highly approachable, effervescent work isn't heard more often. Presumably because it's so difficult for the soloist. ICA's mono sound has scrubbed up well, and the image quality is good, apart from a few visual dropouts in the final work. Bernstein's reading of the Symphony of Psalms is unusually solemn and reverential, but the extrovert brass writing in the last movement is irresistible. Stravinsky's hushed close will provoke tears, and the English Bach Festival Chorus sing with full-throated fervour. Watch what Bernstein does as the work ends. You'll wish you were there.

      Graham Rickson

      The Arts Desk (March 2014)

        Grade 
        Aurelie B
        18/Jun/2014

        The conductor takes the limelight, animating old Russian tunes from within and giving the music’s primal urge momentum
        Expertly filmed in colour by Humphrey Burton and originally broadcast on Britain’s fledgling independent television in April 1972, this DVD documents a London Symphony Orchestra concert in the Royal Albert Hall on the first anniversary of Stravinsky’s death.
        Who better to conduct it than the man who famously stated that “the whole modern movement begins with Sacre du printemps”?
        The performance finds the LSO at its swashbuckling best, but it’s Bernstein who takes the limelight, animating the old Russian tunes from within, communicating the music’s primal urge and giving it a tumultuous, unstoppable momentum.
        The concert also comprises the Capriccio for piano and orchestra (Michel Béroff) and the Symphony of Psalms with the English Bach Festival Chorus.

        ***** (5 stars) By Andrew Clark

        Financial Time (February 2014)

          Grade 
          Aurelie B
          18/Jun/2014

          This film document of a Stravinsky memorial concert one year after the composer’s death, comprises a spectacular version of the Rite of Spring, a brilliant account of the Capriccio and a deeply felt and thus very emotional version of the Symphony of Psalms.

          Pizzicato (April 2014)

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