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Leonard Bernstein: Symphony No. 1, "Jeremiah"
Leonard Bernstein: Concerto for Orchestra, "Jubilee Games"
I. Free-Style Events: Allegro con brio, giocoso
II. Mixed Doubles: Theme
II. Variation 1
II. Variation 2
II. Variation 3
II. Variation 4
II. Variation 5
II. Variation 6
II. Variation 7
III. Diaspora Dances: Vivace
IV. Benediction: Moderato, invocando
“In life, Leonard Bernstein ran into criticism for programming his own concert music. Now he's gone, it seems we can't get enough of it – and in a variety of performance styles. Latterday champions such as Michael Tilson Thomas and Marin Alsop still go for the idiomatic jugular. Less extrovert interpreters – David Zinman and Kent Nagano spring to mind – downplay the bravado to discover a fresher transparency. On this disc James Judd, British-born but for many years Florida-based, seems closer to the second camp while remaining remarkably faithful to the composer's own overall timings in both pieces. Keeping a stiff upper lip isn't an option in the Concerto for Orchestra, one of Bernstein's most exploratory and frankly uneven scores. Some of its music is very beautiful, though it isn't easy to see what it has to do with the rest. Judd sometimes trumps the composer's own wilder performance with his paler, more neutral tone. Competition is fiercer in the coupling. The scherzo of the Jeremiah, rowdy, raw and rhetorical in the composer's New York recording, is brought that much closer to the symphonic mainstream here, the New Zealand winds relatively polite and in tune. The portentous, hieratic tendencies of the last movement may even be less apparent when the singer is an Australasian crossover artist rather than the customary grande dame. The sonorities are lighter and the voltage a little lower than you might be used to. A genuine bargain even so, with recorded sound way ahead of the super-budget norm. There are full if not always felicitously expressed notes. Newcomers needn't hesitate.”
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