For his third Criss Cross release, guitarist Peter Bernstein leads an all-star organ combo that also includes tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, trombonist Steve Davis, organist Larry Goldings, and drummer Billy Drummond. Some of the music that the quintet performs is typical for this type of hard bop/soul-jazz group, including a hot minor-toned blues, "Means and Ends," and Percy Mayfield's blues ballad "Danger Zone." However, a few of the other selections (particularly Bernstein's four originals) are more complex and serve as evidence that the music was being performed in 1996, not 1966. The musicians all play up to their capabilities and Goldings shows that he was one of the most inventive organists of the decade.
Leonard Bernstein was an American composer, conductor, author, music lecturer, and pianist. His music was an eclectic mix of theatre music, jazz and neoclassicism. This diverse Modern period composer created works in virtually all genres. As already stated, Bernstein was an eclectic composer whose music fused elements of jazz, theatre music and neoclassicism, the latter inspired by composers like Copland, Stravinsky, Milhaud, and Gershwin. Some of his works, especially his score for West Side Story, helped bridge the gap between classical and popular music.
It is all too easy to take Gustav Mahler's symphonies and orchestral songs for granted in the 21st century's first decade. More than ever before, concert performances and recordings of these works abound, and at a level of proficiency that reveals the remarkable extent to which musicians worldwide have assimilated the composer's idiom. Given the music's primacy in today's central orchestral repertoire, we forget how the great Mahler advocates of the past had to champion his music in the face of adversity. "Who can bear those monstrous symphonies, those over-blown, out-of-date horrors," asked one leading music critic when the New York Philharmonic launched a Mahler Festival to celebrate the composer's 1960 centenary.
Les Noces is a screaming, shrieking, flat-out masterpiece. Leonard Bernstein himself has referred to it as Stravinsky's greatest work, and listening to this incendiary performance, it's awfully hard to disagree. Scored for voices, four pianos, and percussion, the work provided the inspiration for the entire career of Orff (of Carmina Burana fame), but it's so much better as sheer music than anything Orff wrote. And what a cast! The pianists for this performance include Martha Argerich, Krystian Zimerman, Cyprien Katsaris, and Homero Francesch, four certified virtuoso performers, while the singers of the English Bach Festival Chorus really cover themselves with glory in both works. A stunner.
Leonard Bernstein bestrode the musical scene in the second half of the 20th century like few others. For the last decade of his life he recorded exclusively for Deutsche Grammophon, having also made several recordings for the label in the 1970s, starting with his celebrated Carmen in 1973.
VOLUME ONE comprises Bernstein's complete recordings of composers from Beethoven to Liszt, and includes all of Bernstein's recordings of his own works, those of Brahms and Haydn, and individual CDs of Bruckner, Debussy, Dvorak, Elgar, Franck, Hindemith and many American composers.