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Though an enormous Bernstein fan, his piano work in Gershwins' Rhapsody was so frustratingly self-centered and quite distracting from the rhythm and pace of this iconic piece. I found myself wanting to nudge Lenny along to move the tempo to a pace where I could actually start enjoying the musical narrative rather than his laborious technique that seems almost parody rather than beauty.The orchestral interludes are a bit better, though not much; the deliberate tempo nuances just don't work with Rhapsody and nearly alter the impact and emotional tone of this lovely piece- the pompous staccato and emphatic punctuation are surprisingly awful. Buy Previn's version of this on EMI, which interpret's Gershwin's composing the way it was intended to be heard, at least to my ears. On a positve note,Bernsteins' interpretation of Barbers Adagio is sumptuous and gorgeous, my favourite version; so this album has huge contrasts, hence the three stars.
Bernstein's very very broadly paced rendition of Barber's Adagio is still unsurpassed for its almost painful emotional intensity and sublime beauty. When Bernstein takes a risk of extremely slow tempo, the music usually falls apart (the prime example; Elgar's Enigma Variation and Mahler's 2n & 8th), but with 'Adagio', it works! The way strings gradually build up the intensity and gather momentum is simply astounding and the long pause which follows the climax is awe-inspiring.
Rhapsody in Blue, with Bernstein at the piano, is also very impressive, with dazzling piano solo and powerfully expressive orchestra. What a superb pianist Bernstein was! He could have made a career as a concert pianist.
I purchased this CD primarily for Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings. It is barely audible even when listened on headphones. Frustrating and disappointing. If you are seeking this composition, I would recommend you consider another performance / CD.
Bought this CD mainly for what must be "THE DEFINITIVE VERSION" of "SAMUEL BARBERS ADAGIO FOR STRINGS" performed by the "LOS ANGELES PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA" Having listened to many many versions of this famous orchestral piece,this version conducted by "LEONARD BERNSTEIN" Must surely be the best of all ... Played at just the right "UNHURRIED" tempo that draws all the emotion from the piece and is an absolute joy to listen to. .... Gershwins "Rhapsody in blue" is also an excellent version .. Again conducted by the Master "Leonard Bernstein" ... All in all an excellent CD at the price for all lovers of good music.
Spettacolare! Un CD registrato ad arte, con una notevole resa dinamica, della nota esecuzione dell'Orchestra Filarmonica di Los Angeles, diretta dal grande Leonard Bernstein. Coinvolgente, entusiasmante, emozionante. Assolutamente da non perdere.