27 Songs, 1 Hour 16 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Leonard Bernstein’s digitally recorded 1984 orchestral version of West Side Story stirred controversy amongst critics and amateur classical aficionados alike for casting operatic stars Kiri te Kanawa and Jose Carreras in the lead roles of Maria and Tony. But Bernstein’s only attempt at fully interpreting his 1957 Broadway musical under his own baton argues that the aging maestro had lost none of his typically boisterous ambition, or his willingness to willfully challenge the original intentions of any composer he tackled — especially himself. Persistent grousing in some quarters that opera stars Kanawa and Carreras were either too old, over-trained or somehow otherwise unsuited for the roles missed the point: this is Bernstein’s vision of his iconic stage show writ large, an epic production meant to rival the scale and melodrama of European operatic traditions. Ably supported by the London Symphony and Chrous and the muscular performances of his stars (who also include American mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos as Anita), it’s a production characterized by Bernstein’s crowd-pleasing, if ever controversial willingness to push the musical envelope with unmatched verve.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Leonard Bernstein’s digitally recorded 1984 orchestral version of West Side Story stirred controversy amongst critics and amateur classical aficionados alike for casting operatic stars Kiri te Kanawa and Jose Carreras in the lead roles of Maria and Tony. But Bernstein’s only attempt at fully interpreting his 1957 Broadway musical under his own baton argues that the aging maestro had lost none of his typically boisterous ambition, or his willingness to willfully challenge the original intentions of any composer he tackled — especially himself. Persistent grousing in some quarters that opera stars Kanawa and Carreras were either too old, over-trained or somehow otherwise unsuited for the roles missed the point: this is Bernstein’s vision of his iconic stage show writ large, an epic production meant to rival the scale and melodrama of European operatic traditions. Ably supported by the London Symphony and Chrous and the muscular performances of his stars (who also include American mezzo-soprano Tatiana Troyanos as Anita), it’s a production characterized by Bernstein’s crowd-pleasing, if ever controversial willingness to push the musical envelope with unmatched verve.

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