Bernstein: Dybbuk, Fancy Free / Mogrelia, Nashville Symphony

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Not too many listeners are Dybbuk admirers, and even Bernstein's supporters find this music less interesting than much else that he wrote. The fact that the music resorts to some dodecaphonic and numerological compositional techniques isn't a point in its favor, though in actual sonority it's entirely characteristic of Bernstein, and at this late date it's easy to hear that his personality inhabits every bar. If there's a problem with the piece, it likely stems from the fact that the overall impression it makes is a bit glum, lacking in that special snap that makes his best work so memorable. Certainly the supernatural subject is a dark one, and it calls forth plenty of eerie, atmospheric scoring; but the actual musical material seems stretched thinly over the work's 45 minutes (48, if you're the composer). Bernstein recorded the complete work for Sony, but broke it up into a pair of suites for his DG remakes. I do prefer the original; the music is what it is, and over time it has grown on me--and might well do so for you too.

Fancy Free of course is delightful, and often recorded, but this performance holds its own with the best--and I frankly prefer Andrew Mogrelia to the composer in Dybbuk. He's just that much livelier, and the Nashville Symphony sounds as inside the idiom as the New York Philharmonic of several decades' past. This newcomer also is better recorded than Bernstein's performances either on Sony or DG, and the excellent version of "Hot Stuff" that opens Fancy Free also is a plus. If you're a Bernstein fan, you will certainly want this.
--David Hurwitz,

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8559280

  • UPC: 636943928028

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein

  • Conductor: Andrew Mogrelia

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

  • Performer: Abby Burke, Mark P. Risinger, Mel Ulrich, Roger Spencer, Sam Bacco, Stephen Kummer