Bernstein: West Side Story / Schermerhorn, Nashville Symphony

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This new West Side Story, the first American-based recording to appear since DG's star-studded 1985 composer-conducted version, blessedly avoids that earlier production's operatic pretensions, returning...
This new West Side Story, the first American-based recording to appear since DG's star-studded 1985 composer-conducted version, blessedly avoids that earlier production's operatic pretensions, returning instead to the work's Broadway roots by using young, theatrically trained singers with some genuine acting ability. Even with that, it's probably wishful thinking to expect that this cast (fine as it is) can recreate the vibrant, raw freshness and scintillating brilliance of the original. Mike Eldred's Tony comes off best; singing with a more mature sound than Larry Kert, he nonetheless creates a sense of heightened expectancy and wonder in "Something's Coming". As Maria, Betsi Morrison struggles to maintain an authentic-sounding Puerto Rican accent, but she sings beautifully throughout, especially in "Tonight" and "I Have a Love". I'm afraid Marianne Cook's Anita is no match for Chita Rivera's, but she communicates the character's feelings convincingly enough. The remainder of the ensemble consists of good, solid, legit voices, but a lot has changed on Broadway since 1957: the overall style of singing, with its occasionally overemphatic declamation (as in "A Boy Like That" and "Cool") makes clear how years of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals have influenced American performers.


This recording utilizes Bernstein's score in its original form, before it underwent the necessary revisions to make it more suitable to the needs of musical theater at the time. Actually, it sounds pretty much the same, the most obvious distinctions being a few missing bars near the end of the Prologue and the different vocal arrangement for "America".


Kenneth Schermerhorn was studying with Bernstein during the creation of West Side Story and briefly was considered as a possible conductor for the premiere. Finally getting his chance nearly 50 years later, Schermerhorn conducts the score with an authority and enthusiasm that reveals his intimate knowledge and personal conviction, even if at times his tempos drag (as in "I feel pretty" and "Gee Officer Krupke"), though not as much as the elderly Bernstein's. Then there's the somewhat obsessive concern with full note values at the expense of rhythmic flow (as in the "Jet Song", and in "Quintet", with its heavy articulation on the word "tonight") that occasionally robs the music of its spontaneity.


Throughout, the Nashville Symphony plays with an ideal blend of symphonic elegance and jazzy swagger that shows why this work is such a wonderful classic. Only the multimiked and obviously studio-bound recording, with its artificially close voices, slightly disappoints. Yet despite this and the above-noted concerns, this production faithfully recreates the magical and enthralling world that is West Side Story, and anyone coming to this piece afresh is in for a rare and special experience. [11/4/2002]
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com


Product Description:


  • Release Date: October 01, 2002


  • UPC: 636943912621


  • Catalog Number: 8559126


  • Label: Naxos


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Period: ""


  • Composer: Leonard Bernstein


  • Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra


  • Performer: Betsi Morrison, Joanna Chozen, Marianne Cooke, Michael San Giovanni, Michelle Prentice, Mike Eldred, Robert Dean



Works:


  1. West Side Story

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Robert Dean (Voice), Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice), Michael San Giovanni (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  2. West Side Story: Prologue

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  3. West Side Story: Jet song

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Robert Dean (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  4. West Side Story: Something's coming

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  5. West Side Story: Blues

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  6. West Side Story: Promenade

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  7. West Side Story: Mambo

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  8. West Side Story: Maria

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  9. West Side Story: Tonight

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice), Michael San Giovanni (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  10. West Side Story: America

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Joanna Chozen (Voice), Marianne Cooke (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  11. West Side Story: Cool

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Robert Dean (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  12. West Side Story: One hand, one heart

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  13. West Side Story: Rumble

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  14. West Side Story: I feel pretty

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Betsi Morrison (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  15. West Side Story: Ballet music

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  16. West Side Story: Transition to Scherzo

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  17. West Side Story: Scherzo

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  18. West Side Story: Somewhere

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Michelle Prentice (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  19. West Side Story: Gee, Officer Krupke

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  20. West Side Story: A boy like that/I have a love

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  21. West Side Story: Taunting Scene

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  22. West Side Story: Finale

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn


  23. West Side Story: Procession and Nightmare

    Composer: Leonard Bernstein

    Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra

    Conductor: Kenneth Schermerhorn