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Michael Quinn
Classical Ear, January 2017

With its layers of fiercely bubbling musical lava, the volatile Second Symphony (‘The Age of Anxiety’) boasts virtuosic flair from the Baltimore players, Alsop whipping things along with involving pace and a fine ear for detail and dynamics. © 2017 Classical Ear Read complete review

Norman Lebrecht
Musical Toronto, January 2017

What catches my ear about Marin Alsop’s new recording with the Baltimore Symphony is how strikingly it diverges from her master’s voice. In the Jeremiah symphony…the second movement is supposed to depict a barmitzvah boy reading a portion from Prophets. …Alsop, a sometime Bernstein student, ignores the synagogue context, blazing out a snappy rhythm that presages West Side Story’s catchy tunes. The finale, following the traditional trope of the Book of Lamentations, is given a similar, neutral rendition by the mezzo soloist, Jennifer Johnson Cano.

The Age of Anxiety, Bernstein’s second symphony, is an overblown piano concerto inspired by W H Auden’s eighty-page poem. Bernstein was piano soloist in the 1949 Boston world premiere, conducted by an uncomprehending Serge Koussevitzky. Many felt the piece worked better in its next guise, as a Jerome Robbins ballet. Alsop, to her credit, ignores these precedents and plays it straight. Jean-Yves Thibaudet might perhaps have made more of the big moments, but the Baltimore sound is agreeable and full of character and there are times when the work, in its 1965 revision, approaches the kind of coherence that Auden achieves in his masterwork. On balance, I find the first symphony has more to offer than the second, but Alsop gives both her best shot. © 2017 Musical Toronto Read complete review

Andrew McGregor
BBC Radio 3, January 2017

…the prominent piano part is performed enthusiastically by Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is conducted by Bernstein disciple Marin Alsop with just the right combination of understanding, affection and pizazz. © 2017 BBC Radio 3 Read complete review

Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, January 2017

It should surprise no one that Baltimore’s Marin Alsop is so perfect for conducing this music. © 2017 The Buffalo News Read complete review, January 2017

This Naxos CD certainly has some attractive elements, primarily in the playing of orchestra and the playing and singing of the solo performers… © 2017 Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2017

Marin Alsop here completes the symphony cycle by her conducting mentor, Leonard Bernstein, largely following in the footsteps of his recorded performances. She has the immediate advantage of far superior sound that can carry the pagan banality of Profanation, the high impact second movement of the First Symphony that here becomes a virtuoso showpiece for the Baltimore orchestra. The feeling of this impending brutality shows up in the hammer-like chords that punctuate the opening movement, here somewhat mollified by the following passage of tenderness scored for woodwind. His Jewish inclinations come to the fore in his setting of extracts from ‘The Lamentations of Jeremiah’, this final movement bemoaning the destruction of Jerusalem with words given to a mezzo-soprano. Some, and I would not differ, find it a strange ending that leaves one a mite disappointed. Though at the time—in 1942—it was hailed as a masterpiece, the Second Symphony, from seven years later, would be better qualified for such words. Unusual in construction, its first part cast as a prologue and fourteen variations, while the second part is in three contrasting sections, one of which can be viewed as a jazzy scherzo. The work has an important part for piano, here played with the necessary brilliance and agility by Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Neither work is overly represented in the catalogue and when linked with a previous Alsop performance of the Third Symphony, the pair make a most highly desirable part of American music in the CD catalogue. As I have already intimated the playing of the Baltimore Symphony is outstanding, and, when played at a high volume setting, the sound quality is stunning. © 2017 David’s Review Corner

David Hurwitz, January 2017

In the central Profanation movement, Alsop really does outdo Bernstein himself; the playing of the Baltimore Symphony here is sensational, and in the finale Jennifer Johnson Cano sings with great sensitivity and a beautiful tone. The tragic climaxes hit you right in the gut.

In the Second Symphony, Jean-Yves Thibaudet offers a first class account of his solo part. The Masque is especially outstanding—virtuosic but at the same time nicely “cool.” Again, I don’t think that Bernstein could have done better, and as suggested above the engineering is also rock solid and brilliant by turns. A marvelous release by any standard. © 2017 Read complete review

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