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Kenneth LaFave
The Arizona Republic, August 2003

"Judd conducts the Floridians in a powerful and graceful interpretation of this intense work. A symphony in name and a tone poem in its intent, Age of Anxiety also features a concerto-like solo piano part. It's played here by Brazilian Jean Louis Steuermann with nobility...The scherzo movement for piano and percussion alone is one of the greatest musical evocations of urban life ever penned; colors and light and energy in urgent profusion contend for the listener's attention. It's topped by the finale, one of those noble hymn tunes that Bernstein was so good at writing (see the main theme for On the Waterfront and the third movement of Kaddish), melodies that can make you start believing in belief...In all, this is a fine tribute to a great American composer and, alas, a fitting goodbye to yet another of our country's symphony orchestras."

James Oestreich
The New York Times, July 2003

"A recent box of CD's from the tireless label Naxos contained a new recording of Leonard Bernstein's original score for "West Side Story," with Kenneth Schermerhorn conducting the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, which has lately been riding a wave of successes. Two days later, another Naxos package produced another new recording of Bernstein, including . . . the symphonic dances from "West Side Story."

But before the eyes could glaze over completely, they caught sight of the performers, and attention had to be paid. James Judd conducts the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra, which he directed from 1985 to 2002 but which declared bankruptcy and suspended operations in May. The recording, made in 2001, is not quite a voice from the grave, since at press time a committee was still laboring to raise funds and get the orchestra back on its feet.

It is too easy, with the recent rash of closings of regional orchestras, for those of us in New York and other music capitals to overlook the magnitude of what is being lost. The Florida Philharmonic, the resident professional orchestra of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, billed itself as Florida's largest performing-arts organization. On the evidence of this recording, it was a fine group, with a bright and cohesive corporate sound. (As usual, the unevennesses and weaknesses show up most in solo passages.)

The opening "Candide" Overture is particularly poignant, for it reveals a band full of life and spirit eagerly responding to Mr. Judd's forward-leaning and even accelerating tempo. But perhaps the most valuable item here is Bernstein's Symphony No. 2, "The Age of Anxiety," a strong work -- alternately atmospheric and excitable, and ultimately carefree -- that is not overrecorded. Jean Louis Steuerman is a deft piano soloist, and the orchestra again does itself proud under Mr. Judd's steady hand.

Both new releases are part of a projected complete recording of Bernstein's music by Naxos, using several conductors and orchestras. It would be gratifying, eventually, to see the Florida Philharmonic back in the mix."

John Fleming
St. Petersburg Times

"Naxos has been busy with Bernstein. In one of the budget label's best releases, Marin Alsop conducts Great Britain's Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra in Chichester Psalms, his setting of Hebrew texts for boy treble and mixed choir. It also has a suite from his score for the movie "On the Waterfront" and three dances from his 1944 musical "On the Town."

Another recent Naxos disc is unexpectedly poignant in that it shows off how good the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra could be before money problems forced it to fold last spring. James Judd conducts the Candide overture, Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story" and Bernstein's second symphony, "The Age of Anxiety."

Bernstein is also represented in Naxos' project to capture the American Jewish experience in music, underwritten by the Milken Archive of American Jewish Music. "Leonard Bernstein: A Jewish Legacy" includes his only work written specifically for the synagogue, Hashkiveinu."


"We can only hope Volume 4 will be along very soon; because as Barry Kilpatrick expertly summed up Volume 1, !›DIf he has a good band to work with, count on Keith Brion to put an excellent Sousa recording together. The Royal Artillery Band, founded in 1762, is a very good band.'"

Edward Seckerson

"The inevitable Candide overture goes at quite a lick. So many continents. So little time. James Judd's Florida Philharmonic point and counterpoint with some aplomb and the big lyric tune is not merely glossed over but sung."

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