Classical Music Home

Welcome to Naxos Records

Keyword Search
 Classical Music Home > Naxos Album Reviews

Album Reviews

See latest reviews of other albums...

Tom Samiljan
New York Magazine, May 2004

"Alsop is more than just another Lenny acolyte: The principal conductor of the excellent Bournemouth Symphony is the first woman to lead a major U.K. orchestra and already has several highly praised recordings under her belt, including Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, recently released on Naxos. Those are significant accomplishments in any career, but they're even more impressive in a field that, to this day, remains primarily a boys' club."

Mark Kanny
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, March 2004

"Marin Alsop, who makes her Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra debut next season, is one of America's most promising younger conductors -- who happens to be a woman. Her newest recording is of music by Leonard Bernstein, who was a mentor to her. Alsop leads the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, securing highly idiomatic performances from the English musicians. The new version of "Chichester Psalms" is bold but also spiritually sensitive...The excellently recorded Naxos disc begins with the Symphonic Suite from the film "On the Waterfront" and, like the rest of the album, shows Alsop is indisputably a contender."

William Dart
The New Zealand Herald, February 2004

"Never fear, a Naxos revival is afoot, spearheaded by Marin Alsop's superb Chichester Psalms."

Steven Suskin
Playbill, January 2004

"The Chichester Psalms is the marquee attraction on this disc, from the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Marin Alsop...The album is rounded out with the familiar "Three Dance Episodes" from On the Town, but it is the "On the Waterfront" suite that is most striking. This CD, on the low-price Naxos label, is an easy choice for Bernstein fans."

Marc Shulgold
Rocky Mountain News, October 2003

"Denver concert audiences have long been enjoying the talents of one of his protegees, Marin Alsop. Her easy way of talking music with Colorado Symphony audiences comes directly from Lenny's gift for communicating. And her approach to leading American music mirrors his ability to swing as only a Yankee can.

Further proof of Alsop's way with his music comes via a new recording on Naxos' "American Classics" series, a Bernstein disc marking Alsop's debut with her English orchestra, the Bournemouth Symphony.

The disc is a daring program that mixes the sacred (Chichester Psalms) with the profane (On the Waterfront symphonic suite and Three Dance Episodes from On the Town). Superb work from Alsop, the Bournemouth chorus and orchestra, plus a quintet of vocal soloists led by treble (boy soprano) Thomas Kelly, bring to life all of the many moods that pop up in Bernstein's music: jazzy swing, heart-on-sleeve tenderness, unstoppable energy and total joy.

This sunny disc is just another piece of evidence that Alsop's star continues to shoot above the world's musical landscape."

Anthony Tommasini
The New York Times, October 2003

"Leonard Bernstein left behind an invaluable catalog of recordings of his major works. But his chronic insecurity about his composing skills sometimes led him to oversell his own music in performance. So it's good to have a new Naxos recording with Marin Alsop conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in sensitive, exciting, and impressively lucid performances of three Bernstein works: the Symphonic Suite from "On the Waterfront," "Chichester Psalms" and Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town."

In the "Chichester Psalms," of 1965, Bernstein tried to evoke the modal heritage of sacred music as inflected by the modern rhythms of jazz. Ms. Alsop has such long experience as a jazz performer that she captures the music's rhythmic swing without making it obvious. You almost forget the jazz influence as you get caught up in what comes across as a wistfully contemporary sacred work. In the richly chromatic settings of verses from Psalms 2 and 23, Thomas Kelly, a fine boy soprano, sings the dreamy melodic line with angelic radiance but bends the "blue notes" ever so slightly, like a veteran jazz singer. Ms. Alsop's powerful though never aggressive account of the angst-ridden finale (a setting of Psalms 131 and 133) makes the music seem an astringently dissonant yet stubbornly tonal chorale.

The Bournemouth Symphony, in technically adept, bracing performances, plays like a top-notch orchestra. Sexism still affects the world of conducting. How else to explain why Ms. Alsop's name didn't even surface in the deliberations that brought new conductors to several major American orchestras in recent years? She will appear with the New York Philharmonic in May to conduct (guess what) Bernstein's "Candide."

Clarke Bustard
Richmond Times-Dispatch

"A better investment would be a new disc of "Chichester Psalms," the "On the Waterfront" Symphonic Suite and "Three Dance Episodes from 'On the Town," featuring the Bernstein protegee Marin Alsop, her new orchestra, Britain's Bournemouth Symphony, its chorus and soloists.

Alsop's immersion in the American musical idiom - so much like Bernstein's own - makes her the ideal interpreter of this composer's works. Her jazzy rhythmic touch is especially welcome in the "On the Town" set."

David Patrick Stearns
The Philadelphia Inquirer

"[Marin Alsop's] typecasting as an interpreter of the American symphonists is warranted. When she conducts three dance episodes from Leonard Bernstein's On the Town on her latest CD, you hear the brassy Broadway side of the music but also something deeper - the bluesy loneliness of urban alienation, a musical counterpart to an Edward Hopper cityscape."

James Jolly(Editor)

"Alsop's devotion to the music of our time is one of her strengths, and her ability to assimilate complex new scores quickly makes her a good ally to the composer whose music is being heard for the first time. Of her many recordings, I love her Bernstein disc with the Bournemouth orchestra - together they really conjure up Bernstein's New York in all its colour and they really swing!"

Kyle MacMillan
Denver Post

"Alsop shows herself to be a worthy Bernstein protegee with her fresh, insightful takes on three of the composer's most widely known works. This recording captures the potency of emotions in the opening section of the "Psalms' as well as the swinging, infectious ebullience of "On the Town.' TOP 10 CLASSICAL MUSIC CDs/DVDs."


"Alsop's passion, generosity and disregard of barriers bring to mind Bernstein, with whom she studied at Tanglewood, and they promise to serve her well in "Candide." "She giggles at the idea advanced by some British critics that her being American might account for the distinctive pulse and vitality of her conducting, as in her recent Naxos disc of Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" and suites from "On the Town" and "On the Waterfront." "I know a lot of Americans with very poor rhythm," she says."

Lawrence A. Johnson
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"One of the best recordings of Leonard Bernstein's music in years...Marin Alsop's idiomatic touch and clear empathy for her mentor's music is manifest on this recent is the performance of the Chichester Psalms that makes this disc a must-buy...Alsop's disc is essential for all Bernstein fans."

Richard Dyer
The Boston Globe

"Leonard Bernstein, the protean composer and conductor who died in 1990, has never been in danger of being forgotten by the recording industry. His legacy -- from his own Broadway musicals "On the Town" and "West Side Story" to performances of Mahler symphonies in the 1960s, which helped move the composer into classical music's mainstream -- was simply too important to fade away. But with the arrival of what would have been his 85th birthday last month, Bernstein reissues are coming in all sizes and shapes¡Kfor those whose pocketbook or emotional preference dictates modest hugs rather than total embrace, a new all- Bernstein CD by England's Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by its American principal conductor, Marin Alsop, will be a better fit.

Bernstein was a mentor to Alsop, who has won raves during the past year in her first season as Bournemouth's new musical chief. Any young conductor would have treasured an approving nod from the charismatic Lenny, but for a woman like Alsop trying to break into conducting's virtually all-male ranks, it was especially important.

She returns the favor in this all-Bernstein disc featuring the "Chichester Psalms," commissioned in 1965 by England's Chichester Cathedral, a suite from Bernstein's score for the 1954 Elia Kazan movie "On the Waterfront" and three dance episodes from his 1944 musical "On the Town." With ethereal but solid solos from boy soprano Thomas Kelly, and the symphony's fine chorus, "Chichester Psalms" is delicately shaped. The suite from "On the Waterfront" has sultry weight, while the dances from "On the Town" are as effervescent as Gene Kelly's grin."

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine

"The results are generally successful, with the orchestra and chorus nimble and incisive in the first psalm and the forceful interruption to the second, and expressive without being sentimental in the lovely winding lines of the last."

P Serotsky

"Alsop chose her debut recording as the BSO's new principal conductor as the proper moment to pay tribute to her personal hero. It was a noble gesture, happily backed up by splendid, authoritative and above all thoroughly entertaining performances, a cake with lashings icing courtesy of one of Naxos's finest recordings. "Chichester Psalms", rightly the centrepiece of the programme, is an absolute treasure."

Wynne Delacoma
Chicago Sun-Times

"With ethereal but solid solos from boy soprano Thomas Kelly, and the symphony's fine chorus, "Chichester Psalms" is delicately shaped. The suite from "On the Waterfront" has sultry weight, while the dances from "On the Town" are as effervescent as Gene Kelly's grin."

Warwick Thompson
Classic FM

"This recording of the Psalms and On the Town dances are clear and polished accounts...Alsop draws some fine solos from the orchestra."

Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group