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BERNSTEIN, L.: Symphony No. 3, "Kaddish" / Missa Brevis / The Lark (Washington Chorus, São Paulo Symphony Chorus, Baltimore Symphony, Alsop)


Naxos 8.559742

   Fanfare, May 2016
   Musical Toronto, March 2016
   Bay Area Reporter, December 2015
   Cinemusical, December 2015
   Infodad.com, December 2015
   ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2015
   The Baltimore Sun, November 2015
   MusicWeb International, November 2015
   MusicWeb International, November 2015
   Pizzicato, October 2015
   The Classical Reviewer, October 2015
   Gramophone, October 2015
   The Arts Desk, September 2015
   The Guardian, September 2015
   My Classical Notes, September 2015
   David's Review Corner, September 2015

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Jerry Dubins
Fanfare, May 2016

…Marin Alsop makes a very persuasive case for the original work. Under her baton, the Baltimore Symphony realizes Bernstein’s extraordinary orchestral effects in ways that will both scarify you and tug at your heartstrings; and while the text is still the embarrassment it always was, narrator Claire Bloom delivers it as if it were Shakespearian prose. She believes in the part and gives it a powerful reading. Soprano Kelley Nassief will melt your heart in her “Kaddish 2” movement solo, and both the boy and adult choirs are superb. …a fantastic performance and a spectacular recording.

Very strongly recommended. © 2016 Fanfare Read complete review



Paul E. Robinson
Musical Toronto, March 2016

Brazilian countertenor Paolo Mestre is very impressive in his solo work, and the São Paulo Symphonic Choir produces a forceful but well-blended sound. © 2016 Musical Toronto Read complete review



Tim Pfaff
Bay Area Reporter, December 2015

Alsop, with her Baltimore Symphony and three choirs, gives a strong, unapologetic performance of great clarity and commendable ensemble. Her grasp of the whole of Bernstein’s opus allows the “Broadway” music more conspicuous prominence than it had in Bernstein’s own first recording… © 2015 Bay Area Reporter Read complete review




Steven A. Kennedy
Cinemusical, December 2015

The performance here is equally intense and quite convincing. Claire Bloom’s narration helps set the perfect tone here. The dramatic interpretation works quite well against Bernstein’s musical essay. Kelly Nassief’s solo is equally beautiful. © 2015 Cinemusical Read complete review



Infodad.com, December 2015

Claire Bloom is an effective narrator, and the solo and choral elements of the symphony are well handled here, with the music feelingly played by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. © 2015 Infodad.com Read complete review



Robert Benson
ClassicalCDReview.com, December 2015

Marin Alsop again shows her affinity for music of Leonard Bernstein with this new Naxos issue in their American Classics series… Engineering is first-class vividly capturing the many percussive effects. © 2015 ClassicalCDReview.com Read complete review



Tim Smith
The Baltimore Sun, November 2015

…showing off the ensemble’s technical and expressive qualities to keen effect. Alsop leads both intriguing scores sensitively, drawing fine work from Brazilian musicians… © 2015 The Baltimore Sun Read complete review



Nick Barnard
MusicWeb International, November 2015

…[Missa Brevis] is skilfully concentrated and impressive writing. It shows that Bernstein the composer could write tightly organised and effective music. Paulo Mestre is the impressive counter-tenor with a very pure and unaffected singing style that suits the music well.

…the singing of the Brazilian choir is quite excellent—idiomatic and dramatic—all recorded in excellent vibrant sound… Ms Bloom’s narration is again a model of insight and restraint—beautifully judged and in no sense is there any anachronism in an actress of more than eighty speaking the words of a young French maid. © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review



Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, November 2015

Claire Bloom speaks the narration beautifully on the new recording…

…the mixture of rustic-medieval and Bernstein’s typically bouncy rhythms in these works is very attractive… © 2015 MusicWeb International Read complete review




Remy Franck
Pizzicato, October 2015

Marin Alsop, once a Bernstein protégé, conducts a coherent program of some of his choral works, delivering an incisive and brilliant account of the Third Symphony in its original version. With her sensitive and expressive voice, Claire Bloom achieves to give the long spoken text a new quality. © 2015 Pizzicato



Bruce Reader
The Classical Reviewer, October 2015

Marin Alsop and her forces reveal the Kaddish Symphony to be a much finer work than it has been given credit for. Certainly is often very moving. Claire Bloom delivers the demanding texts most impressively with Alsop and her forces bringing a formidable dramatic and emotional thrust.

This is an excellent performance all round. © 2015 The Classical Reviewer Read complete review



Edward Seckerson
Gramophone, October 2015

Symphony No 3, Kaddish, is…recorded here in a performance of great conviction from Marin Alsop, with the wonderful Claire Bloom achieving a happy medium between the declamatory and the confidential. © 2015 Gramophone Read complete review on Gramophone



Graham Rickson
The Arts Desk, September 2015

…this disc is superb. Claire Bloom’s narration is beautifully assimilated into the sound picture. The orchestral playing is razor-sharp, the chorus outstanding. Naxos’s recording has the requisite depth and range. © 2015 The Arts Desk Read complete review




Erica Jeal
The Guardian, September 2015

Alsop gets colour and intensity from the orchestra… © 2015 The Guardian Read complete review



Hank Zauderer
My Classical Notes, September 2015

Marin Alsop was a Bernstein protégé…and few conductors today understand his music better than Ms. Alsop. © 2015 My Classical Notes Read complete review



David Denton
David's Review Corner, September 2015

By using a female narrator, Marin Alsop places on disc the original 1963 score of the Third Symphony from her inspirational conducting mentor, Leonard Bernstein. He was later to revise that original work by changing the narrator’s words so that a male could assume that role. In Alsop’s words it was ‘a terrible idea’, while at the same time he shortened the score’s length by overlaying music with the narrator’s words, rather than using them to punctuate the work. It was in that later version that Bernstein recorded the symphony in 1977, and which has stood as a benchmark. Taken from two concert performances in Baltimore, Alsop chose Claire Bloom, one of the most famous stage and film actresses for that crucial role. I don’t know how she came over in the concert hall, for here she has her own microphone, her supplication to her creator far more moving than in the revised version, and in a different league altogether to the overstated projection of Michael Wager in Bernstein’s recording. You can also compare this new release with Bernstein’s later score in the fine Naxos recording from Gerard Schwarz and his Liverpool orchestra (8.559456). Alsop is explosive in the agonised outbursts, the soprano, Kelly Nassief, soaring on high as the soloist in the Kaddish prayer that features in each of the work’s three movements. The only possible conclusion you can draw after hearing the disc, is that this version of the score has to be the one passed down to posterity. Eight years earlier Bernstein was asked to provide incidental music to a new production of Jean Anouilh’s play on the life of Joan of Arc. He called it ‘The Lark’, and in this ‘Concert Version’ the music is interspersed with Joan’s words. Thirty-three years later he returned to that score for the six sections of his Missa Brevis, a short work intended for liturgical use. For these last two works Alsop returns to her São Paulo forces, the Symphony Choir a classy outfit and more than a match for the world’s finest choral groups. Very good sound, and a release I beg you not to miss. © 2015 David’s Review Corner





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