The music of Leonard Bernstein is enjoying a vogue in Europe, becoming perhaps even more common than in his native U.S, and that's leading to innovative program pairings that Americans may not have thought of. One attraction here is the passionate defense of both these works by Dutch violinist Liza Ferschtman, who gives them her all and emerges with excellent results. Both pieces took critical fire when they appeared and for some decades afterward, but they have reemerged and grown in popularity as modernist strictures have eased. They work quite well together, for both are "crossover" works of the best kind. Erich Korngold's Violin Concerto, Op. 35, was written at the end of the Second World War as the composer sought to return to the concert hall after a decade in Hollywood. The work was savaged critically in spite of (or perhaps because of) being a real crowd-pleaser, overflowing with melody. Korngold bridges the gap between concert music and film music, straightforwardly quoting some of his own scores, and this is artfully done in such a way as to impress upon the listener the similarities and differences between the requirements of the two languages. But the Bernstein Serenade (After Plato: "Symposium") is a greater highlight: Ferschtman gives Plato's meditations on love a real edge that Bernstein would have admired, and she catches Bernstein's way of adding jazz flavors without making the work a jazz score (sample the final "Socrates," one of several points where the work seems to have specific references to Plato despite Bernstein's demurrals in this regard. Recommended.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Violin Concerto, Op. 35|
|Serenade after Plato's "Symposium"|