As a longtime protégé of Leonard Bernstein, Marin Alsop has recognized her unique position to continue his mission to change lives through educating people about music, and she has shown a special commitment to performing his works, keeping his legacy alive and relevant. Anticipating the Bernstein centennial in 2018, Alsop has released a series of recordings of the major works for Naxos, including the Chichester Psalms, Mass, the Serenade after Plato's Symposium, the three symphonies, and various orchestral works derived from the musicals, all to find a place in a box set of the complete recordings. Not to be overlooked is this 2018 collection with the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, featuring the Overture to Candide (1956), the ballet Fancy Free (1944), Anniversaries (1946-89), and the Overture to Wonderful Town (1953), which reveal Bernstein's vivacious personality and eclectic musical character in colorful and readily digestible pieces. While the lasting value of Bernstein's large-scale compositions is still debated, and listeners are sometimes unprepared to take on the philosophical aspects of his heavier works, the tuneful pieces on this CD are immediately appealing and extremely memorable, particularly the Overture to Candide, which, more than any of Bernstein's concert staples, became his calling card. The world premiere recording of Garth Edwin Sunderland's orchestration of Anniversaries is perhaps less engaging and infectious, and though the originals for piano are generally quite intimate and subdued, this orchestral version has the potential to be programmed regularly.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Anniversaries for orchestra|