The most popular concert staples by Leonard Bernstein are easy to count on one hand, for the Overture to Candide, the Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, and the ballet from Fancy Free were already greatest hits in his lifetime and have remained on pops programs over the ensuing years. With additional excerpts from the musical On the Town, and the Symphonic Suite from the film On the Waterfront, this album by Carl Davis and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra covers the basics and does justice to Bernstein's best-known music in instrumental arrangements that are vividly performed. One might wish that more music had been included here, because the timing at just over an hour makes the package seem a little stingy, and since this disc competes with other Bernstein compilations that offer a little more and are not necessarily restricted to orchestral music, the selections do seem a little limited. That said, Davis and the RPO give entertaining performances that are easy to like, and the audiophile recording makes the orchestra especially colorful and attractive. Anyone already familiar with Bernstein's Broadway shows and film work will recognize much of the music on this album, and it will be a good introduction for beginners, but to appreciate the full impact of his work one should explore more of his legacy than this CD offers.
AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Three Dance Variations from "Fancy Free"|
|Symphonic Dances from "West Side Story"|
|Three Dance Episodes from "On the Town"|