Leonard Bernstein

Bernstein: Serenade after Plato's Symposium; Fancy Free; On the Town Dance Episodes

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There's revealing diversity in these pre-'West Side Story' works of Bernstein, as well as harbingers of that landmark musical and film. Among them is the dramatic horn work in the title composition, which also certifies the classical chops and sureness in syncopation of jazz clarinetist Benny Goodman. The modernist flurries of the saxophone arrangements are evocative of the much later work by the avant-garde ROVA ensemble.

The 'Fancy Free' ballet appears along with the "Three Dance Episodes" from 'On the Town,' a 1944 show envisioned by Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins as an extension of 'Fancy Free.' The ballet (reproduced here from a monaural recording) presents a remarkable array of emotional dramas - some with Coplandesque bravado, some with Latin touches of tango and fandango, some with the sassy strut which is so Manhattan. The dances showcase Bernstein's facility at reusing and combining themes, some taken from 'On the Town's' most famous number, "New York, New York" (not to be confused with the John Kander-Fred Ebb song of the same name sung by Liza Minelli in the 1977 film "New York, New York"). The composer conducts with vigor.

By contrast, the 'Serenade' lacks the expected Bernstein lyricism and clear, tight structure, but is interesting in concept and shows off the dynamic palate and authority of violinist Zino Francescatti.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Prelude, Fugue & Riffs, for clarinet & jazz ensemble
1 01:49 Amazon
2 01:47 Amazon
3 04:14 Amazon
Dance Episodes (3) from "On the Town", for orchestra
4 01:46 Amazon
5 03:25 Amazon
6 04:42 Amazon
Serenade (after Plato: Symposium), for violin, harp, percussion & strings; also for violin & piano
7 07:03 Amazon
8 04:07 Amazon
9 01:28 Amazon
10 06:53 Amazon
11 10:54 Amazon
Fancy Free, ballet
12 02:50 Amazon
13 01:39 Amazon
14 02:59 Amazon
15 03:27 Amazon
16 03:18 Amazon
17 01:28 Amazon
18 02:38 Amazon
19 02:45 Amazon
20 04:55 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick