Leonard Bernstein

Milhaud: La Création du monde; Le Beouf sur le toit; Saudades do Brasil

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Milhaud: La Création du monde; Le Beouf sur le toit; Saudades do Brasil Review

by Blair Sanderson

Leonard Bernstein's 1976 recordings with the Orchestre National de France of Darius Milhaud's jazz-age ballets La création du monde and Le boeuf sur le toit, along with the suite Saudades do Brasil, are the featured selections on this EMI reissue, and listeners seeking engaging performances of these works will find fine results here. This is the kind of accessible and vibrant modern music that Bernstein usually brought off with panache, and these works are, for all practical purposes, Milhaud's greatest hits, because of their fame, infectious tunefulness, and flamboyant colors. Unfortunately, the sound quality of these ADD recordings is a little flat and tinny by contemporary standards, and the tone of the orchestra is not as warm as it should be in these humid, tropically flavored works; one has to wonder how much fuller and richer the sound would have been with some judicious remastering. But with a little adjustment of levels and attentive listening for details, these performances are pleasant and quite satisfactory at the modest reissue price. Collectors of historic recordings should note this disc's filler, Milhaud's own take of Saudades do Brasil, performed with insouciance by the Concert Arts Orchestra. This 1954 monaural recording has rather obvious acoustic problems, and the sensitive listener may flinch at some of the slightly out-of-tune playing. Even so, this is a really lively rendition, full of Milhaud's wit and ebullience, and as far as vintage recordings go, this one is surprisingly enjoyable, even with its flaws.

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