Leonard Bernstein, BERNSTEIN: Symphony No 1 / Concerto for Orchestra

Anastasia Tsioulcas

By Anastasia Tsioulcas

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Most Bernstein fans will be well acquainted with the composer's own recording of the First Symphony. However, this version by conductor James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, joined by mezzo-soprano Helen Medlyn, simply demands to be heard; Judd's color, precision and snap are as dazzling as they are audacious. Here, it's paired with Bernstein's last major orchestral work, the Concerto for Orchestra. Written between 1986 and 1989, it's a loving exploration of Jewish themes, from Biblical texts to the spirit of Eastern European klezmer music.