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Symphonic Dances - Bernstein, Rachmaninoff, Frank / Lockhart


Release Date: 04/11/2006 
Label:  Reference Recordings   Catalog #: 105   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Leonard BernsteinSergei RachmaninovGabriela Lena Frank
Performer:  Keith Lockhart
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utah Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 13 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This disc was recorded in 2004, just before Reference Recordings was inadvertently swallowed up in the Dorian Distribution Debacle, and it's very heartening to see the label up and running again. The label already has an excellent version of Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances, from Minnesota, but this one is very fine also. Keith Lockhart has the Utah players in very good form, and they deliver a particularly exciting account of the orgiastic finale. In the second-movement waltz there's no question that the strings lack the weight of tone you'll find in the best Russian performances (never mind Philadelphia), but the stellar sonics really do compensate for quite a bit in this music, and the engineering truly is stunning. Just be sure to play it Read more loud, as the Symphonic Dances, placed last in the sequence, is definitely lower in level than the two previous works.


Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story have been done to death, of course, and no one plays them as well as Bernstein himself. You won't find Lockhart cutting loose in the "Mambo" the way the composer does, but again, the musical values remain first-rate, and neither the conductor nor the orchestra puts a foot wrong.


What really distinguishes this disc, though, is the premiere recording of American (in the widest sense) composer Gabriela Lena Frank's dazzling Three Latin American Dances. This is only her second orchestral work, and what a wonderful calling card it turns out to be! She's quite honest about her influences--primarily Ginastera and Bartók--but Frank has her own style firmly in place, and the music has wit, brilliance, atmosphere, and poetry. You'll love the way the third movement of Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta "goes Latin" in Frank's nocturnal "Highland Harawi". It's an affectionate tribute of the best kind, one that sheds light on both works.


The concluding "Mestizo Waltz" ought to be a standard orchestral encore piece, and the only criticism I have is that I wish it lasted longer. If that's a fault, it's certainly one in the right direction. How splendid it is that young composers today can simply write music straight from the heart rather than having to toe some academic party line. Three Latin American Dances was written for Lockhart and the Utah Symphony, and they play it marvelously. The work makes the perfect bridge between Bernstein's jazzy opener and the darker but still very exotic-sounding Rachmaninov. So while you may have favorite recordings of the two more popular items, the presence of the Frank makes this program thoroughly recommendable on both musical and sonic grounds.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
West Side Story: Symphonic Dances by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Keith Lockhart ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utah Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1960; USA 
2.
Symphonic Dances, Op. 45 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Keith Lockhart ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utah Symphony Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1940; USA 
3.
Latin American Dances (3) by Gabriela Lena Frank
Performer:  Keith Lockhart ()
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Utah Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 

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