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Bernstein: Arias & Barcarolles, Etc / Kaye, Sharp


Release Date: 01/27/2009 
Label:  Koch International Classics Catalog #: 7771   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'AmbrogioJudy KayeWilliam SharpSteven Blier,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

"Arias and Barcarolles" brings together eight [songs] composed at various times and in several styles (a couple flirt with 12-tone technique); eight songs from theater pieces and "Songfest" fill out the collection. "Dream With Me," from "Peter Pan" (1950), is worth the price of the disc on its own: Bernstein's languid, bittersweet melody is one of his most haunting and memorable.

-- Allan Kozinn, New York Times


I've fallen more than a little bit in love with Arias and Barcarolles, not just the new work of that title but the whole collection of Bernstein songs wonderfully performed by Judy Kaye and William Sharp.

-- Ralph V. Lucano, FANFARE [Want
Read more List, 1990]


The songs and duets are vintage Bernstein, including four numbers from On the Town (1944): “Some Other Time“ and “Carried Away“ are duets, “Lonely Town“ is sung by Sharp, and “I Can Cook“ by Kaye. A I960 Columbia recording using several members of the original 1944 cast (Betty Comden, Adolph Green, and Nancy Walker) has been the touchstone for this music ever since; any other performers must break its spell. These performers wisely play it straight, singing simply and enunciating clearly, and slipping in an occasional operatic climax when they get carried away. The piano accompaniments also shift the balance from the musical stage toward the recital stage.

Kaye sings “A Little Bit in Love“ from Wonderful Town (1952) and “Dream With Nie,“ a soaring ballad dropped from Peter Pan before its 1950 opening. Her versatility is exemplified by those pure, silvery tones coming immediately after a racing, raucous “I Can Cook.“ The duet “Storyette, H. M.“ is from Songfest, as is “To What You Said,“ sung with simple splendor by Sharp, with a lovely cello obbligato played by Sara Sant'Ambrogio.

Arias and Barcarolles is from a far more sophisticated, world-weary (or at least love-weary) Leonard Bernstein. His melodic and rhythmic genius are wedded here to an eclectic mix of twentieth-century techniques, from Schoenberg to Ella Fitzgerald. The source of the title is well known: at a 1960 concert at the White House, President Eisenhower said to Bernstein: “I like music with a theme, not all them arias and barcarolles.“ There are eight sections; the composer supplies texts for five of them. “Prelude“ sets the tone: soprano and baritone sing simple words of love, ignoring wild, dissonant ravings from the pianos, which suggest the heavy emotional baggage carried by those words. “Love Duet“ integrates voices and instruments, but never words and meaning; clever, trivial dialog avoids the subject of love, asking meaningless questions or trying to analyze the very music they are singing. The effect is reminiscent of Glenn Gould's So You Want to Write a Fugue. “Little Smary“ is a bedtime story remembered from the composer's childhood; his mother, Jennie Bernstein, is credited with the lyrics.

Section four “The Love of my Life“ begins with a long piano introduction; when the baritone enters he sings a fractured, psychotic ditty about the presence or absence of love in his life (he cannot tell which), ending with “so that was it, huh?“ to a Tristan quotation. “Greeting“ is the only piece from the past; written in 1955 to celebrate the birth of a son to the Bernsteins, this revision has the soprano quietly and calmly celebrating the arrival of all children. “At My Wedding“ is an old Yiddish poem by Yankev Yitskhok Segal; a man recalls strange events from his wedding. “Mr. and Mrs. Webb Say Goodnight“ is a family scene in the middle of the night. The pianists sing children who won't go to sleep, while the parents cope: with the children, with the events of their daily life, with their memories, and with their love. The final “Nachtspiel“ has no text; both singers hum along to gentle, quiet music from the pianos.

So in this, his latest work, as in the recent A Quiet Place, Bernstein muses on domestic love: its victories, tragedies, confusions, avoidances, and memories. This is a first recording of the original version of Arias and Barcarolles, which was introduced by these same performers at the New York Festival of Song in September 1989. Kaye and Sharp portray all the emotions asked for, or the absence thereof, while maintaining musical quality and more civility than may be called for. Barrett and Blier go from Gerald Moore to Fats Waller to Henry Cowell, as well as singing those children; they also write detailed, intelligent notes, which are translated into German and French. Complete English texts are given for the new work, and the Yiddish song is also translated into English. Fine recording rounds out a fascinating disc, a notable kickoff for this new record label.

-- James H. North, FANFARE [7/1990] Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
On the Town: Some other time by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Language: English 
2.
Wonderful Town: A little bit in love by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1952; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 50 Secs. 
Language: English 
3.
On the Town: Lonely town by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 30 Secs. 
Language: English 
4.
Songfest: Storyette, H.M. by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: English 
5.
Songfest: To What You Said by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 5 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: English 
6.
On the Town: I get carried away by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 3 Minutes 7 Secs. 
Language: English 
7.
On the Town: I can cook too by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
Language: English 
8.
Peter Pan: Dream with me by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Sara Sant'Ambrogio (Cello), Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone),
Steven Blier (Piano), Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1950; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 4 Minutes 23 Secs. 
Language: English 
9.
Arias and Barcarolles by Leonard Bernstein
Performer:  Judy Kaye (Soprano), William Sharp (Baritone), Steven Blier (Piano),
Michael Barrett (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1988; USA 
Date of Recording: 09/1989 
Venue:  Astoria, NY 
Length: 31 Minutes 3 Secs. 
Language: English 

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