Bernstein: West Side Story / Schermerhorn, Nashville Symphony

Release Date: 10/22/2002
Label: Naxos
Catalog Number: 8559126
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1

Physical Format:

CD
In Stock
$11.99
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This new West Side Story, the first American-based recording to appear since DG's star-studded 1985 composer-conducted version, blessedly avoids that earlier production's operatic pretensions, returning instead to the work's Broadway roots by using young, theatrically trained singers with some genuine acting ability. Even with that, it's probably wishful thinking to expect that this cast (fine as it is) can recreate the vibrant, raw freshness and scintillating brilliance of the original. Mike Eldred's Tony comes off best; singing with a more mature sound than Larry Kert, he nonetheless creates a sense of heightened expectancy and wonder in "Something's Coming". As Maria, Betsi Morrison struggles to maintain an authentic-sounding Puerto Rican accent, but she sings beautifully throughout, especially in "Tonight" and "I Have a Love". I'm afraid Marianne Cook's Anita is no match for Chita Rivera's, but she communicates the character's feelings convincingly enough. The remainder of the ensemble consists of good, solid, legit voices, but a lot has changed on Broadway since 1957: the overall style of singing, with its occasionally overemphatic declamation (as in "A Boy Like That" and "Cool") makes clear how years of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals have influenced American performers.


This recording utilizes Bernstein's score in its original form, before it underwent the necessary revisions to make it more suitable to the needs of musical theater at the time. Actually, it sounds pretty much the same, the most obvious distinctions being a few missing bars near the end of the Prologue and the different vocal arrangement for "America".


Kenneth Schermerhorn was studying with Bernstein during the creation of West Side Story and briefly was considered as a possible conductor for the premiere. Finally getting his chance nearly 50 years later, Schermerhorn conducts the score with an authority and enthusiasm that reveals his intimate knowledge and personal conviction, even if at times his tempos drag (as in "I feel pretty" and "Gee Officer Krupke"), though not as much as the elderly Bernstein's. Then there's the somewhat obsessive concern with full note values at the expense of rhythmic flow (as in the "Jet Song", and in "Quintet", with its heavy articulation on the word "tonight") that occasionally robs the music of its spontaneity.


Throughout, the Nashville Symphony plays with an ideal blend of symphonic elegance and jazzy swagger that shows why this work is such a wonderful classic. Only the multimiked and obviously studio-bound recording, with its artificially close voices, slightly disappoints. Yet despite this and the above-noted concerns, this production faithfully recreates the magical and enthralling world that is West Side Story, and anyone coming to this piece afresh is in for a rare and special experience. [11/4/2002]
--Victor Carr Jr, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
1. West Side Story by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Betsi Morrison (Voice), Mike Eldred (Voice), Michael San Giovanni (Voice), Marianne Cooke (Voice), Robert Dean (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
2. West Side Story: Prologue by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
3. West Side Story: Jet song by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Robert Dean (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
4. West Side Story: Something's coming by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
5. West Side Story: Blues by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
6. West Side Story: Promenade by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
7. West Side Story: Mambo by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
8. West Side Story: Maria by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
9. West Side Story: Tonight by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Mike Eldred (Voice), Michael San Giovanni (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
10. West Side Story: America by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Joanna Chozen (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
11. West Side Story: Cool by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Robert Dean (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
12. West Side Story: One hand, one heart by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
13. West Side Story: Rumble by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
14. West Side Story: I feel pretty by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Betsi Morrison (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
15. West Side Story: Ballet music by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
16. West Side Story: Transition to Scherzo by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
17. West Side Story: Scherzo by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
18. West Side Story: Somewhere by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Michelle Prentice (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
19. West Side Story: Gee, Officer Krupke by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
20. West Side Story: A boy like that/I have a love by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Marianne Cooke (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
21. West Side Story: Taunting Scene by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
22. West Side Story: Finale by Leonard Bernstein
Performer: Mike Eldred (Voice), Betsi Morrison (Voice)
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
23. West Side Story: Procession and Nightmare by Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Nashville Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1957 ; USA
Customer Reviews