Notes and Editorial Reviews
Sony are now reissuing the earlier New York recordings of the Bernstein symphonies in the Bernstein Century Edition. In the case of No. 2 this is the very first (1950) mono version, with Lukas Foss as the piano soloist. Subtitled The Age of Anxiety and based on Auden's poem, this concertante work shows the composer at his most eclectic, with the stylistic contrasts emphasized by the clear, forward mono sound, the "Dirge" stridently dissonant, and the jazzy exuberance of the "Masque" contrasting boldly with the closing "Epilogue". Foss is dazzlingly idiomatic but he is too forwardly recorded; and the same has to be said of the coupled (1956) mono performance of the Serenade after Plato's "Symposium", with the violin soloist Isaac Stern on top form and naturally attuned to the score, but with the solo violin balanced way out front and the orchestral sound unrefined.
-- Ivan March, Gramophone [12/1998]