“La Valse” by Maurice Ravel, Played by the Orchestre National de France, Conducted by Leonard Bernstein

I haven’t got the date for this concert but Bernstein’s hair is silvery so I’ll guess it’s from the late 80s.

Ravel described his work:

Through whirling clouds, waltzing couples may be faintly distinguished. The clouds gradually scatter: one sees at letter A an immense hall peopled with a whirling crowd. The scene is gradually illuminated. The light of the chandeliers bursts forth at the fortissimo letter B. Set in an imperial court, about 1855.”

Bernstein La Valse.jpg

Bonny John conducted this very piece about two weeks ago at his old school, the Royal College of Music, and spoke about Ravel (as well as Ralph Vaughan Williams) in this podcast. He said “La Valse” is about social disintegration. O-kay…

Thanks to Mark Doran for pointing me to his posting comparing Ravel’s piano score of “La Valse” to his, Ravel’s, own orchestration. Part 2 to follow…

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The Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein, Conducted by Bernstein, Played by the NY Philharmonic, 8 Jan 1961

On a happier note: Here’s “Overtures and Preludes”, episode 1 of season 4 of the Young People’s Concerts (which I remember watching new!). This one particular playing—at this particular time and place—with this particular freshness and energy—is my standard against which all other Candide Overtures that ever were or ever will be are judged.

Bernstein Candide.jpg

Bernstein’s On the Town, Performed at the BBC Proms by the LSO, Conducted by John Wilson

The on-demand streamcast (starting tonight commemorating Bernstein’s 100th birthday and continuing through 24 September) on BBC3 was actually pretty good—straightforwardly sung, acted and played; no John going meshugenah with the tempi like he did two weeks ago with his own orchestra’s “concert” version of West Side Story. (In contrast, you do not mess around with the London Symphony Orchestra.) And is that the venerable UK-based American actor Kerry Shale doing the narrating?

John Wilson On the Town 2.JPG

As it was in West Side Story two weeks ago, I am theorizing that the terrifying foot-stomping in the audience that occurred when my lovely John stepped forward to take his bow at the end was started by fellow classmates of the youth chorus onstage and not a biker gang.

Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story Performed Mostly by The John Wilson Orchestra, Conducted by John Wilson

Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday celebrated at the Royal Albert Hall, BBC Proms 39, 11 August 2018. Audiocast on BBC3 Radio on demand till 10 September.

John Wilson West Side Story

A CONVERSATION WITH LEONARD BERNSTEIN, INSPIRED BY BERNSTEIN’S CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE WASHINGTON IN THE INFINITE VARIETY OF MUSIC

Bernstein enters fantasy box above the orchestra, sits besides Cantara.

CANTARA Mr Bernstein!

BERNSTEIN Shhh. Lenny.

CANTARA Lenny then. (gestures to stage) What do you think?

BERNSTEIN (Sucking in breath; grimly) …Ah.

[MORE LATER]

Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Conducted by Leonard Bernstein, BBC1 22 January 1967

Performed at the 1800-seat Fairfield Halls in Croydon. If you look fast you’ll notice 2nd violins leader Sir Neville Marriner (at the time former professor at the Royal College of Music, recent founder of the chamber orchestra St Martin in the Fields, and to-be music director of the Minnesota Orchestra). Note that touching moment at the end when the members of the LSO refuse to rise, at Bernstein’s insistence, for the applause of the audience, instead remaining seated and applauding Bernstein themselves. Now that’s respect.

Bernstein Stravinsky

Just a passing insight, but as I watched this clip again recently it struck me that this history-making performance may quite likely represent the ultimate secret aspiration of my bonny, my darling, my beloved John Wilson. Oh laddie. You’ll get there.