BERNSTEIN The 1953 American Decca Recordings 4770002

. . . the youthful vision of the 1953 performances is enormously characterful and very enjoyable . . . The American Decca account is one of unquenchable enthusiasm: the conductor's love of - and deep belief in - this symphony [Schumann's Second] is already unmistakable. The spoken musical analysis which follows the performance is a stirring defence of Schumann the symphonist: very persuasive and full of the insights that we also encounter in the playing. Much the same can be said of the other accompanying talks: they are an additional very good reason for exploring this set, which I found very rewarding despite some rather rough sound.

The performances of the up-and-coming Bernstein, though, are wonderfully intense yet controlled . . . The slow movement of the Schumann is almost overwhelmingly moving . . . Bernstein¿s flair for explaining musical technique is still unsurpassed, and his enthusiasm for the history and very stuff of these symphonies is infectious and ever fresh. Every home should have one of these.

. . . there is . . . a winning freshness and spontaneity to many of these early performances . . . (Maazel: The 1953 American Decca Recordings, Complete Early Berlin Philharmonic Recordings 1957 - 1962 )

. . . attractive five-CD set ("Leonard Bernstein: The 1953 American Decca Recordings")

. . . this is a veritable starter kit for anyone approaching classical music fresh . . . there is in fact a winning freshness and spontaneity to many of these early performances . . . It's always nice to have preconceptions shattered, and the
opportunities here are rich. ("Lorin Maazel: Complete Early Berlin Philharmonic Recordings, 1957-62")

. . . invaluable . . . Bernstein's flair for explaining musical technique is still unsurpassed, and his enthusiasm for the history and very stuff of these symphonies is infectious and ever fresh. Every home should have one of these.

Bernstein gives us a rapid, no-nonsense Brahms Fourth . . . it is convincing in its own way and enormously impressive: this is no young conductor learning his trade, this is a master musician on the podium. The Fourth was the Brahms symphony Bernstein did best throughout his career . . . The "New World" was also one of Bernstein's better fits . . . if you go for live-performance recordings, you will find a world of elation and joy.

And the performances themselves of these five works (with what was, of course, the New York Philharmonic under its summer pseudonym) are important documents providing significant and sometimes superior glosses on the conductor's later studio efforts with this repertoire . . . An especially valuable reissue.

He brings a composer's insight to the labyrinthine structure of Beethoven's "Eroica" and unpicks it with mind-boggling momentum. He injects authentic Yankee mettle into Dvorák "New World" Symphony; his Tchaikovsky "Pathétique" is riven with ambiguities. His 'at the piano' analyses of the music complete this indispensable portrait of the then 34-year-old firebrand.

Nicht nur Bernsteins Musizieren vermag nach wie vor zu fesseln; auch die verbalen Kommentare . . . haben die Zeit erstaunlich gut überdauert . . . All dies ist fast ebenso hörenswert wie seine Umsetzung dieser Werke am Dirigentenpult.

Bernstein garde en permanence l'œil sur le texte, s'enivre sans fin de musique, s'absorbe de manière parfois (déjà?) impudique dans la jouissance de l'action.

. . . leur spécificité tient aussi à une autre passion de Bernstein, la pédagogie, et, par-delà, son besoin vital et constant d'expliquer, de partager, de communiquer son amour de la musique. Chaque symphonie se retrouve ainsi accompagnée d'une véritable conférence du maestro . . .