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In the year of Leonard Bernsteins centenary, Sony Classical is pleased to present the perfect introduction to this legendary American musician. Many of the conductor-composers most celebrated interpretations and works are sampled here, every track chosen to display a facet of his unparalleled dynamism and versatility. There is music by Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms, Mahler, Shostakovich and Copland, with great soloists like clarinettist Benny Goodman and mezzo Frederica von Stade, violinists Joshua Bell and Zino Francescatti, pianists Glenn Gould and Philippe Entremont, not to mention Bernstein himself playing and conducting Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue. Writing about these benchmark 1960s and 1970s New York interpretations, The Guardians reviewer declared: Theres a raw ebullience to the performances that is typical of Bernstein at his best They are all historic performances. Bernstein the composer is represented also. Few composers capture their time and become the iconic voice of their age, wrote conductor John Mauceri, in a tribute to his late mentor. In addition to highlights from concert works such as the Age of Anxiety, Serenade and Mass, there are selections from Bernsteins ballets and musicals, including excerpts from the original Broadway cast recording of West Side Story from 1957 as well as his later New York Philharmonic recording of the Symphonic Dances. Bernsteins friend and colleague, composer Ned Rorem, summed up Leonard Bernsteins achievement admirably when he said in 1987: If he were not a composer he would not be the worlds best conductor. Alone among conductors he knows that the essence of music is not what it sounds like, but what the sounds are intended to communicate. Since he too is a composer, he knows that the magic lies not in the communication of sound, but in the sound of communication.

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