On March 31, a lavish new box set from Sony Classical will celebrate the legacy of one of America’s greatest composers – the late Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990). The LP-sized Leonard Bernstein: The Composer contains 25 CDs of the maestro’s most enduring compositions including his Broadway musicals, all of the original stereo “Bernstein Conducts Bernstein” recordings made for Columbia Masterworks, new compilations, and more. Nine discs have been newly remastered from the first-generation analog master tapes.
The Composer follows previous box sets dedicated to Bernstein’s considerable recorded output, including Sony Classical’s Symphony Edition, a 60-CD set from 2010 primarily presenting his symphonic recordings with The New York Philharmonic during his time as the orchestra’s conductor, and 2014’s 80-CD Concertos and Orchestral Works, rounding up every remaining orchestral album from his CBS/Columbia period. The Composer has a more limited scope than those two projects, concentrating on Bernstein’s Columbia recordings of his own seminal works for the ballet and theatre stage, and the concert hall. The discs appear to bear replicated original labels, and a book puts everything in context.
All of the stereo “Bernstein Conducts Bernstein” recordings have been newly remixed from the original multi-track tapes for this set. Three CDs comprise a selection of Bernstein’s songs, and chamber and piano works, performed by renowned artists such as Harolyn Blackwell, Marilyn Horne, Frederica Von Stade, Joshua Bell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Wynton Marsalis. The Canadian Brass’ original Plays Bernstein album is included in full, as is Blackwell’s A Simple Song recital disc.
Twelve CDs (including a compilation) are devoted to Bernstein’s theatre works. Two recordings of Candide (the 1956 stereo original Broadway cast and the 1973 revival) are here, and two of West Side Story (the 1957 Broadway cast and the 1961 film version, the latter in its 19-track iteration from 2004). The set also features Bernstein’s studio recording of On the Town in expanded form, his little-known 1950 Broadway version of Peter Pan, the 1958 television cast recording of Wonderful Town starring Rosalind Russell, the opera Trouble in Tahiti, and song cycle Mass. The 1988 CD compilation The Bernstein Songbook (with many tracks found elsewhere on the box) has also been included.
A new 2-CD compilation included in the box is sure to be of interest to jazz fans. Bernstein in Jazz features Bernstein’s beloved theatre songs such as “Maria,” “Tonight,” “America,” and “Lonely Town” reinterpreted by such diverse luminaries as The Dave Brubeck Quartet, The Aaron Bell Trio, trombonist J.J. Johnson, the Marsalis family, saxophonist Gerry Mulligan, pianist Martial Solal, clarinetist Richard Stoltzman (with Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd), pianist André Previn (with drummer Shelly Manne and bassist Red Mitchell), vibraphonist Gary Burton, and pianist Eldar Djangirov.
You can view the full track listing for the box at the Amazon U.K. link below. Leonard Bernstein – The Composer is due in the U.S. on March 31, while it’s slated to arrive earlier – March 3 – in the U.K.! You can pre-order below.
CD 1: Symphonic Dances from West Side Story/Symphonic Suite from On the Waterfront (Columbia MS 6251, 1961)
CD 2: Kaddish, Symphony No. 3 (Columbia KS 6605, 1963)
CD 3: Fancy Free/Overture to Candide/Three Dance Episodes from On the Town/Prelude, Fugue and Riffs (Columbia MS 6677, 1966)
CD 4: Chichester Psalms/Facsimile (Columbia MS 6792, 1965)
CD 5: The Age of Anxiety, Symphony No. 2/Serenade After Plato’s “Symposium” (Columbia MS 6885, 1966)
CDs 6-7: Mass – A Theatre Piece for Singers, Players and Dancers (Columbia M2 31008, 1971)
CD 8: Dybbuk – Complete Ballet (Columbia M 33082, 1974)
CD 9: Jeremiah, Symphony No. 1/I Hate Music/La Bonne Cuisine/Afterthought/Seven Anniversaries (compilation first released on CD as Sony Classical SMK 60697, 1999)
CD 10: On the Town: Studio Cast Recording (expanded edition of Columbia OS 2028, 1960, with material included on CK 2038, 1988 and SK 60538, 1998)
CD 11: Peter Pan: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Columbia ML 4312, 1950)
CD 12: Trouble in Tahiti (Columbia KM 32597, 1974)
CD 13: Wonderful Town: 1958 Television Cast Recording (Columbia OS 2008, 1958)
CD 14: Candide: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Columbia OS 2350, 1963 – rec. 1956)
CD 15-16: Candide: Broadway Revival Cast Recording (Columbia S2X 32923, 1974)
CD 17: West Side Story: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Columbia OS 2001, 1957)
CD 18: West Side Story: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Expanded Edition (expanded edition of Columbia OS 2070, 1961 – reissued Sony Classical SK 89226, 2004)
CD 19: The Bernstein Songbook (CBS MK 44760, 1988)
CD 20: Songfest (conducted by Leonard Slatkin) (RCA 61581, 1992)
CD 21: Harolyn Blackwell, Blackwell Sings Bernstein: A Simple Song (RCA 09026 68321-2, 1996)
CD 22: Chamber and Concert Music (new compilation of tracks rec. between 1993 and 2016)
CD 23: The Canadian Brass Plays Bernstein (BMG Classics 09026 68633-2, 1997)
CD 24 & 25: Bernstein in Jazz (new compilation)
CDs 1-8 and 11 have been newly remastered from the original analog master tapes.