Sunday, 16 May 2010

EVENSONG: CARRERAS, I'LL NEVER STOP SAYING CARRERAS.

For the first time Leonard Bernstein conducts his composition, West Side Story, with an ensemble of prima donnas; the whole thing is fascinating;, jubilant Americana, brassy and swaggering, wonderful. It's all on YouTube.

Bestemmia di Carreras...

5 comments:

Squitch said...

I hope the camera is there on the day some once-too-often-humiliated singer jams that little stick right up Bernstein's arrogant arse.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Squidge, I have to side with Bernstein on this one - the first real problem was Bernstein's previous written instruction/alteration not getting through to Carreras (which would have annoyed any conductor), and the second was when Carreras just stopped singing in a 'take' which Bernstein, and presumably the Recording Manager, clearly felt was going well. Carreras should have carried on and requested another 'take' if he was not quite happy at that point.

There is always a delicious three way tension in this type of recording session between all the playing and singing Artists, the Conductor and the Recording Manager: everyone really wants perfection, because recordings, unlike concerts, are heard over and over again. But, there are only a strictly limited number of minutes in which to get the whole work in the can; if the very last session needs even just a few more minutes, every single artist would have to be agreeable and available (which is very unlikely) to be called for another whole recording session - no one messes with Musicians' Unions! Yes, the last twenty minutes of a series of recording sessions can get quite interesting.

In 1972, Bernstein conducted our chorus in a performance of Stravinsky's 'Symphony of Psalms', and I have to say that he treated us, as amateur singers, with the air of an avuncular teacher, and with great patience.

I'm afraid that Carreras was held, quite rightly, to a much higher standard. And in terms of musicianship, Bernstein was a very proficient Conductor, and also wrote some classic pieces of twentieth century music. Carreeras just performed, albeit prettily. Best to know who's Boss.

call me ishmael said...

I was going to say something like that - but far more clumsily.

The whole documentary reveals Bernstein to be much as you say, anonymous, and there is a magical moment when he chides a percussionist, No, one finger tap only, on the tambourine, pianissimo; this was one note among hundreds of thousands, but he had put it there and knew how he wanted it. Seemed entirely right to me.

woman on a raft said...

Und sodenly ahve' fow-und...

It was daft of Bernstein to cast Julio Inglesias as Tony in the first place.

That voice has to be recognizably non-Italian, non-Hispanic, otherwise it isn't possible to see what Maria's bro is cutting up about.

call me ishmael said...

But they were all miscast, each of those opera-trained voices diminishing the streetsmarts of the characters they represented, while underscoring the sophistication and complexity of Bernstein's music.

It's always depressing to hear opera singers assaying popular music and this was no exception; Bernstein leading them through his vision, though, was a treat,that's why they call them Maestro. The movie soundtrack remains, for me, the favourite. When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way, from your first cigarette, to your last dying day.