In Friday’s Washington Post: NSO Highlights Bernstein, by Anne Midgette.
Given the soundtrack-like aspects of the music of the “Kaddish” symphony, it was interesting to hear it with a text that was written after the fact (Samuel Pisar’s text was first aired in 2003, 40 years after the symphony’s premiere). The music clearly needed a narrative and got the right one here; this created the illusion that the music was tailored to the words, rather than the other way round.
It will be interesting to see how Pisar’s text functions when Pisar himself is not delivering it: a good deal of its authority on Thursday came from its authenticity (a commodity that was somewhat absent in Bernstein’s original text, however well-meaning).
In the review, I address the lingering fact of Bernstein as a composer: the way that the establishment tends to look askance at him, with a vague sense of disapproval, an idea that he should have done more or better. Yet his influence on American music and musicians was unequalled by anyone else of his generation: name one other person who had such a powerful effect on so many people in so many areas of music. What are your thoughts on Bernstein’s work, and its legacy?