The overgrown path works! In a comment on my post about Bernstein's Mass a while back Kathy Demaree wrote movingly about her choir singing Simple Song from the Mass at a memorial service for the composer. Kathy then went on to write a wonderful piece on her blog titled Serendipity, Synchronicity, and Bernstein. Read the whole post, but I will quote from it here....
I just couldn't believe that a series of random events had sent me back down a such a familiar road. I had not been listening to as much Bernstein of late, because I had OD'd at times in the past, but I so very rarely get tired of anything of his. In addition, I've found a CD I want to buy, a new Blog to read, and I've made a new virtual acquaintance. I guess it is true that if you stay true to the things that you love good things will happen to you.
In the early days of an overgrown path I tried to explain my reasons for starting the blog in Serendipity and collabarative filtering. The response to my Mass post in general, and comments like Kathy's in particular, are very rewarding. They show that this blog is achieving the objectives I set out in that rather clumsy early manifesto.
Kathy also sends us down other interesting overgrown paths. She reminds me that the CD of Bernstein conducting his Kaddish Symphony also contains Chichester Psalms. Yes, I bought the recording for the Psalms a long time ago, and serendipity led me to the symphonies. Surely no one will disagree that the Chichester Psalms are a Bernstein masterpeice? For me, and this may generate some dissent, surpassed only by West Side Story.
The responses to my Mass post brought one thing home. The very greatest music is both moving and perfectly structured - for instance Bach's B minor Mass. But there is also music that though moving is imperfectly structured, but is still great - such as Bernstein's Mass. The masterworks by definition balance form and function perfectly. But we must beware of falling into the trap of always seeking the perfectly structured in preference to the moving. The many thoughtful advocacies of Mass show that there is also a valid role for music that puts function before form.
And the overgown path leads us on further. The kernel of Kathy's post is Bernstein's music for Peter Pan (it is nice to see another post leading down the Fairytales path). He wrote the incidental music for J.M.Barrie's play in 1949. The new production starred Jean Arthur and Boris Karloff as Peter and Captain Hook respectively, and Bernstein was commissioned to write the incidental music. As I wrote in a previous post Lennie was larger than life, and always delivered more than he was asked for. His final score for Peter Pan contains music and lyrics for five songs, as well as two choruses for the pirates. The show opened in 1954, was a critical success, and pulled in the audiences on Broadway. The score is certainly not juvenilia (he was 31 when he wrote it!), so apart from recital performances of individual songs why isn't it better known? There is a recording in the catalogue with Alexander Frey conducting the Amber Chamber Orchestra, and Daniel Narducci, Linda Eder, and Michael Shawn-Lewis taking the lead roles.
So the overgrown path is working, and has led us to the fantasy world of Peter Pan. Last night I followed a different path prompted by another perceptive comment from a reader, and listened again to Messiaen's mighty La Transfiguration de Notre-Seigneur Jésus-Christ . But that's a different path, and a different post......
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If you enjoyed this post take an overgrown path to Officium- a triumph of music theatre