Bernstein: Mass / Nezet-seguin, Philadelphia Orch.

Album cover art for upc 028948350094
Label: DG
Catalog: 4835009
Format: CD

Philadelphia Orchestra, Westminster Symphonic Choir, Temple University Concert Choir, The American Boychoir, Temple University Diamond Marching Band, Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Jacqueline Kennedy commissioned Leonard Bernstein to compose this massive work for the inauguration of the Kennedy Centre in New York. It premiered on 8 September 1971. Bernstein decided to write an innovative Mass and what came out is, say, a Catholic Mass getting out of hand. The Mass is seen through the eyes of a Jewish composer with an extraordinary palette of musical styles at his disposal, the work draws on influences from religious to popular and broadway musical genres. Requiring two orchestras, rock band, marching band, multiple choirs and musical singers, for obvious reasons, the monumental work is rarely performed and even rarer on disc. Born out of the political and social turmoil of the 60s, its main character experiences a roller-coaster of emotions and questioning of faith. On a wide variety of levels, this work is as relevant today as it was at its inception. Nixon, then President, refused to attend the premiere after an FBI warning for fear it could contain anti-war/anti-government sentiments. Unified under his baton, Yannick Nézet-Séguin forges a powerfully emotional interpretation of this unique work – a cross-section of European and American Music.

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