Monday, October 8, 2012

Bernstein: Age of Anxiety (Original Version)

Cover design by Darrill Connelly
About a month ago, I treated myself to the Leonard Bernstein Symphony Edition, a 60-CD set containing 110 symphonies that he recorded for Columbia from the 1950s through the 1970s.  Among these, of course, were his own three - Jeremiah, The Age of Anxiety (based on W. H. Auden's poem of the same name), and Kaddish.  It occurred to me, as I listened to the second of these - for me, the finest of the three, and one of his finest works altogether - that I had long harbored a mono LP of the same work (the version in the CD set is the stereo remake, featuring Philippe Entremont at the piano), and that the older recording represented the only extant one of the original version of the score.  In 1965 Bernstein, while preparing the replacement recording, decided to revise the finale of the symphony, which originally had limited the piano's role to a single chord at the end.  He had come to feel that this didn't so much convey the intended detachment in Auden's poem as rob the piano of its concertante function, so the revision incorporates the piano into the scoring and even provides a cadenza.  No doubt Bernstein was right, but it is still, I think, valuable to be able to hear his original intentions as represented by the earlier recording:

Bernstein: The Age of Anxiety (Symphony No. 2, after W. H. Auden)
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York
conducted by Leonard Bernstein, with Lukas Foss, piano
Recorded February 27, 1950
Columbia ML-4325, one 12-inch LP record
Link (FLAC files, 82.57 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 41.18 MB)


  1. In my opinion, one the best works by Bernstein: it is definitly very interesting to compare both versions.THANKS !!

  2. A very interesting recording! Thanks for sharing, dear Bryan!

  3. Superb transfer. Thanks very much for sharing.

    Paul Goldstein