C1135. LEONARD BERNSTEIN Cond. NYPO: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta (Bartok), Live Performance, 19 Feb., 1950, Carnegie Hall (First Publication); Bernstein Cond. St. Louis S.O., w.Nan Merriman (MS): Jeremiah Symphony #1 (Cond. by the Composer), recorded 14 Feb., 1945. (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-143. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“Bernstein gave a credibility to American musicianship that hadn’t existed before, easing our sense of inferiority. He came along and did what seemed impossible: bringing Mahler back to Vienna!
He loved storytelling, and music for him was just a vehicle for telling stories. Often his stories had important morals as well: There was always a lesson to be learned. For me that was a big takeaway. He was so many things: a great conductor, great composer, great pianist. But he was also a TV star, he was a thinker, he was a philosopher, he was a political activist. How many people could wear all of those hats at once? It’s a rare thing.”
-Marin Alsop, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 23 Aug., 2018
"Bernstein was 'one of the most prodigiously talented and successful musicians in American history'. He is quite possibly the conductor whose name is best known to the public in general, especially the American public. His fame derived from his long tenure as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, from his conducting of concerts with most of the world's leading orchestras, and from his music for WEST SIDE STORY, as well as CANDIDE, WONDERFUL TOWN, ON THE TOWN and his own MASS. Bernstein was also the first conductor to give numerous television lectures on classical music, starting in 1954 and continuing until his death. In addition, he was a skilled pianist, often conducting piano concertos from the keyboard.
In 1960 Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic held a Mahler Festival to mark the centenary of the composer's birth. Bernstein, Walter and Mitropoulos conducted performances. The composer's widow, Alma, attended some of Bernstein's rehearsals. The success of [Bernstein's Mahler] recordings, along with Bernstein's concert performances and television talks, was an important part of the revival of interest in Mahler in the 1960s, especially in the US.
In 1964 Bernstein conducted Franco Zeffirelli's production of Verdi's FALSTAFF at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In 1966 he made his debut at the Vienna State Opera conducting Luchino Visconti's production of the same opera with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Falstaff. He returned to the State Opera in 1968 for a production of DER ROSENKAVALIER and in 1970 for Otto Schenk's production of Beethoven's FIDELIO. Sixteen years later, at the State Opera, Bernstein conducted his sequel to TROUBLE IN TAHITI, A QUIET PLACE, with the ORF orchestra."
- Donal Henahan, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 15 Oct., 1990
"Once again, Toscanini provided the initial boost to propel a young singer on her way. [Toscanini] simply liked her warm musical manner and the appealing smoky sound of [Merriman's] mezzo-soprano. In fact, Toscanini used Merriman in more NBC broadcasts than any American singer other than Jan Peerce. The incisive attack, throbbing vibrancy, and wide expressive range of her voice were probably heard to best advantage in the song literature. EMI recorded her in two LP discs of French and Spanish music during the mid-fifties, records that never lasted long in the commercial catalogues but soon became collectors' items among vocal connoisseurs. Presumably satisfied with a quiet yet fulfilling career, Merriman retired in 1965, her voice and artistry still in peak condition."
- Peter G. Davis, THE AMERICAN OPERA SINGER, p.453
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011