Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Broadway superstar Cheyenne Jackson stars as Tony and Alexandra Silber is Maria in this new production of Leonard Bernstein's beloved musical, West Side Story. Featuring the talents of conductor Michael Tilson Thomas and the GRAMMY® award winning San Francisco Symphony, this live recording is offered in multi-channel Super-Audio and its deluxe package includes a full-color booklet with extensive photos and other fascinating information. This must-have album is the latest treasure in the orchestra's SFS Media label catalog.
Gramophone Magazine, June 2014
So much of what Michael Tilson Thomas and his San Francisco Symphony Orchestra achieve here hits the spot; nowhere is casting wrong-headed...[Jackson] is idiomatic and engaged...Silber is lovely, too, with more vocal colour than the average show (soubrette) soprano...pretty damn good, and the first serious challenger to the...Broadway original.
BBC Music Magazine, July 2014
Tilson Thomas's version scores heavily with its casting of the appealingly youthful-sounding Cheyenne Jackson as Tony and Alexandra Silber as Maria...The orchestra swings like the biggest of big bands, with a driving kit drummer and some spectacular trumpet playing...The performance deserves, and demands, tumultuous applause.
The Times, 29th June 2014
Probably the most complete version of Bernstein's masterpiece ever recorded...It's beautiful, but some of the edginess and energy has gone.
Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, 9th June 2014
This San Francisco take on Manhattan is far slicker and more urbane than Bernstein's own...I love the organised chaos which Tilson Thomas's exaggerated cross-rhythms...The young lovers here are a far more believable pair than Bernstein's operatic veterans.
MusicWeb International, 2nd June 2014
As Maria, Silber accounts for several highlights on this recording. Her gleaming, peach-pure soprano lends sweetness and sexiness to the romantic duets...Tilson Thomas and the orchestra bring a wonderful clarity and pulsing sense of lushness to these songs and scenes...The percussion section covers itself in glory, punching up rhythms and deftly spicing things up throughout.
The Times, 6th June 2014
Listen as the fingers snap and the saxophone smoulders in the Act I prologue. You definitely feel the adrenaline of a live occasion: the vitality of the playing is enthralling. At the same time there's a bloom and finesse about the sounds that lift us some distance from the show's Broadway origins.
Gramophone Magazine, June 2014
There is not a sentence started by Aasgaard that Roscoe leaves unfinished; no question unanswered...More than usual, therefore, it is important not to understate the value that Martin Roscoe adds to this recording with his utterly faultless playing. He makes you properly listen.
The Guardian, 3rd July 2014
Even with the dialogue cut to a bare minimum they make the drama genuinely involving - there's no hint of parody in the Puerto Rican accents...while Cheyenne Jackson's Tony is a nicely conflicted mix of sentiment and swagger. Both the choral singing and the orchestral playing are immaculate, too, but the performance doesn't always fizz as it ought to.
Lyricist: Stephen Sondheim.
Liner Note Authors: James M. Keller; Larry Rothe; Jamie Bernstein; Rita Moreno; Michael Tilson Thomas.
Recording information: Davies Symphony Hall, San Francisco (06/27/2013-07/02/2013).
Photographer: Stefan Cohen.
Presented with the idea of a West Coast West Side Story, you might imagine some kind of unorthodox interpretation, but in fact this 2013 production, recorded live (and recorded very well indeed) for the San Francisco Symphony's in-house label falls squarely into traditions laid down by the work's composer, Leonard Bernstein. This is not to say that conductor Michael Tilson Thomas follows Bernstein's own recording of the Romeo and Juliet tale of the Sharks and the Jets, which had a heavily operatic tinge: this is a Broadway-style recording, not an operatic one, and the vocal qualities of Cheyenne Jackson as Tony and Alexandra Silber as Maria are not too far from those in the hit soundtrack recording of the 1960s. Instead, it is Bernstein the composer who is the star of Tilson Thomas' show. Unlike the works of other Broadway composers who wrote tunes and left assistants to fill in conventional orchestration, Bernstein often made the orchestra a key partner in the action, and Tilson Thomas captures such details as the small keyboard line in "Maria" (perhaps a celesta) that is swallowed up in live performances and recordings. Tilson Thomas, like Bernstein, is comfortable with the variety of pop rhythms in the show, and the end result is a recording that really represents the best of both worlds. Highly recommended. ~ James Manheim
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