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Remembering JFK - 50th Anniversay Concert

Audio Samples

>Bernstein, Leonard : Fanfare for the inauguration of J. F. Kennedy, for brass ensemble
>Lieberson, Peter : Remembering JFK, for narrator & orchestra
>Bernstein, Leonard : Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
>Gershwin, George : Concerto for Piano in F major
>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
>Smith, John Stafford : The Star-spangled Banner
>Montaine, John La : From Sea to Shining Sea, overture for orchestra
>Thompson, Randall : The Testament of Freedom
>     1. The God who gave us life gave us liberty
>Gershwin, George : Rhapsody in Blue

Album Summary

>Bernstein, Leonard : Fanfare for the inauguration of J. F. Kennedy, for brass ensemble
>Lieberson, Peter : Remembering JFK, for narrator & orchestra
>Bernstein, Leonard : Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
>Gershwin, George : Concerto for Piano in F major
>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
>Smith, John Stafford : The Star-spangled Banner
>Montaine, John La : From Sea to Shining Sea, overture for orchestra
>Thompson, Randall : The Testament of Freedom
>Gershwin, George : Rhapsody in Blue
Performers Conductors Ensemble Composers

Notes & Reviews:

This new release celebrates the memory of John F. Kennedy, and the 50th anniversary of his inauguration as U.S. President, by coupling new and historic recordings by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington, D.C. The first disc features Christoph Eschenbach conducting the January 2011 anniversary concert at the Kennedy Center. It includes the world premiere recording of Peter Lieberson's Remembering JFK, with famous actor Richard Dreyfuss narrating excerpts from Speeches of President Kennedy. Also featured are excerpts from the previously unreleased 1961 Inaugural Concert, including radio commentary from the original broadcast. Celebrating its 80th anniversary season, the NSO here presents its first recording under its new music director, Christoph Eschenbach.

"The anniversary concert features Christoph Eschenbach leading the National Symphony in a program of Bernstein's Fanfare for the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Peter Lieberson's Remembering JFK, and Gershwin's Piano Concerto in F... The musical highlight is Rhapsody in Blue, to which pianist Earl Wild and the National Symphony under Howard Mitchell bring a rhythmic flexibility that's dizzyingly idiosyncratic but unmistakably effective, memorable, and fun. Wild's playing, at once brawny and subtly nuanced, makes the work sound brand new and is by itself worth the price of the disc." -All Music Guide

"Mr. Eschenbach and the orchestra somehow reached an entirely new plane of excellence during this performance. The brass sounded great; the percussionists blasted forth with the abandon of rock superstars, particularly during the raucous “Mambo” excerpt; and Mr. Eschenbach himself, though a European by birth, seemed somehow to be channeling Bernstein’s quirky, jazzy personality right into the players themselves. It’s an awesome, visceral performance... While there are better recordings of the Gershwin concerto around, the NSO’s new CD is still well worth owning. The ensemble’s performances Bernstein compositions are top-notch and the bonus CD brings back memories of America’s own Camelot legend, a time where music, culture, arts, and politics seemed, albeit briefly, to be in total harmony and when Democrats and Republicans alike knew who their international friends and enemies really were... for those who lived through these times, the memories still evoke a warm, hopeful glow. And the NSO’s newest CD package goes a long way toward making that era more of a reality for successive generations who’ve never experienced a time when all things seemed within America’s grasp." -The Washington Times

ClassicsToday.com
Whether or not you want this souvenir disc depends on how you feel about the concept. On the plus side, the "bonus disc" is in fact the main attraction. It contains a serviceable mono aircheck of JFK's actual inauguration concert in 1961, consisting of The Star-Spangled Banner, John La Montaine's attractive overture From Sea to Shining Sea, the first movement of Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom, and Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue performed by the incomparable Earl Wild, all with the National Symphony led by Howard Mitchell. The original radio commentary adds a nice period flavor to the occasion. It really is an appealing bit of musical/political history.

Classic FM Magazine
As historical document, Remembering JFK is an absorbing time capsule.

BBC Music Magazine
Peter Lieberson's Remembering JFK, which sadly has now become a memorial to the composer as well, sets excerpts from Kennedy's speeches, drily delivered by Richard Dreyfuss, against an orchestral background.



Reviews

Two Historic Events in One
This new release from Ondine is actually two historical musical documents in one. The first CD is a recording of the 50th Anniversary Concert held at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra lead by Christoph Eschenbach. This January, 2011, event took place 50 years after the January 19, 1961 Inaugural Concert for the president-elect, John F. Kennedy. The second disc has some excerpts from that historic concert. The centerpiece of the 2011 concert is a newly-commissioned work by Peter Lieberson, "Remembering JFK, an American Elegy." Modeled along the lines of Copland's "Lincoln Portrait," the music blends quotations from JFK's speeches along with orchestral accompaniment that sets the tone for the words. It's an interesting work that sounds distinctively American, without being either crassly patriotic nor excessively maudlin. Richard Dreyfuss narrates with gravity and conviction. The second disc features some commentary and performances from the 1961 Inaugural Concert held in Constitution Hall. Washington was paralyzed by a blizzard, and many of the guests (and performers) had difficulty making it to the concert. Even the President-Elect and First Lady had to walk to the event! Color commentary from the Mutual Radio Network broadcast is included, and for me, that alone is worth the price of admission! Despite the chaotic nature of the concert that was somewhat improvised due to the weather, the announcers remain unflappable, brilliantly describing the scene in clear, well-articulated sentences with every syllable rolling effortlessly and beautifully off their tongues. The CD concludes with Earl Wild performing Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." The music just seems to flow from his fingers. Wild captures the improvisatory nature of Gershwin's music, and manages to make this well-know work sound as if he's making it up on the spot. And the enthusiastic response by the audience confirms that this was indeed, a great performance. Overall, "Remembering JFK" is a treasure. The commissioned works are welcome additions to the repertoire, the 2011 concert is immensely enjoyable, and the 1961 concert recording is a wonderful historical document to a truly exciting musical event.
Submitted on 07/06/11 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Bernstein, Leonard : Fanfare for the inauguration of J. F. Kennedy, for brass ensemble
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. (01/22/2011-01/24/2011)
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1961

>Lieberson, Peter : Remembering JFK, for narrator & orchestra
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. (01/22/2011-01/24/2011)
  • Running Time: 15 min. 35 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2009-2010

>Bernstein, Leonard : Symphonic Dances from West Side Story
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. (01/22/2011-01/24/2011)
  • Running Time: 21 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1960

>Gershwin, George : Concerto for Piano in F major
  • Performer: Tzimon Barto (Piano)
  • Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. (01/22/2011-01/24/2011)
  • Running Time: 38 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1925

>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 9 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Smith, John Stafford : The Star-spangled Banner
  • Conductor: Howard Mitchell
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 1 min. 19 sec.
  • Period Time: Classical
  • Form: Choral
  • Written: circa 1799

>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 2 min. 3 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Montaine, John La : From Sea to Shining Sea, overture for orchestra
  • Conductor: Howard Mitchell
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 7 min. 34 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral

>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 2 min. 50 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Thompson, Randall : The Testament of Freedom :: 1. The God who gave us life gave us liberty
  • Conductor: Howard Mitchell
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 3 min. 20 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1943

>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 3 min. 15 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic

>Gershwin, George : Rhapsody in Blue
  • Performer: Earl Wild (Piano)
  • Conductor: Howard Mitchell
  • Ensemble: National Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 15 min. 38 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1924

>Word, Spoken : Radio commentary
  • Notes: This selection is a mono recording.
  • Running Time: 2 min. 52 sec.
  • Period Time: Post Romantic