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 Posted:   Jul 31, 2020 - 2:41 PM   
 By:   Don Norman   (Member)

I just ordered this brand new book about the movie.

https://amzn.to/30dN3ZZ



Found out about courtesy this review in the WaPo.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/just-in-time-for-an-updated-west-side-story-a-look-back-at-the-1961-classic/2020/07/27/f3401616-cdd6-11ea-91f1-28aca4d833a0_story.html


Good account by Walter Mirisch:
https://tinyurl.com/yydsaf67
I hope the reaction to the new version will be as positive as Mirisch's was to the one he produced.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 31, 2020 - 4:54 PM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

Help!

I heard this instrumental version of America on youtube put out by partytime karaoke. The orchestration is very full and the sound quality is very good. Since the melody lines are all there I would never have pegged it as a karaoke track. There is no cd and you can't download it. I'm looking to purchase a great orchestral version of America. I did hear one maybe 12 years ago on, I believe, a new Bernstein tribute cd, but I have no other information and have never been able to track that down or any other comparable performance. I heard Williams/Boston Pops recording but was not impressed. Any recommendations?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 2:50 AM   
 By:   EricHG30   (Member)

I admit, while I think West Side Story is brilliant (and at least some of that is due to Jerome Robbins' especially in the song sequences he was still on set co-directing before he was fired), I play the original cast album when I listen to the score, for the most part. It's a gorgeously produced album by head of Columbia classical, Godard Lieberson, who essentially invented what became known as the definite format for cast recordings and the ones he produced were almost always head and shoulders above those from other studios (his protege Thomas Z Shepherd, took that up--notably producing many of the best Sondheim cast albums when RCA hired him away from Columbia to help revitalize their cast album department back in the 1970s, back when major studios still cared about cast albums).

There's a great book about the music of West Side Story that goes into details of that original cast recording session with some of the letters Stephen Sondheim wrote to Bernstein, who was outof the country on a conducting tour. Sondheim says Bernstein won't be happy with his and Lieberson's decisions to play up some of the tempi for the dance music but the belief was that without the visuals, it had to be played as exciting as possible (and they didn't have to worry about the poor cast keeping up). In this case I think they were right.

What's amazing about it is it was recorded in 1957 (one of the first stereo cast albums) and still sounds pretty fantastic--certainly better than most 1950s movie score soundtracks I have.

A great alternative is the recent San Francisco Orchestra, conducted by the great Michael Tilson Thomas, from 2013 which is note complete to the original score (including the full dream ballet which was cut from the film--probably wisely though I miss it). It's simply one of the best sounding recordings I own http://castalbums.org/recordings/West-Side-Story-2013-Concert-Cast/28105/

But any rate, I do own the last major release of the soundtrack album, and pull it out occasionally mostly for that terrific orchestra. And to get to my point about a piano...

Bernstein hired Irwin Kostal and Sid Ramin to do the Broadway orchestrations and according to an excellent book on Broadway orchestrations, there certainly is no piano there--at least until keyboards became common, Broadway pits didn't typicallyhave pianos though there are exceptions like in the 20s and 30s shows of Jerome Kern and George Gershwin (most notably). The orchestrations were enlarged for the film (once again by Kostal and Ramin although conductor Johnny Green as well as Saul Chaplin get credit as well)--but I don't hear a piano...

And apologies for going on--when someone posts about a Broadway musical here I get a bit over
zealous.

And of course stay away from the 1980s recording Bernstein conducted with a heavily accented José Carreras (!!) and Kiri Te Kanawa. It's not just that it's miscast, but by that time Bernstein was conducting his own work with so much self importance that it just *drags* and, while the orchestra is strong, it's not even the complete score, so why bother.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 5:21 AM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)



A great alternative is the recent San Francisco Orchestra, conducted by the great Michael Tilson Thomas, from 2013 which is note complete to the original score (including the full dream ballet which was cut from the film--probably wisely though I miss it). It's simply one of the best sounding recordings I own http://castalbums.org/recordings/West-Side-Story-2013-Concert-Cast/28105/


That's the only recording of the work I have. But I'm a fan of completeness....



Bernstein hired Irwin Kostal and Sid Ramin to do the Broadway orchestrations and according to an excellent book on Broadway orchestrations, there certainly is no piano there-
.


Not quite sure if you mean in most Broadway shows up til then or WSS, but WSS does indeed have a piano (doubling on celesta) player.

 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 6:28 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Are escorts part of an orchestra?

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 8:10 AM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Help!

I heard this instrumental version of America on youtube put out by partytime karaoke. The orchestration is very full and the sound quality is very good. Since the melody lines are all there I would never have pegged it as a karaoke track. There is no cd and you can't download it. I'm looking to purchase a great orchestral version of America. I did hear one maybe 12 years ago on, I believe, a new Bernstein tribute cd, but I have no other information and have never been able to track that down or any other comparable performance. I heard Williams/Boston Pops recording but was not impressed. Any recommendations?


The great instrumental versions of "West Side Story" include:

Bernstein's own orchestral suite
Manny Albam's version on Coral
The Johnny Richards/Stan Kenton album on Capitol.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 5:16 PM   
 By:   TerraEpon   (Member)



Bernstein's own orchestral suite


Assuming you mean 'Symphonic Dances from West Side Story' (as this is the only suite of the music Bernstein himself did), this doesn't have America in it.

I assume the other two are jazz and aren't at all what the poster was looking for but I assume you knew that and decided to post it anyway....

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 5:28 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Assuming you mean 'Symphonic Dances from West Side Story' (as this is the only suite of the music Bernstein himself did), this doesn't have America in it.

I assume the other two are jazz and aren't at all what the poster was looking for but I assume you knew that and decided to post it anyway....


This began as a general thread about West Side Story. Yes, I was responding to villagardens. I know villagardens' taste in music, and I know he will appreciate my recommendations. He doesn't have to seek them out, and neither do you.

However if he does choose to seek them out, he will likely appreciate them. As for you, I have no idea. I don't know your taste in music.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 5:53 PM   
 By:   villagardens553   (Member)

My God, what a boring discussion group this would be if we all followed parameters in a strictly literal way. I was only looking for orchestral versions of "America," but Onya is right, he does know something of my taste, and I appreciate his recommendations. By the way, I have and do like the Richards/Kenton version, but have not heard the Manny Albam version, but will check it out. I've heard other things by him. Making thoughtful suggestions or comments based on how we connect to the poster's comments is what makes these threads, in turn, interesting to read. If anybody has any recommendations for versions of "America" that do not strictly adhere to what I was originally seeking, by all means, bring them on.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 5, 2020 - 6:08 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

...By the way, I have and do like the Richards/Kenton version, but have not heard the Manny Albam version, but will check it out. I've heard other things by him...

It looks like the Manny Album has been reissued on CD, but I don't know about the source. I have the LP. In some regards, I like it more than the Kenton/Richards, though I love both. The Kenton has an over-the-top crime jazz sound.

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 6, 2020 - 12:11 AM   
 By:   EricHG30   (Member)



A great alternative is the recent San Francisco Orchestra, conducted by the great Michael Tilson Thomas, from 2013 which is note complete to the original score (including the full dream ballet which was cut from the film--probably wisely though I miss it). It's simply one of the best sounding recordings I own http://castalbums.org/recordings/West-Side-Story-2013-Concert-Cast/28105/


That's the only recording of the work I have. But I'm a fan of completeness....

[/quote]

As do I. With any Broadway shows I collect, I usually end up with the original cast album and then an alternative complete (if available) version. Partly because, as Sondheim says, often the songs are tailored to, with keys changed, etc, for the original performers.



Bernstein hired Irwin Kostal and Sid Ramin to do the Broadway orchestrations and according to an excellent book on Broadway orchestrations, there certainly is no piano there-
.


Not quite sure if you mean in most Broadway shows up til then or WSS, but WSS does indeed have a piano (doubling on celesta) player.


Yeah, thanks, I wasn't clear whatsoever. You are right. (As for earlier shows, Kern was famous for insisting Bennett, when orchestrating his shows, use two pianos, although I believe Show Boat was an exception--his 30s musical The Cat and the Fiddle actually had three pianos who had a showcase section in the Overture).

 
 
 Posted:   Aug 7, 2020 - 5:36 PM   
 By:   Howard L   (Member)

And apologies for going on--when someone posts about a Broadway musical here I get a bit over
zealous.


Don't hesitate, sir. Don't hesitate. wink We have had massive from-stage-to-screen-threads since inception and musicals have garnered much discussion.

Hey Neil, not long ago I rewatched WSS and then played back numbers for at least a week thanks to TCM On Demand. Which only spawned research which you can never get enough of. Masterpiece, indeed. How many times can a person watch "Cool" and be wowed as if it were the first time! As a kid I used to open up the folded album and listen while reading the liner notes and looking at the pictures. It seemed a long time before it finally reached television.

 
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