Bernstein: On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite; Candide (excerpts); On the Town (excerpts); West Side Story (excerpts)

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2.0 out of 5 star rating 2.0

COMPOSERS: Bernstein
LABELS: Warner
WORKS: On the Waterfront Symphonic Suite; Candide (excerpts); On the Town (excerpts); West Side Story (excerpts)
PERFORMER: Kim Criswell (soprano); Lamoureux Orchestra/Yutaka Sado
CATALOGUE NO: 2564-60480-2
As Bernstein programmes go, this is an odd one. With dozens of fine theatre songs to choose from, Kim Criswell sings only three. The Old Lady’s tango ‘I Am Easily Assimilated’ from Candide is preceded by the Candide Overture, then followed by an orchestral suite concocted from the show by Bernstein’s long-time musical assistant Charlie Harmon – which includes, yes, ‘I Am Easily Assimilated’. Hildy’s ‘I Can Cook Too’ from On the Town is followed by just one of Bernstein’s Three Dance Episodes from the same score. And ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story becomes a redundant epilogue to the suite from the film On the Waterfront. None of this would matter much if the performances were exceptional. But the playing of the long-established Parisian Lamoureux Orchestra is stodgy, lacking in attack and intensity. Its musical director Yutaka Sado, although a pupil of Bernstein, doesn’t always set or sustain the right tempi: the love music in On the Waterfront doesn’t flow at all. Criswell is characterful as the Old Lady and sweet in ‘Somewhere’, but puts across the text of ‘I Can Cook Too’ at the expense of pitch. And the recording, in a cavernous acoustic, lacks focus and perspective. Not recommended. Anthony Burton