A True Virtuoso revealed through DG Recordings
The maestro Bernstein of phase two made over 200 records, galvanising his forces to produce enthusiastic accounts of unusual repertoire and invigorating renditions of standard works. The third, European, phase was dominated at first by mainstream repertoire, capitalising on his long-standing relationship with the Vienna Philharmonic (197 concerts in 24 years).
In 1979, Bernstein conducted the Berlin Philharmonic for the first time, in two concerts featuring Mahler’s Ninth Symphony. One of these performances, originally broadcast on radio, was released on CD by Deutsche Grammophon after the conductor’s death.
Bernstein first conducted the Ninth in 1950, and wrote to his parents about this momentous occasion: My first performance of Beethoven’s Ninth was a triumph! I have been very worried about this event – the big test in every conductor’s life. But it was so exciting – the solo quartet was the best I’ve ever heard – the chorus was marvelous – the orchestra never played better. What a tremendous experience it is to do this work! Like tearing your guts out.
Text: Nigel Simeone