WHAT'S ON YOUR IPOD? BWW Classical Talks to Park Avenue Chamber Symphony's David Bernard
Since its founding in 1999, the Park Avenue Chamber Symphony has built a loyal following, both in New York City and worldwide through its extensive catalog of recordings on iTunes, Naxos/ClassicsOnline, Amazon and Spotify. Its founder, conductor and musical director David Bernard recently sat down with BWW Classical to tell us what he's been listening to lately. The results were wonderfully eclectic!
WHAT'S ON DAVID BERNARD'S IPHONE?
What's on my iPhone? Well, with the 128GB versions of the iPhone available today, what ISN'T on my iPhone! I have several complete sets of Beethoven, Mozart, Mahler and Schumann Symphonies, several versions of the complete Ring Cycle, etc. But these are my favorite, most listened to recordings:
1. Switched on Bach (1 & 2) /Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos had to overcome seemingly insurmountable technical obstacles to produce an album of Bach on an early Moog Synthesizer in 1968. In these pre-Midi and Polyphonic keyboard days, Carlos was forced to not only record each track separately and create her own improvised 8 track recording device, she had to painstakingly create synthetic sounds for each note and every line in every work on the album, which is especially challenging given the polyphonic nature of Bach's music. The result is absolutely astounding, not for her technical acheivement (which is amazing), but for the outstanding musicianship of these performances. Carlos is not only a master of pacing and inflection, but through her deft application of synthetic sounds reveals a profound understanding of structure and line. I challenge anyone to find more uplifting, musically sound performances of the Sinfonia from Cantata #29 or Brandenburgs 3 & 5 than what Carlos achieved in these albums. This album was my introduction to Bach, and the musical rigor, attention to detail and pure joy that Carlos brings to this music inspires me every day.
2. George Szell Conducts and Plays Mozart
This album contains pretty much every recording produced by Sony Classical (and its predecessors Columbia Masterworks and Epic) featuring George Szell performing Mozart, including a few rare releases. Each performance on this album is spectacular, combining blinding energy, extremely careful application of style and musicianship, purposeful pacing and rigorous precision. An added bonus of this particular album is the inclusion of two of the finest Mozart concerto recordings-the Clarinet Concerto (with Robert Marcellus) and the Piano Concerto No. 25 (with Leon Fleisher). Also included are a few Piano and Violin sonatas and the Piano Quartets with Szell performing as the pianist (joined by Rafael Druian, concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra from 1960-1969 for the sonatas and the Budapest Quartet for the Piano Quartets). Some criticize Szell's precise performances as cold, but nothing can be further from the truth. Szell's precision reflects respect for both the works and the listener, and these performances are all delightful. For me, these are true reference recordings that I listen to frequently.