On the eve of Bernstein’s 100th birthday, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony celebrate with a digital-only release of Bernstein’s final song cycle, Arias and Barcarolles. The new recording from SFS Media, available now, spotlights performances by mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard and bass-baritone Ryan McKinny.
Reflecting on the world’s season-long celebration of Bernstein’s centennial, it occurs to me that this performance of Arias and Barcarolles speaks far more eloquently than any words I might offer. It illuminates what he was actually like and shows the range of his omnivorously curious, confrontational, and generous spirit. It delights and challenges us at every moment.
- Michael Tilson Thomas
Michael Tilson Thomas
San Francisco Symphony
Isabel Leonard, Mezzo-soprano
Ryan McKinny, Bass-baritone
Bernstein: Arias and Barcarolles
2. Love Duet
3. Little Smary
4. The Love of My Life
6. Oif Mayn Khas’neh (At My Wedding)
7. Mr. and Mrs. Webb Say Goodnight
With Bernstein, MTT premiered the work in its original version for piano four-hand and voices in 1988 in New York City. This new version, recorded live at Davies Symphony Hall in 2017, features an orchestral arrangement that is, according to MTT, “everything Bernstein would have wanted it to be.”
In this performance, MTT notes that “Isabel and Ryan uniquely and remarkably capture what I know was the spirit of this piece from the moment of its creation. Their voices allow them to sing at times a bit on the pop/Broadway side, and at others on the really big classical side. They do so effortlessly and infectiously, and to me, it is exactly what Bernstein was seeking in an ideal performance of this music.”