This prime spot on Radio 3’s flagship programme CD REVIEW is easily the most challenging that any music journalist can undertake – and having braved that challenge on countless occasions over the last three decades with the mighty symphonic works of Mahler, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov and others I can attest to the amount and complexity of the work involved if it is to be a job really well done.
Taking on 30+ recordings of a Mahler symphony is a whole lot of listening and re-listening and agonising over this detail and that and I very nearly lost count (to say nothing of the plot) when I foolishly agreed to tackle Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Never again.
But having stepped back from the breach a year or so and firmly declared “no more” the persuasive folk at Radio 3 have reeled me in once more for what SHOULD be a labour of love – Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Only 8 recordings but a multitude of sins, diversity, wrong-headedness, and mixed blessings. But what a masterpiece of music theatre (not opera) this is. The greatest ever written? Tune in.