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Bernstein: Nachspiel

I was Lenny’s assistant with Michael when we prepared the premiere of this set of eight songs for mezzo-soprano, baritone and piano four-hands. “Nachspiel” is the last one which has no text and all singers (and pianists, and perhaps the audience) humming together. It is so exquisitely written, touching and beautiful.

“Nachspiel” from Arias and Barcarolles by Leonard Bernstein

George Gershwin: My Cousin In Milwaukee

To celebrate NYFOS’s 30th Anniversary Season, Song of the Day is featuring some selections from our commercial recordings. 

Longtime friend of NYFOS Judy Kaye really shows her range on NYFOS’s album He Loves and She Loves. Here’s “My Cousin In Milwaukee” from Pardon My English by George and Ira GershwinFrom the program note for Broadway Orphans by Steven Blier:

Pardon My English was one of the Gershwin’s greatest fiascos in the theater; it went through five directors, five librettists, and three orchestrators; the play’s hero was at one time a jewel thief, and in another re-write a schizophrenic with a dual personality.  Ira Gershwin was reportedly not too keen on the retrieval of the lost material from this show in the Secaucus warehouse.  The show marked (and perhaps caused) the end of the producing team of Alex Aarons and Vinton Freedley, who had always supported the Gershwins:  the two brothers felt badly about this, and took the failure hard.  Rumor has it that it’s actually quite a good score, and if today’s selections are any indication, that is certainly true.

Leonard Bernstein: Dream With Me

To celebrate NYFOS’s 30th Anniversary Season, Song of the Day is featuring some selections from our commercial recordings. 

“Dream With Me” was originally written for Leonard Bernstein’s Peter Pan to be sung by Wendy. It was dropped from the show before production, and was recorded for the first time by Judy Kaye on NYFOS’s Grammy-winner album Arias and Barcarolles. It is exceptional for its soaring line of almost operatic breadth.

Leonard Bernstein: Little Smary

“Little Smary” is an example of Bernstein’s art song repertoire outside of the theater. The words are by Jennie Bernstein (Bernstein’s mother). The story depicts a young girl playing with her “wuddit” (rabbit). The story was a common bedtime story told to Bernstein by his mother.

The piece comes from a song cycle entitled Arias and Barcarolles, completed in 1988 and dedicated to S.A.B. (Shirley Anne Bernstein, his sister). The cycle exists in a piano four-hand version and an orchestrated version by Bright Sheng. It is said that the ironic title of the cycle originated from a statement Dwight Eisenhower made at a 1960 performance of Bernstein. He stated, “I liked that last piece you played, it had a tune. I like music with a tune, not all of them arias and barcarolles and things.”

Unlike Bernstein’s theater works, this song is very fragmented. The singer is more narrative than tuneful. This wonderful recording comes from the NYFOS family in 1994 with Steve Blier and Michael Barrett at the piano. The fabulous Judy Kaye masterfully paints a clear story and also characterizes a distraught little Smary.

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