Bernstein in the 1940s, Vol. 1

This week we present the first of two volumes dedicated to early recorded performances by the legendary composer/conductor Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein was guest conductor of the NBC Symphony Orchestra on two consecutive weeks in the late springtime of 1946, from which the present release is drawn.

It begins with a full performance of the Airborne Symphony by Marc Blitzstein, a work written during WW2 and championed by Bernstein, who had conducted the première and went on to record it twice. Here, uniquely, the narrator's role is taken by the composer himself, bringing a new dimension to a fascinating work.

The release also features a short piece by Don Gillis, Motor Perpetuo, in what was a world première (and possibly the only recorded performance), and, with conductor Bernstein also at the keyboard, a marvellous rendition of Ravel's Piano Concerto in G.