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Bernstein, Leonard: Fancy Free (1944) 27'
Ballet

Scoring

2(II=picc).2.2.2-4.3.3.1-timp.perc(2-3):SD/BD/susp.cym/wdbl/tgl/ cowbell(ad lib)-pft-strings

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Territory

This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

Programme Note

This vibrant, jazz-tinged score was Bernstein’s first collaboration with choreographer Jerome Robbins.  Its patriotic high spirits affirm the energy and vitality of a great city – Bernstein’s beloved New York – during the anxious years of World War II.  Bernstein describes the scenario: “Three sailors explode on the stage.  They are on a 24-hour shore leave in the city and on the prowl for girls.  The tale of how they first meet one, then a second girl, and how they fight over them, lose them, and in the end take off after a third, is the story of the ballet.”  Robbins sought to create a quintessentially American ballet; Bernstein obliged him with a score that was kinetic and tuneful, refracting popular dance music styles through a prism of angular melodies and syncopated rhythms.  The resulting ballet was a huge success, drawing sold-out crowds to the Metropolitan Opera House.

Recommended Recording

Mel Ulrich, baritone / Mark Risinger, bass
Nashville Symphony Orchestra / Andrew Mogrelia
Naxos 8.559280

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