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Bernstein’s A Quiet Place a Success in Berlin

(January 2014)

A positive reaction for the new chamber version of A Quiet Place

This past November, Berlin celebrated Leonard Bernstein in a big way. The Konzerthaus Berlin programmed a festival celebrating the life and oeuvre of Bernstein with performances and talks, honoring the memory of a man with strong ties to Germany’s capital.

The culminating event of the festival was the premiere of a new chamber version of Bernstein’s opera, A Quiet Place, performed by Ensemble Modern conducted by Kent Nagano. Through productions in Houston and Vienna in the 1980s, the work evolved into a full-length, three-act opera, with the complexity of Bernstein’s later style surrounding his earlier jazzy one-act opera, Trouble in Tahiti. The Leonard Bernstein Office has created a new reduced chamber version, removing Trouble in Tahiti from the full work. To read about the differences in this new version edited by Garth Edwin Sunderland, click here.

Press for A Quiet Place in Berlin:

"The new version, reduced to 17 members of Ensemble Modern, has more wit, more edge and modern transparency than ever."
Die Welt

"The performance at Berlin’s Konzerthaus shows that the version for chamber orchestra is an excellent idea; it must also be mentioned, however, that the cast of singers, musicians and Nagano on the podium left absolutely nothing to be desired—also in terms of acting … The soloists may have appeared in evening suits, but their portrayal of these damaged family characters etches itself deeply into the audience’s soul … Bernstein’s detailed transformation of spoken words into vocal lines is the only thing still reminiscent of West Side Story in this late work. It’s true: the modernism that is hidden at the core of Bernstein’s hit musical comes to the surface with a vengeance in A Quiet Place."
Berliner Morgenpost

"Nagano’s subtly rhythmical implacability never lets A Quiet Place drift into comfortable snugness. The Ensemble Modern shines throughout the illuminating score; the entire brilliant cast never misses a beat. ‘The path towards truth is clear and safe,’ the chorus sings. For Bernstein, this can only be the path of the heart."
Der Tagesspiegel

"…the performance by the highly specialized Ensemble Modern from Frankfurt and exquisite vocal soloists turned out to be an entertaining and pleasant-sounding discovery tour through the great Bernstein workshop."
Livekritik Kultur Extra

Photo: Susesch Bayat/Deutsche Grammophon

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