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Universal Classics and Sony Classical join the centennial celebrations with newly issued commemorative box sets and remastered recordings that explore Leonard Bernstein’s recorded legacy. Sony Classical's Leonard Bernstein: the Composer recently won the 2018 GRAMMY Award for "Best Historical Album."

Leonard Bernstein’s recorded legacy has been explored afresh by the two recording companies most closely associated with the conductor and composer. Universal Classics is releasing this month a numbered limited edition bumper box, combining acclaimed recordings from its Deutsche Grammophon and Decca labels in celebration of the centennial. Comprising 121 CDs, 36 DVDs and a Blu-Ray audio, the collection features highlights from the composer’s own pen including his three symphonies, Candide, West Side Story and A Quiet Place. Other repertoire ranges from Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler symphonies, through Stravinsky, Ives and Copland, to works by Del Tredici and Rorem (0289 4798418).

Other special releases from Universal include a limited edition DG set of Candide containing the definitive 1989 CD recording made at Abbey Road and a DVD of the live performance filmed at the Barbican, boxed with a 170-page hardback book. A deluxe limited edition release of West Side Story contains the classic if controversial CD set with Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras. This is boxed together with the film documentary about making the recording on DVD and a 104-page hardback book (0289 4798681). March sees a new Bernstein on Broadway compilation and April will bring the release of a new Bernstein Complete Works box, containing all the published works by Bernstein collected for the first time, across 26 CDs and 3 DVDs.

Sony Classical has released a 100-CD box celebrating Bernstein the conductor, drawing upon its archive of his American Columbia recordings. The digital remastering from the original analogue tapes brings these 50-year-old recordings up to modern audiophile standards. Bernstein the composer is represented by all his ballets, symphonies and concertos plus West Side Story with its original Broadway cast (89854 17142).

Last year saw Sony’s release of Leonard Bernstein: the Composer, a 25-CD collection of his recordings of his own works whose historic importance was recently recognized with a 2018 GRAMMY Award for "Best Historical Album" (89853 45312). Recordings of stageworks with original cast members include On the Town with Betty Comden and Adolph Green, Wonderful Town with Rosalind Russell, Candide and Mass.

Naxos is planning the release of a Bernstein box conducted by Marin Alsop in honour of the centennial. This will combine her existing recordings including the three symphonies and Mass together with two new discs featuring the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

Photo: Alfred Eisenstaedt

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