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Some works fail to be bigger than their backstory or the personality of their creator. Bernstein’s Mass, commissioned by Jacqueline Onassis, was influenced by Bernstein’s conducting at JFK’s funeral in 1968 and by the Beethoven centenary two years later; also by his collaborations with rock singers and film directors. The first theatre performances were not a success, but the piece has continued to enjoy a life as a recorded work, conducted by Bernstein himself, Kent Nagano, Marin Alsop and Kristjan Järvi. If it seemed that yet another version was de trop, Dennis Russell Davies trumps them all with a performance that can only be described as Bernsteinian, but in trumps. It’s huge, over-the-top, but its modish appropriations seem more routine and less jarring than they did in 1971 and Vojtěch Dyk is a charismatic celebrant, pitched just right between holiness and theatricality.

BRIAN MORTON Read the full review on Agora Classica


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