March 17th, 2014

west side story by mrbnatural

(no subject)

Fernby Films

by Doug Shearer

West Side Story, which won ten Academy Awards in 1961, is nearly, as I noted above, as unlike The Sound of Music as it’s possible to be. The most striking difference, aside from the settings, the documentary sweep and natural grandeur of The Sound of Music versus West Side Story’s unrelenting inner-city grit, is in the music: Richard Rodgers’ score for The Sound of Music is pit-band friendly, all easy keys and simple counterpoint. Leonard Bernstein wrote the music for West Side Story, and he couldn’t have given less of a damn about the comfort of the show’s accompanists. He was a brilliant composer and conductor; as the music director of the New York Philharmonic, he was accustomed to working with the best of the world’s best musicians. Time signatures that don’t occur in nature, blinding flurries of thirty-second (and sixty-fourth!) notes, syncopations that can throw your back out if you’re not careful: his score for West Side Story is full of them.

But the effect is electrifying.
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