Lara Downes’ upcoming tribute album, For Lenny, will be released February 9 on Sony Classical. The recording centers around Bernstein’s Anniversaries for Piano, musical portraits he composed for his family and friends; it also features works dedicated to Bernstein by American composers including Stephen Sondheim, John Corigliano, Stephen Schwartz, and Ned Rorem.
Downes’ recording features a roster of guest artists from across different genres, including Thomas Hampson, Rhiannon Giddens, and beatboxer Kevin “K.O.” Olusola (a member of Pentatonix).
“… those wishing to listen beginning-to-end in a single sitting will appreciate the occasional appearance of guest artists … Thomas Hampson going straight to the heart of “A Simple Song” (the opening “Hymn and Psalm” from Mass). Hampson’s track ushers in what amounts to the coda of the album, which is distinguished for its plainspoken quietude. Since the beginning of this season, there have been any number of flashy events honoring Bernstein; and I have no doubt that there will be plenty more before the centennial date arrives. Nevertheless, since Bernstein himself had been accused of indulging in excess so many times, I have to confess that there is much to be said for simplicity and quietude honoring his memory. Downes’ recording may well have qualities that will endure long after the celebratory shouts of “Bravo!” have evaporated into the ether.” (The Rehearsal Studio)
Watch the exclusive video below to see the American baritone and Downes perform “A Simple Song” from Bernstein’s Mass.