New York Phil gets to play Spielberg film

New York Phil gets to play Spielberg film


norman lebrecht

January 23, 2020

Anne-Sophie Mutter has let slip on social media that the New York Philharmonic will be playing the soundtrack for Stephen Spielberg’s film of West Side Story. The conductor is Gustavo Dudamel.

Not that she’s heard it from a reliable source.

Mutter mutters: Great stopover in New York: What a selfie!! Done by Steven Spielberg.
I was allowed to listen a bit to the recording with New York Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel for his latest film …




  • Gustavo says:

    West Side Story with Dudamel – rather predictable.

    Will it be a yellow-label release? To make up for the wayward Carreras/Te Kanawa version?

    Back to Vienna:

    It is reported that John Williams went to meet Riccardo Muti back stage following Verdi’s Requiem with the CSO.

    Now that is interesting!

  • Tamino says:

    Anyone knows what would be a realistic budget for recording with NY Phil under Dudamel West Side Story in the Studio, 2.5 hours of music?
    I imagine it must be quite pricey.

    • Bill says:

      Hire the best studio musicians in either LA or New York with a conductor used to recording for film. They’ll play it better, record it faster, and get it done for less money.

      • Gustavo says:

        Does the world really need another West Side Story project?

        Can we expect any Spielbergian twist to the story?

        Maybe John Williams is rearranging the music?

        Like he did for Fiddler.

        • William says:

          David Newman is adapting the score for this film, from what I’ve read online.

          • Tamino says:

            Then what was John Williams doing on location? Just visiting? Coaching Dudamel in the special craft of conducting for film scoring?
            He must have rushed to be there for a good reason, conducting far away in Vienna only the day before.

          • William says:

            True; I’m not sure. Williams was indeed in Vienna just before; according to ASM’s Instagram page it looks like she and JW flew back to the States together within hours of their final concert ending. Seems like just a friendly get-together after arriving at JFK, if JW knew Spielberg & Dudamel were in NY at the time? Dudamel has some experience with scoring, so I doubt he’d need much help.

            Then again, if JW’s schedule has opened up a lot since finishing STAR WARS, it’s also possible that he’s been asked by Spielberg to take over Newman’s duties and work on the film.

      • Anon says:

        Being it to London. Best of everything. Cheap as chips. Champagne results!

    • Monsoon says:

      Given that the soundtrack will sell quite well, it seems likely that a deal was struck for flexibility on the recording fee in return for a piece of the sales.

      Or, Spielberg spared no expense.

  • WhynotLAPhil? says:

    Why not LA Phil? This goes to show how visionless the industry is. Bernstein recorded West Side Story with NYPhil. Why do you need the same orchestra and what does it say to the LA Phil that there MD is working with the NYPhil?

    • Gustavo says:

      Why not Orquesta Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar?

      More fire for less budget.

    • No he didn’t. Look closely. It was a New York studio pickup orchestra.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Bernstein recorded only the Symphonic Dances from WSS with the New York Phil. The orchestra on the DGG complete recording was a pickup group consisting of a mix of symphony and pit-orchestra musicians.

      • Barry Guerrero says:

        Greg, he also recorded just the “Symphonic Dances” with the L.A. Phil. for DG.

        • Greg Bottini says:

          Right you are, Barry – my point was that *with the NY Phil* the only WSS music LB recorded was the Symphonic Dances.
          And I’ve always preferred that version to the one with the LA Phil.

    • MacroV says:

      Bernstein recorded with a pickup orchestra. But I agree that the LAPO should have done it. How did Dudamel not push for that?

    • Tamino says:

      You make a lot of judgement without having any information.
      Maybe LA Phil wasn’t available for the needed time span?
      Maybe first the location was chosen for a particular reason, an NY Phil was the geographically next best orchestra?
      Maybe NY Phil was keen in doing that project and made an offer they couldn’t resist?
      Could be many reasons.

  • Rob says:

    David Newman, who did the score to Scooby-Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster, is arranging the music.

    He’s not received an Oscar (unlike his dad who bagged nine) and has his work cut out following these two legends – Sid Ramin – who died last July 1st aged 100, a pal of Bernsteins from the early days, and Irwin Kostal of The Sound of Music fame, the arranger/orchestrators for the original 1961 movie, seen here collecting their Oscars:

    • Gustavo says:

      John Williams may be the only living composer/arranger entitled to fiddle around with Lenny’s score.

      But good that John was concentrating on his superb Star Wars 9 score and the magnificent Vienna Phil concerts.

      No need for him to adorn himself with borrowed plumes!

      Hope he gets some sleep after being dragged around Vienna and to this West Side Story recording session.

      Looking forward to Indy 5!

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “West Side Story” is an absolute masterpiece – a fusion of music and dance; at least the film (as I didn’t see the play).
    I hope it continues to get the respect it deserves and it worries me when I see the name Spielberg associated with it.

    • Gustavo says:

      It’s well-worn.

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Dear Sue,
      Please, by all means, try to see a staged production.
      The film was good (and the dancing was superb), but much music was left out, what remained was re-ordered, some songs were re-assigned to different characters, and the plot was sanitized.
      And I not only agree with you that WSS is an absolute masterpiece, I think it is Bernstein’s greatest work.
      MTT’s recording with the SF Symphony has all the music in the right order; except for a too-slow tempo in the “Mambo” it is a marvelous performance, singing and playing-wise. It’s miles better than Bernstein’s own on DGG.
      The old original cast recording with Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert is also great, though not as complete as MTT’s, which has all the scene-change music and the like.
      And if you’re into jazz, the Oscar Peterson Trio recorded an unmissable WSS album on Verve.

  • Gustavo says:

    Preview intervins Williams – insightful!