Written in 1955/56 in collaboration with famed author Lillian Hellman,
the musical comedy "Candide" (based loosely on Voltaire's story) consists
of nearly two hours of music and more than thirty different numbers
including solos, ensembles, choruses and purely orchestral music. While
Bernstein described it as a "Valentine card to European music," it struck
others as derisive of European opera and operetta. After the premiere,
Variety wrote: "It's a spectacular, opulent and racy musical, verging on
operetta. It's replete with eye-filling costumes, lavish settings, a big
cast and fine musical score." It was with the New York Philharmonic that
Bernstein first conducted a full orchestra version of his "Candide
Overture" in late 1956/early 1957. The critic Harold Schonberg described it
as "a smart, sophisticated little piece." It soon became Bernstein's most
popular concert work.
This performance with the New York Philharmonic under the maestro and
composer was recorded at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1976.