View Full Version : Good Gershwin
09-18-2004, 02:34 AM
I'm trying to find a good performance of Gershwin's classics. Primarily 'Rhapsody in Blue' and 'American in Paris'. I had a cassette tape a long time ago that I adored, but the versions that I've been able to find online (namely iTunes; I pays for my music, thank you very much) seem very...... terse. Too quick on the notes, too shrill, too .... I don't know... contrived. And somehow conceited at the same time.
The performance that I have is by the Boston Pops under the direction of Arthur Fiedler. I thought that they would do it right, but they did it so bad. I get the feeling that every musician is saying "Look at me! Look at me hit my notes! Don't I hit them oh so perfectly? Hit the notes. Hit the notes... "
They might hit the notes, but they never made the music. IMHO.
Can anyone suggest a better rendition of GG's tones?
Thank you very much,
09-18-2004, 06:22 AM
I'd highly recommend Wayne Marshall, who's truly convincing both in mainstream classical music and in 'real' jazz. He's recorded both rhapsodies, the concerto, and plenty else besides (conducting as well as on the piano).
09-18-2004, 06:29 AM
I have a record album of Andre` Previn plays Gershwin that would bring tears to your eyes. But, I've never seen it on CD. Sorry.
Good luck .
09-18-2004, 08:48 AM
I have two in my collection Play them both regularly:
1. Orxhestral version: Rhapsody in Blue/An American in Paris (http://www.telarc.com/gscripts/title.asp?gsku=0058), with Erich Kunzel conducting the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, with Eugene List in Piano
2. Version for two pianos: Rhapsody in Blue/Piano Concerto in F (http://www.labeque.com/recordings/view.asp?ID=11), by Katia & Marielle Labeque. One of my first CD purchases, and a version suggested by my father.
09-18-2004, 08:48 AM
Marcus Roberts (http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE4791FDB47A57020CE873B5DDEB17AF501CA4EFB803E2D595B92B63E45911E7AE84AF095C4AEFB7DAB7BAFFF 2AE85305D7CEE455F5CC1740&sql=10:ecjxlf0ehcqp) does a mindblowing jazz version. "I thought it was, by definition, jazz?" So sayeth many before I play this one for them.
Wonderful, wonderful stuff.
09-18-2004, 12:34 PM
My favorite version has Rhapsody in Blue, Piano Concerto in F and An American in Paris as recorded by Werner Haas and the Orchestre National de l'Opéra de Monte Carlo. It was recorded in the early 70's and the CD may be out of print now; it says it was made in West Germany. It's one of Philips' "Silver Line Classics." Amazon doesn't have a listing for it.
09-18-2004, 12:51 PM
Here's (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000001K1Z/qid=1095529586/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/102-9952318-7531368?v=glance&s=classical) the Gershwin I have: 2 CD's worth by Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (recorded in the 70s, IIRC, but it sounds pretty good to me). A good choice if you want a lot of Gershwin at a low price.
I have huge 78s of Paul Whiteman's Orchestra playing both "An American in Paris" and "Rhapsody in Blue"--I've taped them and don't know where I've buried the originals, so I don't know if George himself is on piano. But I think they're brilliant recordings, and--being as old as they are--they get the original 1920s gestalt right, as it doesn't have to be re-created.
09-18-2004, 03:25 PM
I've always been a big fan of this (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B000001GBG/qid=1095538889/sr=1-22/ref=sr_1_22/102-4192611-7470564?v=glance&s=classical) Rhapsody (Bernstain plays & conducts). The American I have is the version from the Gene Kelly film, which may not be as faithful as you're looking for.
09-18-2004, 04:22 PM
Second for Lenny Bernstein's rendition. He lived in the same mileau as Gershwin about ten years or so later and they even knew lots of the same people. He also had the musical theater background that Gershwin did and has a good feel for how this stuff should be performed.
The version I have is this one (http://www.sonymusicstore.com/store/catalog/MerchandiseDetails.jsp;jsessionid=BMleuAdsuwGoYvJ22X6TlOO9JJIubx1UgyJk2nHHa1K4SHvqcAyc!1012185132!14 3573198?merchId=2432&mname=CD), with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra doing the Rhapsody and the NY Philharmonic doing American in Paris. Lenny plays the hell out of the piano in the Rhapsody.
If you like these, you might want to move onto Gershwin's theater recordings; none are of his time, of course, but the Library of Congress did a great series in the early nineties with authentic orchestrations and lyrics and top musical theater stars. Michael Tilson Thomas has also done a wonderful 'On the Town' and 'Of Thee I Sing' and 'Let 'em Eat Cake', the latter being particularly appropriate for an election year.
09-18-2004, 09:58 PM
My favorite version of "Rhapsody in Blue" in particular is from the soundtrack to the Woody Allen movie Manhattan. That may be blasphemy to some, but it was the first version I heard, and I listened to it incessantly during college. Any other version sounds "weird" now. Lots of other Gershwin stuff on that album.
As for "American in Paris," I've never heard a version other than the one on the movie soundtrack, so I'm no help there.
09-18-2004, 10:35 PM
I'll agree with the recommendations of Bernstein's Rhapsody.
And I happen to love the Concerto in F, particularly the one with Mitch Miller (yes, the "sing along with" guy) directing the London Symphony Orchestra, with David Golub on piano.
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