Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 9
Sound Quality: 8
There’s something comforting about this defiantly relaxed, gracious, unashamedly big-band Gershwin disc. Today, when “authenticity” is all the rage, and small forces the name of the game, they often seem synonymous with fast, dry, cold, mechanical, passionless music-making—in Gershwin no less than in Bach. This performance of Rhapsody in Blue is positively luscious, taking its time and luxuriating in the great tunes and full sonorities of the large orchestra. But it’s also fluid, with pianist Orion Weiss applying rubato sensitively, in a way that sounds truly jazzy—relaxed but never mannered. It reminds me a bit of Bernstein’s old Sony recording. It has that same level of confidence, only without the cuts.
The rest of this program really helps to separate this disc from the rest of the Gershwin pack. Catfish Row, Gershwin’s own suite from Porgy and Bess, is still too rarely heard, and JoAnn Falletta’s performance is excellent. If the above sounds like the interpretations are in any way lazy or droopy, check out the light and lively Fugue, or the ensuing Hurricane. The overture to Strike Up the Band, another comparative rarity, also has plenty of energy, while the brief Promenade simply exudes charm with John Fullam the excellent solo clarinetist. The sonics are just a bit lacking in openness on top, but are otherwise rich and warm, like the performances themselves. Gershwin’s music has to sound sexy, and here it really does. How refreshing!
Buy Now from Arkiv Music
Recording Details:Reference Recording: Rhapsody: Wild/Fiedler (RCA)
- GERSHWIN, GEORGE:Rhapsody in Blue; Catfish Row; Overture to Strike Up the Band; Promenade