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Gershwin: Porgy And Bess / Rattle, White, Haymon, Et Al

Release Date: 09/13/2005 
Label:  Emi Great Recordings Of The Century Catalog #: 76832   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Gershwin
Performer:  Barrington ColemanRon TravisTed MaynardBilly J. Mitchell,   ... 
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic OrchestraGlyndebourne Festival Chorus
Number of Discs: 3 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 3 Hours 10 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

This recording of Gershwin's somewhat flawed, overlong (three-plus hours) masterpiece has been the recording of choice since its release in 1989, and it remains so. The cast is close to ideal: Willard White, an old hand as Porgy, is at his best, sympathetic, high-spirited, manly, sensitive; Gregg Baker's Crown leaps out of the speakers; Cynthia Haymon, who avoids the hard edge that has befallen many Besses, sounds as if she means every word; Harolyn Blackwell never has sounded fuller or better than she does here as Clara; Damon Evans' Sportin' Life is almost visible; and the rest of the cast is vividly theatrical. If there is a criticism to be made, it is about Simon Rattle's leadership: he leads this not-very-subtle score with even less Read more subtlety. He underscores passages, emphasizes every other musical phrase, and in general drives the music in a manner that is helpful in the more startling, melodramatic moments, but doesn't allow for much fun or tenderness. Still, don't let this dissuade you; this recording is worth its grand reputation.

--Robert Levine, ClassicsToday.com

"This album certainly deserves its reputation of being an EMI Great Recording of the Century. The singing by everyone is exemplary; Willard White gives a very poignant rendition of the agony Porgy must have felt as an outcast – his final Oh Bess, oh where’s my Bess (as well as his better known numbers like I got plenty o’ nuttin’) is as fine an aria as you’ll ever hear sung in any opera house and his bass voice is as decisive and precise as a knife slicing through butter. His duets with Cynthia Haymon’s Bess are a revelation and Haymon’s solos are equally as impressive. Damon Evans’ tenor voice as Sporting Life holds its own in admirable company and one must sympathise with him for inclining towards the jazz-style of singing that perhaps Gershwin advocated for his character. It is this style of singing and the choral finale that tends to sway me towards thinking this is more a musical than an opera.

The chorus is brilliant, the vividness of the orchestral interludes and the atmospheric music - the hurricane scene is a good example – are all admirably controlled by Sir Simon Rattle. You can tell he started life as a percussionist; his bursts of music are attacked with a gleeful, almost savage, intensity."

-- Randolph Magri-Overend, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Porgy and Bess by George Gershwin
Performer:  Barrington Coleman (Tenor), Ron Travis (Spoken Vocals), Ted Maynard (Spoken Vocals),
Billy J. Mitchell (Spoken Vocals), Alan Tilvern (Spoken Vocals), Marietta Simpson (Mezzo Soprano),
Paula Ingram (Mezzo Soprano), Cynthia Clarey (Soprano), Linda Thompson (Alto),
Curtis [Bass voice] Watson (Bass), Mervin Wallace (Tenor), Autris Paige (Tenor),
Maureen Brathwaite (Mezzo Soprano), Camellia Johnson (Mezzo Soprano), William Johnson (Baritone),
Colenton Freeman (Tenor), Johnny Worthy (Tenor), Gregg Baker (Baritone),
Wayne Marshall (Piano), Bruce Hubbard (Baritone), Cynthia Haymon (Soprano),
Willard White (Bass), Damon Evans (Tenor), Harolyn Blackwell (Soprano),
Hyacinth Nicholls (Mezzo Soprano), Anne Fridal (Mezzo Soprano), Blair Wilson (Tenor),
Richie Pitts (Bass), Jimi Ray Malary (Baritone), Michael Forest (Tenor),
Raemond Martin (Tenor)
Conductor:  Simon Rattle
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra,  Glyndebourne Festival Chorus
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1935; USA 
Date of Recording: 02/1988 
Venue:  EMI Abbey Road Studio No. 1, London 
Length: 189 Minutes 32 Secs. 
Language: English 

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