These are performances of proven pedigree, the only reservations being Bernstein's heavily cut and somewhat ponderous (at least in the closing pages) version of Rhapsody in Blue. Like almost everything Bernstein did, it's full of character, but whether or not this means character of the right sort will be very much a matter of individual taste. No such reservations accompany the performance of An American in Paris, which has all of the requisite panache and not a shred of vulgarity or cheapness. It's a loving, vital, even moving performance as memorable for the nostalgic (but not too schmaltzy) central interlude as for its brasher episodes. It is, in fact, a touch reserved in such places as the big jazz tune on trumpet that precedes theRead more return to the opening, and serves as proof positive that Bernstein's head was as much a factor in his performances as was his heart.
The Grofé receives a smashing performance, highly colored in the closing "Cloudburst" and deliciously sly in "On the Trail", but again never maudlin or trashy. It goes without saying that Benny Goodman and the Columbia Jazz Combo turn in as distinguished an account of Prelude, Fugue and Riffs as any. The remastered sound doesn't improve hugely on previous issues, but then it didn't really have to. This is good late-'50s/early-'60s stereo that won't win any audiophile awards but nevertheless suits the performances and never comes between the music and the listener. Very good then, if you can live with Bernstein's (as opposed to Gershwin's) Rhapsody--and who wouldn't want to do that?
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Rhapsody in Blueby George Gershwin Performer:
Leonard Bernstein (Piano)
Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century Written: 1924; USA Date of Recording: 06/23/1959 Venue: Hotel St. George, Brooklyn, New York Length: 16 Minutes 24 Secs. Notes: Orchestrated: Ferde Grofé
An American in Parisby George Gershwin Conductor:
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1928; USA Date of Recording: 12/21/1958 Venue: Hotel St. George, Brooklyn, New York Length: 18 Minutes 22 Secs.
Grand Canyon Suiteby Ferde Grofé Performer:
John Corigliano Sr. (Violin)
New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century Written: 1931; USA Date of Recording: 05/20/1963 Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC Length: 33 Minutes 5 Secs.
Prelude, Fugue and Riffsby Leonard Bernstein Performer:
Benny Goodman (Clarinet)
Columbia Jazz Band
Period: 20th Century Written: 1949/1955; USA
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