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Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Strike up the Band Overture; Etc / Falletta, Buffalo Philharmonic

Release Date: 06/25/2013 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8559750   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  George Gershwin
Performer:  Orion WeissJohn Fullam
Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 0 Hours 54 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

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
Read more 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!

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
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Works on This Recording

Porgy and Bess: Suite "Catfish Row" by George Gershwin
Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936; USA 
Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
Performer:  Orion Weiss (Piano)
Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1924; USA 
Strike up the Band: Overture by George Gershwin
Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1927/1929; New York, USA 
Shall We Dance: Promenade "Walking the dog" by George Gershwin
Performer:  John Fullam (Clarinet)
Conductor:  JoAnn Falletta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1936-1937; USA 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 Wonderful CD August 11, 2013 By Joe S. See All My Reviews "I have always been a very big Gershwin fan, so I was very excited to listen to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra’s all-Gershwin album. Though I’m not sure how many different American recordings of “Rhapsody in Blue” need to come out, I’m very glad to have all these pieces on one album. You not only get each piece on its own, but a unity of interpretation that is very cool to hear. 1. Strike Up The Band: Overture Very colorful orchestration- very well done. It’s certainly not Gerwshin’s greatest work ever, but it’s a very attractive piece with a great performance. This overture isn’t like your Rodger’s and Hammerstein overture where you clearly distinguish every single tune in the show. You get glimpses throughout, but only in the later tunes do the melodies really emerge. If I had to open an orchestra concert with Gershwin, I’d still probably use “Cuban Overture”, but it’s still a great piece. 2. Rhapsody in Blue The album notes justifies yet another recording of Rhapsody in Blue by saying that this version attempts to adhere very closely to the tempi that Gershwin himself played on the piano rolls. At times, yes, they are quite lively, but I never really hear them straying too far from older, canonical recordings. Still though, when the slow lyrical theme comes in at around 12:00, it is seriously gratifying. Ferde Grofé is really the unsung hero of this piece, as colorful Grofé orchestration comes out better than ever in this recording. 3. Promenade I’ve had an old Richard Stoltzman CD for the past 10 years that has an arrangement of this same tune on it. This arrangement is much more colorful and interesting. John Fullam’s clarinet work is just great, and I especially enjoyed the prominence of the piano. I really think this version is going to steal the place I have in my heart for the Stoltzman version. 4. Catfish Row This piece does a wonderful job of showcasing the different sides of Gershwin. At times, there are beautiful tunes, and at other times, complex, aggressive music that’s still catchy! From the opening xylophone riffs in the opening, you can make no mistake that this is Gershwin at his peak. I almost wish this piece were first on the CD. The tunes (“Summertime”, “I got plenty of nothin’”, “Bess, You is my Woman Now” etc.) are transcendent as ever. While the liner notes draw parallels from this music to the music of Bernstein, I think a more compelling parallel would be to Alban Berg’s opera, “Wozzeck”. Berg’s influence looms large in this piece, not only in the more complex music, but also in the organization of the piece as a whole. Take a listen sometime if you haven’t. It’s truly one of the greatest operas of the 20th century (at least!)." Report Abuse
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