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Historic Gershwin Recordings

Various Artists Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Disc: 1
1. Rhapsody in Blue
2. An American in Paris
3. Porgy And Bess: Act 1: Lullaby (Summertime)
4. Porgy And Bess: Act 1: Summertime & Crap Game, A Woman is a Sometime Thing
5. Porgy And Bess: Act 1: My Man's Gone Now
6. Porgy And Bess: Act 2: I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
7. Porgy And Bess: Act 2: The Buzzard Song
8. Porgy And Bess: Act 2: Bess, You Is My Woman Now
9. Porgy And Bess: Act 2: It Ain't Neccesarily So
10. Porgy And Bess: Act 3: Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess?
See all 12 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. An American In Paris
2. Rhapsody in Blue
3. Prelude No. 1 In B Flat
4. Prelude No. 2 In C Sharp Minor
5. Prelude No. 3 In E Flat
6. Solo From Porgy And Bess
7. Suite From Porgy And Bess

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4.0 out of 5 stars Classically American June 18 2000
Format:Audio CD
I bought this cd after seeing Woody Allen's Manhattan. I love Rhapsody in Blue, and this collection's three recordings are diverse and excellent. An American in Paris is also well represented with two distinct and pleasant recordings. This collection loses some points because these "historic" recordings are available only from vynil source, and some static is in the background of some of the older recordings. As well, there is not alot of diversity in the selections. If, however, you like these songs alot, listening to different interpretations of these songs can be a facinating study of some of the greatest classical music of the modern day.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feeling Blue? Try Some Gershwin! May 13 2005
By Jeffrey Lipscomb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Need to hear something that is virtually GUARANTEED to brighten your day? This 2-disc "Historic Gershwin Recordings" set from BMG does it for me EVERY time I hear it. Here's a rundown:

Track 1. The all-time GREATEST Gershwin recording ever made! This is the ORIGINAL 1924 acoustic recording of Gershwin himself playing "Rhapsody In Blue" with Paul Whiteman and his orchestra. This is simply the snappiest, jazziest, most thrilling account EVER recorded. It's abridged and runs just a little over 9 minutes (originally designed to fit two sides of a 78rpm disc). Gershwin didn't have time to orchestrate Rhapsody before its premiere, so this is the very FIRST band arrangement by Ferde Grofe (of later "Grand Canyon Suite" fame). Grofe would re-orchestrate it for Gershwin's 1926 electrical re-make, also abridged, and would do so again in 1942. Nobody does the opening clarinet glissando like Ross Gorman (it was arranged specifically for him), and the whole performance just trots along with incredible commitment and sincerity. If this wonderfully spunky performance doesn't lift your spirits immediately, perhaps you need to see a doctor! By the way, you'll be simply amazed at how GOOD this transfer sounds.

Track 2. Probably the second-greatest Gershwin recording ever made: the ORIGINAL 1929 account of "An American In Paris," conducted by Gershwin's boyhood friend Nathaniel Shilkret. Gershwin himself plays the small parts for piano and celeste! As Charles Levin writes in the notes for another Gershwin set on Pearl CDs, "Apparently Gershwin became such a pest during rehearsals, offering incessant suggestions to Shilkret as to precisely how this or that passage could go, that he was awarded the instrumental parts on condition that he absent himself from the studio until the actual recording!" Shilkret here uses the actual taxi horns that Gershwin brought back from Paris. For me, no other recording comes even close to this one for sheer pizzazz and giddy fun.

Tracks 3-10 feature the original 1935 "Porgy and Bess" excerpts with soprano Helen Jepson & the great American baritone Lawrence Tibbett, and conducted by Alexander Smallens. I find Jepson sympathetic but a little uneven (her "Summertime" doesn't quite compare with Eleanor Steber's on LP, let alone Ella Fitzgerald with Louis Armstong on a London CD called "George Gershwin: The Ultimate Collection"). But Tibbett's wonderfully masculine voice is a real joy to hear (what great diction!). If you still need to cheer up, just listen to his "It ain't necessarily so" and the marvelous "I got plenty o' nuttin."

Track 11. Arthur Fiedler plays "Strike Up The Band." What can I say? At least it's mercifully short (2:17).

Track 12. While a fascinating comparison, the 1927 re-make of "Rhapsody In Blue," again with Gershwin on piano, doesn't have quite the same electricity as the performance on track 1. Still, it's quite delightful (really excelled only by the 1924 version).

That's CD 1. The other CD is generally of lesser interest: 1) Bernstein's first recording of American In Paris is quite similar to his stereo version - neither, to my ears, is as appealing as what's heard on track 2 of the first CD, 2) Morton Gould both plays & conducts Rhapsody in Blue - like everybody else's, it doesn't match Gershwin's 1924 account, but it's jazzier than most and is one of my three favorite modern accounts (the others: Jeffrey Siegel, with Charles Gerhardt conducting, on a deleted Reader's Digest CD set with utterly fabulous recorded sound, and Leonard Pennario with Felix Slatkin on an Angel CD that's still obtainable elsewhere on the internet), 3) the last 5 tracks feature Gould playing three preludes, a solo from Porgy, and then conducting a 30-minute Porgy suite. The latter is very pleasant, but the music really needs the inclusion of singers to make it work most effectively.

An essential part of any Gershwin collection.

Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Historic George Gershwin Nov. 3 2010
By J. loucks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
This CD is fantastic if you are a Gershwin fan! Rhapsody in Blue has always been a classic to me, and to hear both Paul Whiteman AND George Gershwin perform their versions on this CD is so great. If you want to sit down, read a good book, and listen to great music, then this CD is for you. Enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars I love piano music. April 20 2014
By Mimi - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I love Gershwin since I first heard Rhapsody in Blue when I was a kid in Europe. I knew that is was New York, although I only knew the name of the city.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Paul Whiteman 1924 recording of Rhapsody in Blue May 24 2013
By Joseph R. Stanley - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I like it rather than love it in contexts of its 1924 syncopated beats and rhythms. I am moved more by the modern renditions with their rich orchestrations and short pauses. I am happy I ordered it for perspective and its historic value.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting amalgam of recordings April 28 2013
By Stewart Gooderman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Of particular interest to me on this two disc set were the Porgy and Bess recordings made soon after the work premiered on Broadway starring Lawrence Tibbett and Helen Jepson. These are seldom included on other compilations as far as I know, so their digitization was most welcome.

It's interesting how much better the 1924 acoustic Rhapsody sounds as compared to the 1927 electrical. Is this a transfer issue? Also, the October 1949 Bernstein conducted American in Paris sounds like it was lifted from vinyl. Was not RCA Victor using tape by then? Possibly not.
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