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PORGY AND BESS (Gershwin) [Import]

Various Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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1. Porgy And Bess: Introduction And Summertime
2. Porgy And Bess: A Woman Is A Sometime Thing
3. Porgy And Bess: Where Is Brudder Robbins?; Gone, Gone, Gone; Overflow
4. Porgy And Bess: My Man's Gone Now
5. Porgy And Bess: Leavin' For The Promise' Lan'
6. Porgy And Bess: I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
7. Porgy And Bess: Bess, You Is My Woman
8. Porgy And Bess: Oh, I Can't Sit Down; I Got Plenty O' Nuttin' (Reprise)
9. Porgy And Bess: It Ain't Necessarily So
10. Porgy And Bess: It's Like Dis, Crown; What You Want Wid Bess?
11. Porgy And Bess: I Loves You, Porgy
12. Porgy And Bess: There's A Boat Dat's Leavin' Soon For New York
13. Porgy And Bess: Oh, Bess, Oh, Where's My Bess; Oh Lawd, I'm On My Way

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Format:Audio CD
I once got into an argument with a friend as to whether Porgy and Bess was an opera or not. My friend insisted that it was definitely not an opera because of the way it was written. He had never seen the score, never listened to any recording of it, even the partial recording then available from Columbia with Avon Long as Sportin' Life. I won the argument.
Then later I purchased the Loren Maazel recording and a copy of the piano score, and suddenly I began wondering if my friend hadn't been right after all. Porgy and Bess is more than just a run-of-the-mill opera. It's a musical drama on the scale of a Wagnerian epic, and yet it deals with the lives of common people. Gershwin had even gone to great lengths to give Dubose Heyward's very shallow book, Porgy, great depth. Heyward's two-dimensional, comic-strip Afro-Americans suddenly seemed to have souls, values, loves, needs, ambitions, all the things that make a people human and noble.
And then came the Houston Grand Opera production of which this is the recording. I actually saw the Houston Grand Opera perform this on stage in Boston, minus Clamma Dale as Bess. I am very grateful for the fact that this recording has chosen to include Ms. Dale, who is the best Bess I have ever heard singing this.
So is this an opera or something else? You'll just have to buy it and find out for yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Exciting Recording of a Masterpiece Sept. 15 1999
Format:Audio CD
Forget the overrated, overblown Simon Rattle version on EMI. This recording, based on the famous Houston Grand Opera production, is the one to have. It has all the precision and musicality of the best opera recordings, yet with the theatrical excitement, the sense of involvement, that you get in the best Broadway cast albums--in fact, this recording was made (in only three days) while the cast was busy performing this production on Broadway.
Where to start in cataloguing the virtues of this set? Well, start with the conducting of John DeMain. His pacing of the work is excellent, balancing the operatic and "popular" elements just right, and never overdoing things (unlike Rattle, who always overdoes things). The orchestra, while clearly smaller than Rattle's London Philharmonic, plays well. Donnie Ray Albert is a fine Porgy, sometimes a bit strained at the top but with generally excellent singing and characterization. Clamma Dale's Bess won her awards and acclaim; she never went on to the stardom that was predicted for her, but luckily her extraordinary performance is preserved on these discs. I could go on, but there's no need, because there are no weak performers in this cast, and they all have the ensemble feel and sense of timing that comes from performing the work on the stage together for so many evenings.
The studio sound is excellent: Producer Thomas Z. Shepard goes all-out for sound effects, atmospheric touches, and stereo movement, all of which enhances the drama and the feeling of experiencing a real performance--but with the advantages that studio recording brings.
Though this is clearly the first choice, there are other good recordings of PORGY.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The best Nov. 16 1999
Format:Audio CD
The previous writer's review is exceptionally insightful and describes perfectly and comprehensively the many merits of this production and this recording. My only previous exposure to a full-length "Porgy" was the Rattle version, which in comparison to this production is found seriously lacking. Owing primarily to its pacing, the quality of the voices, and its effective and sincere characterizations, this production is without a doubt the best uncut version available. What is perhaps most impressive is the degree to which the singers and the orchestra work together to form a true ensemble and the resulting clarity of interpretation. This is not a program of "stars," and the usual "hits" are well-integrated into the fabric of the entire production. Lovely. Certain to become one of the treasures of your collection.
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