Since September 2010, this blog has recorded the journey of this middle-aged man as I attempt to listen to all the music in my CD collection. CDs revisited in their entirety from start to finish - no skipping tracks, no shuffle. CDs only - no vinyl, no tapes, no downloads. And just as CD technology (and the album format itself) becomes obsolete. I'm no music critic, just a music junkie with too much time on my hands.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

George Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue (1985)

André Previn playing piano and conducting the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Recorded in Pittsburgh, May, 1984.

On this disc: a lackluster performance of an overplayed piece, a good performance of an underplayed piece, and a poor performance of a forgettable piece.

Rhapsody In Blue (1924):  An experiment in composition (which is appreciated) in which there is no semblance of musical form (which is not).   The themes are highly memorable with some beautiful soaring melodies, but they're just strung together in no particular order.  The piece was a warhorse of the orchestral pops repertoire throughout the 20th century, but I don't see it offered much anymore - possibly because of overexposure in advertising for United Airlines since the 1980's.  The performance on this disc is fairly bland, especially considering Previn's experience as a jazz pianist.

An American In Paris (1928): this tone poem is a better composition that Rhapsody In Blue IMO; Gershwin doesn't seem to be taking himself as seriously with this one.  Gershwin's composing was improving with experience; his early death from a brain tumor was a great loss for American music.  The orchestra here plays clean and light, which is perfect for this music.  Easily the highpoint of the disc.

Piano Concerto In F (1925): This piece, while having slightly more structure than the previous two, just doesn't have the hummable melodies that the others do.  There are better Gershwin pieces and better piano concertos, so I'm guessing this piece will slowly fade into obscurity.  The performance here is horrible.  It sounds as if the orchestra is sightreading the piece just so they'll have another Gershwin work to fill up space on the CD.

Personal Memory Associated with this CD: A very early CD purchase from the late '80s.

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