Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Gershwin, Paul Whiteman and his Concert Orchestra, Beiderbecke|
Gershwin and Grofe'
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Rock, Classical, Classic Rock
If you like the "Grand Canyon Suite", this is a MUST!
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I grew up with the Grand Canyon Suite. It may be the first classical piece my parents ever played on their new "Hi-Fi". The recording was done by Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra in, I think, the late 1950s. While browsing around for a copy, I found this version by Paul Whiteman. I knew that Grofe' had written and first arranged it for Whiteman's orchestra, but I didn't know it had been recorded. I was immediately taken by it, bought a copy, and then bought a copy for my parents and each of my siblings. It's a remarkable performance, especially considering that Whiteman led an orchestra of only 25 pieces. His players had a reputation for solid musicianship, and it's evident here. I really enjoy their version of "On The Trail"; it's simply the best rendition I've ever heard. Modern concertmasters tend to "hot dog" the opening solo, and conductors race through the final section. Neither of these sins is committed here. Part of the charm of the performance is the fact that it's definitely dated. I'm guessing this is the original recording (1932; Whiteman introduced it in 1931). I enjoy listening to the saxophones, muted trombones, and slightly overpowering trumpets. However, some portions were clearly improved when Grofe' arranged them for full orchestra, most notably "Cloudburst"."
Finally, a reissue of the original "Grand Canyon"!
Lee Hartsfeld | Central Ohio, United States | 12/25/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Finding the first recording of Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite" by Paul Whiteman on four 12" 78-rpm discs 25 years ago was the high point of my music-collecting career--and so it has remained. Over the years, I've waited patiently for this remarkable recording to be reissued (to the best of my knowledge, it has never existed outside of 78-rpm form!), and now we have it on CD courtesy of the saints at Pearl Records, a label that knows how to restore vintage sound without ruining it. Those who have never heard the work in its original thirty-piece (or so) orchestration are in for a major treat.Get this one!"
Vintage Historical Recordings
Jeffrey Lipscomb | Sacramento, CA United States | 05/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Pearl set contains the first-ever CD release of the original Paul Whiteman recordings of "Grand Canyon Suite" (from 1932) and "Mississippi Suite" (1927). Both performances use forces (likely 25-30 players) far smaller than what we typically hear today, and the music is performed with extraordinary zest & commitment. These are unique readings "from the source," a quaint and rather eerie trip into the past that's a must-hear for Grofe fans. In modern sound, my full orchestra versions of the Grand Canyon are by Morton Gould on RCA (great sound, coupled with some outstanding Copland) and Felix Slatkin on EMI (which is paired with Grofe conducting his Death Valley Suite). The Mississippi Suite has been stunningly recorded by an ad hoc Dutch ensemble similar in size to Whiteman's. It's called the Beau Hunks (on the Basta CD label - see my review). I think that's by far the best stereo account.
This first-ever 1928 recording of Gershwin's "Concerto in F" has pianist Roy Bargy, cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, with Whiteman conducting. It's slightly abridged, with Gershwin's orchestration adapted by Grofe for Whiteman's smaller orchestra. The performance is fabulous: jazzy, jaunty and just plain exhilarating. After hearing it, I decided to weed both my Previns and the Wild/Fiedler and keep just one stereo account as a supplement: the wonderfully spontaneous Raymond Lewenthal with conductor Oscar Danon (mine's on deleted Reader's Digest, but it's also available on a Chesky CD in great sound).
The "Rhapsody in Blue" (1927) is also abridged (it runs 9 minutes versus the usual 16 or so). This was Gershwin's second recording as pianist with Whiteman (the first version from 1924 was acoustic - this one's electrical). I still find the earlier account more electrifying: Ross Gorman's opening clarinet solo "laughs" a lot more, for one thing. But if the 1924 version is the best-ever, this one is a close second. My two favorite modern recordings: 1) pianist Jeffrey Siegel, with Charles Gerhardt conducting, on an out of print Readers Digest 2-disc set that was better conducted than Siegel's later account with Leonard Slatkin (son of Felix) on Vox, and 2) Leonard Pennario with Felix Slatkin and the Hollywood Bowl Symphony (Angel CD, not available at Amazon but obtainable elsewhere on the internet).
For the Grofe, this set is self-recommending: it's one of a kind. However, both of these Gershwin performances have been issued elsewhere. The Concerto in F is also on "From Gershwin's Time" (Sony MH2K 60648) in a somewhat smoother transfer (apparently it's out of print). The 1927 Rhapsody is also available in an identical transfer on the 2-disc Pearl set "George Gershwin Plays George Gershwin" AND on a 2-disc BMG offering called "Historic Gershwin Recordings" (see my review). BMG's transfer is less noisy than Pearl's. As a hapless victim of duplicated CD material, I own all three.
Highly recommended, especially for the otherwise un-available original recordings of the Grofe suites."