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Preludes, Fugues and Riffs: Jazz in Classical Music
George Gershwin, Darius Milhaud, Aaron Copland
Preludes, Fugues and Riffs: Jazz in Classical Music
Genres: Jazz, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (13) - Disc #1

Musical hybrids are always a dicey venture, running the risk of the whole's being less than the sum of the parts. Discussing the incorporation of jazz in classical music (or vice versa) can involve a quagmire of definition...  more »

      
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Musical hybrids are always a dicey venture, running the risk of the whole's being less than the sum of the parts. Discussing the incorporation of jazz in classical music (or vice versa) can involve a quagmire of definitions. Instead, it is best to judge the works individually on their musical merits. All those represented here succeed to a greater or lesser degree. This disc opens with Gershwin's Manhattan anthem, Rhapsody in Blue, among the first to mix the two genres and yet to be bettered for seamlessness. Conductor Bernstein's love and understanding of the jazz idiom imbues works by Milhaud (La Création du monde) and Copland ("Burlesque" from Music for the Theatre [sic]) with the requisite swing to make their jazz influences ring true. But it is composer Bernstein (Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs for Solo Clarinet and Jazz Ensemble, West Side Story) who blends the two genres into a brew that is less noble experiment and more ecstatic experience. Recommended. --Michael Ross

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CD Reviews

Almost perfect
06/23/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is really a very interesting disc. The selection of classical works with a jazz influence puts some great recordings on this disc, especially the jazzier and faster than normal recording of Rhapsody in Blue. While the disc is interesting, I don't thik it's one of those discs one can just listen to - some of the peices don't seem to lend themselves to that. Still, the liner notes are great, and the selection is really quite good. This may be my favorite recording of Rhapsody in Blue ever!"
Classical-jazz fusion was never more alive than on this CD
Santa Fe Listener | Santa Fe, NM USA | 06/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This NPR compilation from Sony brings together some of Bernstein's jazziest recordings during his heyday with the NY Phil., including the best of his three versions of Milhaud's "Le Creation du Monde." LB was attached to this piece, but his late- Seventies reading on EMI has hardening of the arteries and his 1945 debut recording predates LP. Milhaud created a minor masterpiece of jazzy classicism in this work, and LB gives us a swinging take.

His own Prelude, Fugue, and Riff is just as good a piece, and here there's no hesitaiton in saying that Bernstein's reading, featuring the NY Phil's legendary first clarinetist Stanley Drucker, is definitive, as is his recording of Music for the Theater by his mentor, Aaron Copland. When I was a kid in the Fifties, all these pieces still had a lot of juice, and although the landscape has changed, for me they still do. The immortal chestnut on this CD is, of course, Rhapsody in Blue, tossed off by Tilson Thomas in the original jazz band orchestration and done faster than we generally hear the piece, thanks to the gimmick of having the ocmposer himself dubbed in as the soloist. It's a gimmich but fun for a listen or two. Gershwin rips through the Rhapsody in 13 min. flat--about 5 min. faster than normal--and MTT is hard-pressed to adjust to the composer's many sudden tempo changes."