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Toscanini + Goodman = Gershwin!
George Gershwin, Harry Warren, Zez Confrey
Toscanini + Goodman = Gershwin!
Genres: Jazz, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (8) - Disc #1


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CD Reviews

Toscanini and Gershwin
(4 out of 5 stars)

"...may at first seem an odd combination, but after hearing this disc I can say that these performances give quite a bit of pleasure. The Maestro approaches these pieces with honesty, attention to detail, and rhythmic verve, giving them a lean, taut orchestral sound, which is entirely appropriate. "An American in Paris" is played in a straightforward manner, without stopping long to look at the sights, thereby tightening its loose construction, which was always Gershwin's compositional weakness. The slower sections have a real songfulness and the Charleston episode is played with clear rhythms and "snap". The Rhapsody is given a similar performance, straight and clear. Wild's legendary playing of this piece is colorful and virtuosic. Goodman's short contribution, sadly, is marred by a loud squeak at a change of register.The Concerto is much less successful, but then with all its wonderful thematic material, it is the weakest of the three compossitions. The personal anathema between conductor and soloist is legendary, and it shows. Toscanini attempts to keep the piece moving, to minimize its episodic construction, and Levant clearly resents the constrictions put on him. He jumps entrances and plays with a thin, hard sound, which he did not have in other performances. The tempi are not the right ones, either: the first movement and last movements are both too slow and stiff.These performances are all "live", recorded off the air over an AM transmission, and the transfers are not from "primary" sources. The sound is thin and shallow throughout, both in the broadcasts from Studio 8-H (the Concerto and "Paris") and that of the Rhapsody, from Carnegie Hall."
Great performers = Great performances!
R. Jessen | great music fan from Grand Island, NE | 07/30/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The Toscanini family, over the years, have consistently missed the boat when it comes to re-issuing broadcast material by Arturo Toscanini. These performances by Maestro Toscanini are simply the best these pieces have ever received. The sound isn't great but with such charisma flowing between soloists, orchestra & conductor--who cares? I disagree with music fan from nyc who stated that Levant and Toscanini are at odds with each other. Au contraire! True, there are some slip-ups in the performance but it should be remembered these are live performances and mistakes can happen. That said, Toscanini and Levant strike a unique rapport with each other with Levant being inspired to play better than he would have if Toscanini weren't there. As for the Goodman episode in "Rhapsody"--that again is part of performing music live. Instead of straining at gnats, the overall quality of the performance is overwhelming great. "An American in Paris" is played with 2 slight cuts but is so delightfully done that one can hear Toscanini and the NBC Symphony actually smile as we hear this affectionate performance. The Goodman solos on the three pop songs at the end (skillfully led by MGM's music director Johnny Green) come as very welcome additions indeed! Okay BMG, let's have some more broadcast goodies from the Toscanini archives, like maybe the Schumann 2nd or the Mendelssohn 3rd!"