""This piece (Rhapsody In Blue) seemed to sweep through my mind. It was the heart of America, the feverishness of life, the musical welter of races, of peoples, their joys and their passions, their dissipations and their exaltations." ~ George Gershwin (September 26, 1898 - July 11, 1937) ~
Today, July 11, 2006, marks the 69th death anniversary of one of America's most versatile songwriters, George Gershwin. The birth of one of my favorite jazz-infused-classical pieces, "Rhapsody In Blue" in 1924 made Mr. Gershwin an overnight and sensational star and had gained him a worldwide recognition. He had been my late parents' (and mine, too) favorite composer along with Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter. His harmonious collaboration with his brother, Ira Gershwin, had produced the most beautiful songs of all-time. They were the most prolific team of songwriters and their compositions have been recorded countless times by famous interpreters of Great American Songbook such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass, Michael Feinstein, Natalie Cole, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Steve Tyrell, Diana Krall, John Pizzarelli, Michael Bublé and Chris Botti, among many others.
This CD is a musical treasure and one that I would strongly recommend not only to any Gershwin enthusiast but also to any new fan for this includes the original recording of "Rhapsody In Blue" from rare Piano Rolls. The sound quality is just terrific. It highlights two of his major works - "Rhapsody In Blue" (1924) and "An American In Paris" (1928). It also features some of his well-known popular songs and favorites of mine, my parents' theme songs "Our Love Is Here To Stay" and "Embraceable You." It has been said that Mr. Gershwin functioned best and had written his very best compositions at 3 o'clock in the morning and when he finish eight bars that he likes, he can finish a chorus in a few minutes, like the songs "`S Wonderful" and "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off." This recording also includes "Swanee," "Walkin' The Dog," "Somebody Loves Me," and "Oh, Lady Be Good."
It's so amazing that he composed frequently and never run out of inspirations for writing melodic tunes that are so pleasing to the ears. He can write three to five songs in a single afternoon. When he completed the melody of a song, he gives it to Ira to write words to it. He was such a genius and played the piano by ear after a fashion, tapping out the tunes with a finger.
Not known to many, Mr. Gershwin had tried his hand at painting. I've seen a portrait of himself that he painted a year before his death from brain cancer, and I would say, it's a beautiful work of art, almost like a work of a professional painter. He could have been a great painter.
George Gershwin will always be remembered as one of the greatest 20th Century composers and his music will always linger in the hearts of music lovers like me who truly appreciate and enjoy fine music. "
Let the Buyer Beware
Three and Out | Chicago, IL USA | 01/11/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I do not disagree on any level with the other reviewers of this CD. However, the content is recorded from piano rolls rather than directly from the artist. This fact is not explicitly presented on the web page. Yes, if one clicks on the CD cover photo to get an enlarged image, one can read "First recording 1924 from rare piano rolls" at the bottom in small type. Not everyone will do this however. For this reason alone I only rate this product 3 stars."
Gershwin's Piano Rolls
D. Mesirow | 12/22/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation of Gershwin selections taken from the piano rolls of the composer offer a perfect introduction to the music of Gershwin, offering a balance between his serious symphonic pieces and his accessible popular songs.
Beginning with two of his concert works, "The Rhapsody in Blue" and "An American in Paris," the CD just hints at what the composer accomplished in the concert hall and the world of symphonic music. The "Rhapsody in Blue" was originally performed at a concert titled 'An Experiment in Modern Music' in 1924 at Aeolian Hall in New York. The piece was performed by an orchestra with Paul Whiteman as director, and with the composer at the piano as part of a concert experiment in jazz. The version on this CD is a piano adaptation created by the composer based off of the original symphonic work.
"An American in Paris" is another popular concert piece by George Gershwin. It was intended by the composer to capture the emotions of a American tourist visiting Paris, and was performed in 1928 at New York's Carnegie Hall with Walter Damrosch conducting the New York Philharmonic. The piece mixed reviews at the time but remains a favorite of Gershwin's classical works. Like the "Rhapsody in Blue" the version included here is a piano adaptation of the original orchestral work.
The remaining works on the CD are taken from the piano rolls of George Gershwin's popular songs, which came from Broadway musicals and film scores. No other American composer (or any for that matter) has strattled the concert hall, tin pan alley, Broadway, film, popular music, and achieved the level of musical success that George Gershwin did.
Gershwin's popular songs, among them, "Embraceable You," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," and "Love is Here to Stay" have achieved enormous pop culture penetration and secure Gershwin's place in history as a master of popular song composition. Notably missing from this CD, however, are Ira Gershwin's contributions, i.e. the words, which add an important element to these songs' true place in history. Along with Ira's contributions come the countless vocal interpreters - Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole - who helped to popularize and put these songs into their true place in history.
The songs on this record contain the stripped-down, simplified music itself. On these versions, it is simply what Gershwin would have played himself. (The recordings are taken from piano rolls, not an actual live recording). The beauty, simplicity, and mastery that Gershwin demonstrates in his compositions makes him and the many artists he worked with worth listening to."
Mark A. Krosse | Westport, CT USA | 07/12/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"This is lifeless robo-music, a replay of the piano rolls available elsewhere. For the real recordings of Gershwin playing Gershwin from the 20's and 30's, see "Gershwin Playing Gershwin" with Paul Whiteman and the Van Eps Quartet on the Naxos label, ASIN: B000053HK5, also partly available as an MP3 download elsewhere on amazon.com"