Dennis L. (doc) from BAY POINT, CA Reviewed on 1/22/2013...
This is a treat to have and much better quality than I expected given that it was recorded on a piano roll.
It's marvelous to have the piano solos recorded by George Gershwin himself. I have several recordings of Rhapsody in Blue, and now I know how he interpreted it himself.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gershwin plays again through magic of piano rolls....
Alex Diaz-Granados | Miami, FL United States | 01/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Once upon a time in America, player pianos -- which were modified pianos with internal mechanisms that read "piano rolls" very much like computers today read, say, CD-ROM discs -- were "the" big thing in popular American music. I first saw one at the Miami Museum of Science many years ago, and I was enthralled by what (to a 12-year-old boy) was a pretty neat sight -- a piano that played by itself! At the time, Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" rag was in vogue (The Sting had been a big hit movie at the time), and I stayed at that part of the museum, listening to the melody from a long-gone era and watching the keyboard move as if a ghost had decided the museum was too darned quiet and wanted to hear some happy tunes of the past.George Gershwin grew up in the early part of the 20th Century and thus had first-hand experience with player pianos, as the liner notes by Artis Woodhouse explain in "Gershwin Plays Gershwin," a 12-track collection of piano rolls arranged and performed by Gershwin, whose short life (he, like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, died before reaching his 40th year) nevertheless left behind a rich musical legacy for lovers of American pop, jazz, and even classical music with such works as "Rhapsody in Blue," "An American in Paris," "Porgy and Bess," "Girl Crazy," and "Someone to Watch Over Me.""Rhapsody in Blue" and "An American in Paris," which are normally performed by pianists accompanied by big orchestras, are perhaps the best known works to the general audience; they are often performed by symphony orchestras during "pops" concerts in the summer and, in the case of "Rhapsody in Blue," used in television commercials and movies. (To this day, I can't listen to "Rhapsody in Blue" without thinking of United Airlines' "Fly the friendly skies" ad campaign." Heard as piano pieces only, these two jazz-classical fusions still capture the essence of Gershwin's Jazz Age joy for life and, by extension, America's pre-Great Depression jauntiness, optimism, and even naivete. Other musical jewels include such songs as "Swanee" (made famous by Al Jolson), "When You Want 'Em, You Can't Get 'Em, When You Got 'Em, You Don't Want 'Em," "Sweet and Lowdown," "So Am I," "Kickin' The Clouds Away," and "On My Mind the Whole Night Long."And because Gershwin himself had to do much of the piano rolls' "programming" (Mr. Woodhouse explains it better in the liner notes), listening to "Gershwin Plays Gershwin" is like going back to the first decades of the last century and being at one of the composer/pianist's live performances."
Beautiful, simply beautiful
macktheknife | Northern, CA | 02/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I had purchased this CD in a used bin from my local record store more than six years ago. I had heard a brief news story on this CD from CNN, and I decided to take a chance on this ... bargain.Boy, did I ever make the right call. I knew almost next to nothing about George Gershwin, but the music on this CD was simply too magical. All the familiar melodies and song I had heard one time or another in my life (like the United Airlines commercial from "Rhapsody in Blue") jumped right from my boombox. You can feel Gershwin's energy and intensity in each and every one of these songs, and there were times that I would be swept away in excitement by the speed and emotions.I know I did a poor job in describing this CD, but I can guarantee you that if you like piano melodies, this CD should definitely belong in your collection. After all these years, it is still one of my favorites."
Gershwin Plays Gershwin! Really!
Alex Diaz-Granados | 12/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"These recordings are based upon Duoart Piano Rolls Gershwin made around 1924.In the twenties, player pianos were all the rage. They were, and still are, a technological wonder.
The standard player piano is not capable of any expression. Across the entire keyboard, each and every note is played at the same level of force and volume. That is the reason that music played on run of the mill player pianos tends to sound somewhat automatic/artificial.The Reproducing Piano (for which Gershwin cut these rolls) is a horse of a very different color. Reproducing Pianos (the Duoart, the Ampico, the Welte Mignon, etc.) are nothing short of amazing.The Reproducing Piano had/has the capability of applying varied and separate force/attack to individual sections of the keyboard (if not individual notes). Honest to goodness; when one hears a Reproducing Piano in person, they sound exactly like a pianist playing live.I have several of the Gershwin Piano Rolls (including Rhapsody in Blue) which I delight in playing on my standard player piano.
QRS, (a piano roll company which has been in business for a little more than a century) offers some of the Gershwin rolls. But the QRS rolls are in standard format. No expression.As much as I enjoy my Gershwin piano rolls, it is a real eye opener to hear the Duoart originals. The Reproducing Piano on which these were played makes all the difference in the world."
Like being transported back in time
Deborah Torgler | Lincoln, NE USA | 06/23/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Through some technological wizardry spelled out in the liner notes, piano rolls recorded by George Gershwin in the early 20th Century have been rerecorded for our listening pleasure. It's kind of eerie, actually, but if these are true to George Gershwin's real playing, you actually can imagine him sitting at an upright piano, cigar in his mouth (well, that's how they show him in the picture!), and playing with joy and energy and not a little skill.You can hear interpretations of his songs everywhere. There is hardly a recording artist alive who hasn't recorded a Gershwin song. But to be able to hear him play the songs himself is truly a gift, like you were Fred or Adele Astaire in 1922 sitting in a room in Tin Pan Alley, listening to the young songwriter plug his songs for your new show. Wow.This CD includes a 14 minute version of "Rhapsody in Blue" and a 16 minute "American in Paris", plus songs from his early shows (George White's Scandals of 1920, Tip-Toes, Lady, Be Good!) and a couple of other numbers.Volume 2 of the Piano Rolls has songs from many other composers (still wonderful); Volume 1 is an all-Gershwin program. Buy it."
Deborah Torgler | 05/29/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Nowadays, a performer plays Gershwin the way they play everything else in their repetoire. Joshua Bell, for instance, plays Gershwin like Tchaikovsky concertos, and it seems to be chic to play Gershwin slow and romantically. Gershwin played pop music from the 1920's (REALLY WELL i might add)and this is REALLY how HE played. It was meant to be dance music, and sing along music. His pianistic skills are however not cheesy, but brilliant and virtuosic.Theres nothing wrong with performers playing Gershwin from extremely different perspectives, but I think it is great that this CD enables us to enjoy Gershwin as it was originally done. Unfortunately, musicians just arent familiar or respectful to this unfortunately rarely heard "piano plugger style.""