J H Murphy | Agoura, California USA | 06/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This could be titled "Gershwin's Greatest Hits" - I can't think of anything major missing from his orchestral pieces. The performances are very good throughout - Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Orchestra took the more symphonic pieces, and the Boston Pops with Arthur Fiedler did the show tunes. Frank Chacksfield and His Orchestra contributed the suite from Porgy and Bess. The liner notes, by noted historian David McCullough, are a useful addition.The only flaw I can recount is that the beginning first few notes of the famous clarinet solo in Rhapsody In Blue are a bit low in volume - I have to fiddle with the volume when listening to that piece. I don't think this is the only recording with that condition, though.Overall, highly recommended both as an introduction to Gershwin and as a compendium for those already familiar with his works."
Perfect Introduction to Gershwin
John Hopfensperger | Midland, MI | 03/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This budget-priced disc comes into direct competition with a full-priced release by DG with big names James Levine and the Chicago Symphony performing the same program. (Well, Levine plays a different, and to my ears inferior, arrangement of Porgy and Bess tunes.)
How does this one compare? Frankly, it's even better. Everything but Porgy and Bess is performed by Lorin Maazel and the Cleveland Symphony -- not your usual budget-label ensembles, to say the least! I tend to prefer the jazz-band arrangement of the Rhapsody (found in the DG release) as opposed to the full-orchestra arrangement on this disc. However, I have a good friend who considers this Rhapsody to be his favorite performance, so you should probably hear both. (Bernstein's is the most famous recording of the full orchestra version while Tilson Thomas performs and conducts my favorite jazz band version.)
The other works are also quite excellent, particularly the lesser-known Cuban Overture, which fans of Gershwin should definitely hear. The redoubtable Antal Dorati leads the underrated Detroit Symphony in a jubilant Porgy and Bess Suite in a fine early-digital recording, which is only slightly less polished than the late-analog Cleveland recordings.
Good performances, good sound, good deal. It's that simple.
4.5 / 5"