Superb "American in Paris"; the rest is underrehearsed
John Grabowski | USA | 10/18/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Get ready for a terrific American in Paris, filled with Previn's swagger and jauntiness. This plays like film music, and it's no wonder the conductor was at home. The rest of the disc is far more problematic. The Rhapsody is ill-conceived and sounds under-rehearsed. There's not much sense of build. This is somewhat "top-heavy" music to start with, and you have to play it for all its worth. Leonard Bernstein still does the best performance (as both conductor and pianist) I've ever heard, even though he cuts the middle section. (It's better that way; Gershwin sometimes let structure get away from him.) And the Concerto in F is an abomination. It sounds more like a rehearsal than a performance. Previn skims some notes and doesn't voice all the chords. There's no strong rhythm (essential in this work) and the accents are missing. The Pittsburghers sound like they're trudging along. They loved being conducted by Previn and they made some great recordings under his baton, but this isn't one of them.Sound is okay, though a bit bottom-heavy and "tubby." Some of the dynamics sound exaggerated to me--the bass drum and cymbals EXPLODE through the speakers at times. All in all, you can do better for two of three of these works, so I wouldn't grab this disc unless 1) I found it used very cheap (Amazon will probably edit that remark out) or 2) I'm an "American in Paris" fanatic who is willing to pay anything for a good recording of that work."
Exceptional Performances of Gershwin's Orchestral Music
John Kwok | New York, NY USA | 04/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't know whether these are definitive performances of Gershwin's orchestral music, but if they're not then they should be. Previn does a marvellous job as a conductor and soloist who has a great affinity and compassion for Gershwin's music. Indeed, Previn is as much at home playing jazz music as he is conducting Rachmaninov. These are warm, no nonsense readings of Gershwin's music that lack the flamboyance of Bernstein's interpretations with the New York Philharmonic and Los Angeles Philharmonic. Previn produces a warm, vibrant sound from the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Once again Philips has excelled in producing a well-balanced digital recording. If you're a fan of Gershwin or 20th Century Classical Music (or both) then this splendid recording belongs in your CD collection."
Authentic Gershwin sound! Ten stars!
Joseph Montano | Phoenix, Arizona | 07/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I never really agreed with Bernstein's take on Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue and American in Paris. After listening to Previn's version, I was blown away by the jazzy classic sounds of Gershwin in clear digitized sound. And I even found a new work to love: the Piano Concerto in F really steals the show! I never really cared for it until I heard Previn's conduction on this piece. As for An American in Paris, we really see Gershwin's obvious loneliness that he experienced in the fine portions of France. With the sad wailing brass sections and lonely violins. Rhapsody in Blue makes you want to go psycho out in the streets to the tunes. Umm.. See for yourself on this truly American compact disc containing crisp music from one of the greatest classical/jazz artists in America!"
I Love this Recording
gobirds2 | New England | 08/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Andre Previn really found musical kinship with Gershwin's compositions. We feel the loneliness in "An American in Paris" and an almost adulation in "Rhapsody in Blue" unlike other famous interpretations and renditions. Like many other film composers born overseas, Previn born in 1926 Berlin, Germany seems to have been intoxicated by the feel for the multifaceted makeup of the American landscapes be they natural or man-made. Many of these composers such as Dimitri Tiomkin, Franz Waxman and Max Steiner seem to have adopted their new home with energetic reverence and exuberance for the very essence of the land and people of America. Andre Previn even though he emigrated in a generation latter demonstrated the same zeal as these great composers. The performances of George Gershwin's music on this CD are testament to Previn's coming to America."
Great American music from a great American orchestra!
Timothy Mikolay | Pittsburgh, PA | 08/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"One of the most captivating aspects of a Gershwin piece is its built in "urban" sound. One can see traffic and people scurrying about, bright lights and flickering marquis shining up and down the avenues, and even a sense of lonliness or self contemplation from a lone boarder in a lost tenament; if you have grown up near to or lived a city life, this music seems to romanticize this and this recording best exemplifies it.
Previn's readings, while a different caliber than Bernstein's or even the Wild/Fiedler couplings, has always been the more laid back interpreter which works quite well with jazzy Gershwin pieces. A real treasure of this album is how the old Heinz Hall acoustic (gone forever now since Maazel butchered it) captured Previn and the Pittsburgh orchestra in such an American sounding reading, not even symphony hall in Boston compares. I once listened to a Slovak orchestra attempt Gershwin and it sounded too European to even bother with. True, the cymbal and bass drum on this disc jump out of your speakers but that's because the symphony's percussion have historically offered nothing less than lax readings, always out of balance with the ensmeble. I do think Stanley Leonard's opening tympani performance in the Piano Concerto is as in tune and balanced as I've ever heard.
This album was recorded at the time Previn stepped down from his post with the Pittsburgh. The Gershwin pieces were his last offerings to the public as the symphony's music director that year and there really is a lot of beautiful music making here. This is a great disc for the interpretations and for the spectacular acoustics captured by the Philips engineers. Although a 23 old recording, the works are as fresh and alive as the day Previn and the Pittsburgh recorded them."