Eroica Trio – Plays Gershwin, Ravel, Godard & Schoenfield (1997)

FrontCover1The Eroica Trio is an American piano trio consisting of Erika Nickrenz, piano; Sara Parkins, violin; and Sara Sant’Ambrogio, cello.

The trio take their name from Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony. They have toured and recorded widely, and released six recordings for Angel/EMI Classics Records, garnering multiple Grammy Award nominations.

The founding members of the trio were Nickrenz, Sant’Ambrogio, and Adela Peña. They were all trained at the Juilliard School. In addition to being accomplished musicians, the Eroica Trio have attracted attention in the chamber music world from some as physically attractive, stylishly dressed women.

The trio took first prize in the prestigious Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Competition in 1991. Their first compact disc recording Eroica Trio won National Public Radio’s 1997 Performance Today Award for “Debut Recording of the Year.”

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In addition to touring with a varied piano trio repertoire, the Eroica Trio often appear in concert with major orchestras performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto.

The Eroica Trio commissioned a triple concerto by American composer Kevin Kaska. It was premiered by the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra in November 2001. They have also commissioned several works from American composer Bruce Wolosoff, including “The Loom,” inspired by the watercolors of Eric Fischl; that work was released on the Montage Music Society’s album Creating Music Inspired by Visual Art. (wikipedia)

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Among the best-known piano trios, the Eroica Trio is also one of the most successful all-women chamber ensembles in the world. Winners of the 1991 Walter W. Naumburg Chamber Music Competition, the ensemble went on to a successful debut at Lincoln Center and several tours of the United States, Europe, and Asia. The trio quickly gained a reputation for passion and excitement in its performances and for innovative programs.

Pianist Erika Nickrenz, who began playing piano at age six and performed her first concerto at 11, has received the Rockefeller Award and has been featured in the PBS series Live from Lincoln Center.

Australian violinist Susie Park, who replaced founding member Adela Peña in 2006, has won top honors in the Indianapolis, Menuhin, and Wieniawski International Violin Competitions, and has appeared as soloist with the Indianapolis Symphony, as well as with the Korean KBS Orchestra and orchestras in Sydney and Melbourne. Cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio has won many international competitions and received a medal at the International Tchaikovsky Violoncello Competition. She has toured extensively as a soloist and played with orchestras in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, St. Louis, Moscow, and Izmir. She has released several solo CDs and joined in crossover performances with Rufus Wainwright, VAST, Angela McCluskey, and hip-hop artist Beatrice.

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The group took its name from Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major, “Eroica.” It is one of the most active piano trios in the field of orchestral performance, and plays more concerts of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto than any other trio. It commissioned a triple concerto from composer Kevin Kaska, which was premiered in 2001 with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. The Eroica Trio also premiered Tango for Seven by Raimundo Penaforte, composed for an innovative combination of string trio plus string quartet, and which was premiered with the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

Recording for Angel/EMI Classics, the Eroica Trio’s repertoire has included the music of Maurice Ravel, Sergey Rachmaninov, Dmitry Shostakovich, and Antonin Dvorák, as well as lighter fare by George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, Astor Piazzolla, and Mark O’Connor. (by Rovi Staff)

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And here´s their first album:

One of the most sought-after trios in the world, the Eroica Trio thrills audiences with flawless technical virtuosity, irresistible enthusiasm and sensual elegance. Whether playing the great standards of the piano trio repertoire or daring contemporary works, the three young women who make up this celebrated ensemble electrify the concert stage with their passionate performances. The Trio’s self-titled debut CD, which features works by Ravel, Benjamin Godard, a commissioned arrangement of the Gershwin Preludes, and Paul Schoenfield’s Café Music, was awarded NPR Performance Today’s “Debut Recording of the Year” and featured in Time Out New York’s “Top Ten Recordings” of 1997. (press release)

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A first-rate debut album that lightens the mood of chamber music
The wisdom of crowds can do a belly flop sometimes, and it’s happened here with the lead review, which has incited a pile-up of negative votes against the Eroica Trio’s debut album. I hope prospective buyers won’t be misled. This is a beautifully played program caught in perfect sound. The program is winning and at times playful. EMI’s PR approach was aimed at finding a younger audience for chamber music, clearly. With three pretty young graduates of Juilliard to publicize, they struck a blow against the shriveled prune image that emanates fro, say, the Beaux Arts Trio.

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The Eroica Trio doesn’t just look young; they play young. The fluffy arrangement of Gershwin’s Three Preludes actually swings, and throughout there’s an air of energy and exuberance. The group was founded in 1991, six years before their debut album was released, and they had won the prestigious Naumburg Award. Almost everything I’ve heard from them rises to a very high level of musicianship. I especially admire the pianist, Eriak Nickrenz. the best piano trios are led by a pianist with a strong personality, and she has one, particularly in their excellent CD of the first two Brahms piano trios – I’d rank it among the two or three best I’ve ever heard.

Personal taste can’t be argued against, but the two-star review’s complaints are pure fantasy. The ERoica play slow music as well as they play fast music. The main item here, the Ravel Trio, is flawless. The Jazzy Cafe Music by Paul Schoenfield, an expert at tongue-in-cheek, brings a smile. If anything on this album is less than first-rate, I can’t hear it. (by Huntley Dent)

In other words: An awesome trio:

Recorded at the St. Stephen’s Church, Tiburon, California, July 4 – 8, 1997

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Personnel:
Sara Sant’Ambrogio (cello)
Erika Nickrenz (piano)
Adela Peña (violin)

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Tracklist:

George Gershwin: Three Preludes
01. Prelude I 4.38
02. Prelude II 7.50
03. Prelude III 1.57

Maurice Ravel: Piano Trio
04. Modéré 10.17
05. Pantoum 4.14
06. Passacaille: Très Large 9.32
07. Finale: Animé 5.22

Benjamin Godard:
08. Berceuse 5.51

Paul Schoenfiel: Café Music
09. Allegro 5.52
10. Andante Moderato: Rubato 6.10
11. Presto 4.30

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The official website:
Website

Various Artists – The Great Jazz Vocalists Sing The Gershwin Songbook (1992)

FrontCover1What a wonderful complication:

George Gershwin  born Jacob Gershwine; September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American pianist and composer, whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and An American in Paris (1928), the songs “Swanee” (1919) and “Fascinating Rhythm” (1924), the jazz standards “Embraceable You” (1928) and “I Got Rhythm” (1930), and the opera Porgy and Bess (1935), which included the hit “Summertime”.

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Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark, Henry Cowell, and Joseph Brody. He began his career as a song plugger but soon started composing Broadway theater works with his brother Ira Gershwin and with Buddy DeSylva. He moved to Paris, intending to study with Nadia Boulanger, but she refused him, afraid that rigorous classical study would ruin his jazz-influenced style; Maurice Ravel voiced similar objections when Gershwin inquired on studying with him. He subsequently composed An American in Paris, returned to New York City and wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and DuBose Heyward. Initially a commercial failure, it came to be considered one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century and an American cultural classic.

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Gershwin moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores. He died in 1937 of a brain tumor. His compositions have been adapted for use in film and television, with many becoming jazz standards.

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Ira Gershwin (born Israel Gershovitz; December 6, 1896 – August 17, 1983) was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs in the English language of the 20th century. With George, he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as “I Got Rhythm”, “Embraceable You”, “The Man I Love” and “Someone to Watch Over Me”. He was also responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George’s opera Porgy and Bess.

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The success the Gershwin brothers had with their collaborative works has often overshadowed the creative role that Ira played. His mastery of songwriting continued after George’s early death in 1937. Ira wrote additional hit songs with composers Jerome Kern, Kurt Weill, Harry Warren and Harold Arlen. His critically acclaimed 1959 book Lyrics on Several Occasions, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song. (wikipedia)

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And here´s this wonderful compilation:

In the pantheon of jazz singers, the great tunes of George and Ira Gershwin have always been favorites. Special vocalists can make these compositions their own, elevating each number by the way they phrase, emote, or interpret without reinterpreting. That innate ability to take a well-worn standard and invigorate it is well documented within these 16 tracks.

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Easily among the highlights are Nat King Cole’s “Embraceable You,” Carmen McRae’s “The Man I Love,” Dakota Staton’s “A Foggy Day,” Johnny Hartman’s “How Long Has This Been Going On?,” Nina Simone’s forever classic “Summertime,” the lesser-known “Love Walked In” by Abbey Lincoln, and Mel Tormé’s fun and funny “Do Do Do.” You also get two tracks from Sarah Vaughan, who had a singular command of Gershwin like nobody else. This is a solid collection of vocal magic from top to bottom, and can be recommended to all. (by Michael G. Nastos)

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Tracklist:
01. Nat King Cole Trio: Embraceable You 3.53
02. Carmen McRae: The Man I Love 4.16
03. Chet Baker: But Not for Me 3.04
04. Sarah Vaughan: I Got Rhythm 1.54
05. Annie Ross: I Was Doing All Right 2.37
06. Nancy Wilson: Someone to Watch Over Me 2.33
07. Sarah Vaughan: Blah, Blah, Blah 2.41
08. June Christy: They Can’t Take That Away from Me 2.42
09. Beverly Kenney: It Ain’t Necessarily So 1.35
10. David Allyn: They All Laughed 2.22
11. Mel Tormé: Do Do Do 2.29
12. Peggy Lee: Aren’t You Kind of Glad We Did? 3.00
13. Dakota Staton: A Foggy Day 2.19
14. Johnny Hartman: How Long Has This Been Going On? 2.45
15. Abbey Lincoln: Love Walked In 2.33
16. Nina Simone: Summertime 5.40

All songs written by George Gershwin (muic) & Ira Gershwin (lyrics)
excep 15, wirtten by George Gershwin , Ira Gershwin & DuBose Heyward

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More from George & Ira Gershwin:
More

The official website:
Website

Ella Fitzgerald (with Nelson Riddle) – Sings The George And Ira Gershwin Song Book (Vol. 1) (1959)

FrontCover1.JPGElla Fitzgerald Sings the George and Ira Gershwin Song Book is a box set by American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald that contains songs by George and Ira Gershwin with arrangements by Nelson Riddle. Fifty-nine songs were recorded in the span of eight months in 1959.

Fitzgerald’s recording of “But Not for Me” won the 1960 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Female.

Ira Gershwin said, “I never knew how good our songs were until I heard Ella Fitzgerald sing them”.

This collection is one of the eight comprising what is possibly Ella Fitzgerald’s greatest musical legacy: Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Complete American Songbook  in which she recorded with top arrangers and musicians well-known and obscure tracks by Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, George and Ira Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Jerome Kern and Johnny Mercer. (by wikipedia)

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By far the best of any of the songbooks Ella Fitzgerald made “The George and Ira Gershwin” songbook is a tour de force of pure genius from Ella and legendary arranger Nelson Riddle.

In January 1959 Ella and Riddle embarked on an ambitious project to record all of George and Ira Gershwin’s music, some of which had not even been recorded at the time! Riddle was coming off some of his best work with Sinatra and Ella was vocally in her prime at this point in her career. The recording was done over a few sessions ending in Aug/Sep of 1959, by the end of recording 53 songs plus several instrumental cuts, both must have been exhausted!

Ira Gershwin ( who was still alive at the time) commented after the record was released that he never knew he and his brothers songs could sound so good! Also legendary musician Andre Previn was so impressed with Riddle’s work on the album he recommended him to various people in the business for muscial projects.

I can’t recommend this enough. Regarded as one of the best albums of the 1950’s and rightly so and easily the best of Ella’s songbooks. Ella recorded 2 other songbooks with Riddle for Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern as well as 2 other regular albums (Swing gently and swing brightly) which are also very very good indeed. (by Russell C. Witheyman)

And the great cover art was done by Bernard Buffet ! Bernard Buffet (10 July 1928 – 4 October 1999) was a French painter of Expressionism and a member of the anti-abstract art group L’homme Témoin (the Witness-Man).

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Personnel:
Ella Fitzgerald (vocals)
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Trumpet:
Pete Candoli, Don Fagerquist, Conrad Gozzo, Manny Klein, Cappy Lewis, Vito Mangano, Dale McMickle, Shorty Sherock, Joe Triscari

Trombone:
Milt Bernhart, Richard Noel, Tommy Pederson, James Priddy, Juan Tizol

Bass trombone:
Karl DeKarske, George Roberts

French horn:
James Decker, Vincent DeRosa

Tuba:
Red Callender, Ed Gilbert

Saxophone:
Benny Carter, Ronnie Lang, Ted Nash, Plas Johnson, Chuck Gentry

Woodwinds:
Gene Cipriano, Buddy Collette, Justin Gordon, Jewell Grant, William Green, Jules Jacob, Harry Klee, Joe Koch, Wilbur Schwartz, Buck Skalak, Champ Webb

Piano:
Lou Levy, Paul Smith

Guitar:
Herb Ellis, Barney Kessel

Bass:
Joe Comfort, Ralph Peña

Drums:
Alvin Stoller, Mel Lewis, Bill Richmond

Percussion:
Larry Bunker, Frank Flynn

String section:

Violin:
Israel Baker, Henry Hill, Harold Dicterow, Erno Neufield, Victor Arno, Victor Bay, Alex Beller, Joseph Livoti, Jacques Gasselin, Walter Edelstein, James Getzoff, Eudice Shapiro, Ben Gill, Murrary Kellner, Nat Ross, Felix Slatkin, Marshall Sosson, Misha Russell, Paul Shure, Dan Lube, Gerald Vinci

Viola:
Alvin Dinken, Lou Kievman, David Sterkin, Stanley Harris, Paul Robyn, Barbara Simons
Cello – Elizabeth Greenschpoon, James Arkatov, Armand Kaproff, George Neikrug, Dave Filerman, Kurt Reher

Harp:
Katharine Julyie

Arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle

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Tracklist:
01. Sam And Delilah 3.18
02. But Not For Me 3.34
03. My One And Only 2.38
04. Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off 4.29
05. (I´ve Got) Beginners Luck 3.11
06. Oh, Lady Be Good 4.02
07. Nice Work If You Can Get It 3.35
08. Things Are Looking Up 3.06
09. Just Another Rhumba 5.37
10. How Long Has This Been Going On 3.47

Music: George Gershwin
Lyrics: Ira Gershwin

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Don Ralke & His Orchestra – But You’ve Never Heard Gershwin With Bongos (1960)

FrontCover1.jpgDon Ralke (July 13, 1920 – January 26, 2000) was a prolific music arranger, composer, and producer, working for four decades in the Hollywood studio system in films, television, and pop recordings. He was born on July 13, 1920 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Ralke died on January 26, 2000 in Santa Rosa, California.

Ralke received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from the University of Southern California, graduating with honors. He also studied with famed composer and Hollywood emigre, Arnold Schoenberg.
Career overview

On the bongos Ralke collaborated with versatile flute and reed instrumentalist, Buddy Collette on “Jazz Heat”, “Bongo Beat”. Warner Bros. hired him for “Gershwin with Bongoes” and “The Savage and The Sensuous “, which is widely regarded as one of the best jungle exotica albums of that era. He worked with Warren Barker on the music for 77 Sunset Strip and did the heavy musical lifting when Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, one of the show’s stars, became a teen idol and recorded his one hit, “Kookie, Kookie (Lend Me Your DonRalkeComb)”. Ralke performed similar duties for “Hawaiian Eye” star Connie Stevens when she recorded “Sixteen Reasons”. Other recordings include Jewel Akens’ “The Birds and the Bees”, and five other gold records. His orchestra backed Sam Cooke on several 1959-1960 songs. Ralke also recorded two hits by Ty Wagner: “I’m a No Count” as well as “Slander”. In the late 1960s he created his own record company. He collaborated with sound engineer Brad Miller on the hugely successful strings-with-environmental sounds creation, the Mystic Moods Orchestra.

Working with “Golden Throats talent” became a specialty niche for Ralke. Ralke is credited for convincing non-singers including William Shatner and Lorne Greene to play it safe and stick to narration over a musical background. Ralke also produced Beach Boys dad Murry Wilson’s The Many Moods of Murray Wilson which was not kindly lauded by critics but nonetheless has achieved a place as an important footnote in 1960s music.

In 1972 Ralke produced and orchestrated Bob and Dick Sherman’s Grammy nominated musical film Snoopy, Come Home.

DonRalke2In the 1970s, he returned to television, working for producer Garry Marshall on the series “Happy Days” and its spin-off, “Laverne and Shirley”.

Ralke was once described by Stan Ross, co-founder of Gold Star recording studio, as “the most well-known unknown in the business.” (by wikipedia)

Hollywood arranger Don Ralke didn’t make a lot of records, but thank goodness this one. pair of LPs has been reissued. It´s a lounge album featuring bongos, but they couldn’t be less alike in character. “But You’ve Never Heard Gershwin With Bongos,” resets a dozen Gershwin classics in new and sometimes outrageously over-the-top big band settings – by way of a Los Angeles recording studio, naturally. It’s pure Hollywood balderdash and about as authentic as the red naughahyde on a cocktail lounge banquette. Which is why I love it. (Mark Schildenberg)

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Personnel:
Don Ralke & His Orchestra

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Tracklist:
01. Fascinating Rhythm 2.46
02. How Long Has This Been Going On 2.26
03. Clap Yo Hands 3.00
04. Love Is Here To Stay 3.35
05. Summertime 2.55
06. My One And Only 2.34
07. They All Laughed 2.43
08. Love Walked In 3.14
09. They Can’t Take That Away From Me 2.40
10. Maybe 3.33
11. A Foggy Day 2.59
12. I Got Rhythm 3.00

Music composed by George Gershwin

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Leonard Bernstein – Rhapsody In Blue & An American In Paris (1959)

LPFrontCover1Because George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue is one of the most beloved American masterpieces, most people who have taken an interest in his music have come to know it quite well and have usually adopted a favorite recording already. Thanks to Sony, its Great Performances series now includes a classic that many will remember vividly — due in great part to its iconic cover photograph — and which some will recall fondly as their first introduction to Gershwin’s entertaining work. Among American performers who made a splash playing this piece, Leonard Bernstein may not have given the most fastidious, note-perfect performance, but he made this impressive recording with the Columbia Symphony Orchestra in 1959 a true reflection of his charismatic, flamboyant personality. Paired with his buoyant 1958 performance of An American in Paris with the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein’s rendition of Rhapsody is lively, flashy, bluesy, and intensely romantic in feeling, and these positive characteristics no doubt contributed to keeping this album in print for many years as one of Columbia’s great successes. (by Blair Sanderson)

Leonard Bernstein’s recording is a disc for the ages. It’s American music performed with mid-century flair, a moment never to be recaptured. Bernstein had the feel for Rhapsody In Blue, and he does full justice to the still racy and spontaneous score. His performance of the piano solo has a smoky, sultry jazziness to it, along with a brash exuberance; there is touching tenderness in the lullaby, riveting dynamism in the fast pages. (b analogspark.com)

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Personnel:
Leonard Bernstein (piano)
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The Columbia Symphony Orchestra (on 01.)
New York Philharmonic (on 02,)

conducted by Leonard Bernstein

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Tracklist:
01. A Rhapsody In Blue 16.29
02. An American In Paris 18.27
03. Allegro 12.56
03. Andante con moto 12.44
04. Allegro agitato 6.30

Composed by George Gershwin

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George Gershwin – Rare Recordings 1932 – 1935 (1999)

frontcover1Widely regarded as one of the finest composers of both popular and classical music in the 20th century, George Gershwin wrote for Broadway musicals and the concert hall, creating many American standards in the process.

In a career tragically cut short in mid-stride by a brain tumor, George Gershwin (1898-1937) proved himself to be not only one of the great songwriters of his extremely rich era, but also a gifted “serious” composer who bridged the worlds of classical and popular music. The latter is all the more striking, given that, of his contemporaries, Gershwin was the most influenced by such styles as jazz and blues.

Gershwin’s first major hit, interpolated into the show Sinbad in 1919, was “Swanee,” sung by Al Jolson. Gershwin wrote both complete scores and songs for such variety shoes as George White’s Scandals (whose annual editions thus were able to introduce such songs as “I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise” and “Somebody Loves Me”).

After 1924, Gershwin worked primarily with his brother Ira as his lyricist. The two scored a series of Broadway hits in the ’20s and early ’30s, starting with Lady Be Good (1924), which included the song “Fascinatin’ Rhythm.” 1924 was also the year Gershwin composed his first classical piece, “Rhapsody in Blue,” and he would continue to work in the classical field until his death.

By the ’30s, the Gershwins had turned to political topics and satire in response to the onset of the Depression, and their Of Thee I Sing became the first musical to win a Pulitzer Prize. In the mid ’30s, Gershwin ambitiously worked to meld his show music and classical leanings in the creation of the folk opera Porgy and Bess, with lyrics by Ira and Dubose Heyward. The Gershwins had moved to Hollywood and were engaged in several movie projects at the time of George Gershwin’s death. (by William Ruhlmann)

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And this is a double CD album (taken from an eight CD Box) with rare recordings, radio broadcasts, interviews and commerials from the 30´s …

Enjoy this nostalgic trip in the 20´s and 3´0´s of the last century ! And don´t forget: George Gershwin was one of the most important composers of this decades. So, this is another sentimental journey in this blog.

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Personnel:
George Gershwin (piano)
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Ann Brown (vocals on CD 1/21.)
Todd Duncan (vocals on CD 1/21.)
Ruby Elzy (vocals on CD 1/20.)
Edward Matthews (vocals on CD 1/18.)
Abbie Mitchell (vocals on CD 1/17.)
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George Gershwin Orchestra (on CD 2/07.)
Paul Whiteman & His Concert Orchestra (on CD 2/01.)
Victor Symphony Orchestra (on CD 2/06.)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Variations on Fascinating Rhythm/Variations on Liza 2.28
02. Second Prelude 2.33
03. Interview 1.30
04. I Got Rhythm 1.11
05. Signature 1.33
06. Of Thee I Sing (Overture) 3.33
07. The Man I Love 4.44
08. I Got Rhythm 2.47
09. Commmercial 0.59
10. Swanee/Sign Off 1.16
11. Signature 1.28
12. Mine 1.06
13. Variations on “I Got Rhythm” 8.34
14. Love Is Sweeping The Country 1.01
15. Commercial 1.28
16. Wintergreen For President/Sign Off 1.15
17. Introduction/Summertime 4.09
18. A Woman Is A Sometime Thing 2.32
19. Act I, Scene 1: Finale 1.42
20. My Man’s Gone Now 4.16
21. Bess, You Is My Woman Now 5.34

CD 2:
01. Rhapsody In Blue 9.09
02. Prelude, No. 1 1.20
03. Prelude, No. 2 2.37
04. Prelude, No. 3 1.06
05. Andante from Rhapsody in Blue 2.35
06. An American In Paris 15.54
07. Second Rhapsody (Rehearsal Performance) 14.24

Music by George Gershwin:
Lyrics by Ira Gershwin

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Hamburg Pro Musica Orchestra + London Philharmonic Orchestra – Rhapsody in Blue – Piano Concerto In F (Gershwin) (1967)

FrontCover1Two compositions by George Gershwin:

Rhapsody in Blue is a 1924 musical composition by American composer George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects.

Commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman, the composition was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé several times, including the original 1924 scoring, “theater orchestra” setting published in 1926, and the symphony orchestra scoring published in 1942, though completed earlier. The piece received its premiere in the concert, An Experiment in Modern Music, which was held on February 12, 1924, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Whiteman and his band with Gershwin playing the piano.

The editors of the Cambridge Music Handbooks opined that “The Rhapsody in Blue (1924) established Gershwin’s reputation as a serious composer and has since become one of the most popular of all American concert works.”

SheetMusicAfter the success of an experimental classical-jazz concert held with French-Canadian singer Eva Gauthier at Aeolian Hall (New York) on 1 November 1923, band leader Paul Whiteman decided to attempt something more ambitious. He asked Gershwin to contribute a concerto-like piece for an all-jazz concert he would give in Aeolian Hall in February 1924. Whiteman became interested in featuring such an extended composition by Gershwin in the concert after he had collaborated with Gershwin in the Scandals of 1922, impressed by the original performance of the one-act opera Blue Monday, which was nevertheless a commercial failure. Gershwin declined on the grounds that, as there would certainly be need for revisions to the score, he would not have enough time to compose the new piece.

Late on the evening of January 3, at the Ambassador Billiard Parlor at Broadway and 52nd Street in Manhattan, while George Gershwin and Buddy De Sylva were playing billiards, his brother Ira Gershwin was reading the January 4 edition of the New York Tribune. An article entitled “What Is American Music?” about the Whiteman concert caught his attention, in which the final paragraph claimed that “George Gershwin is at work on a jazz concerto, Irving Berlin is writing a syncopated tone poem, and Victor Herbert is working on an American suite.”

In a phone call to Whiteman next morning, Gershwin was told that Whiteman’s rival Vincent Lopez was planning to steal the idea of his experimental concert and there was no time to lose. Gershwin was finally persuaded to compose the piece.

ClarinetOpeningThe famous clarinet opening of Rhapsody in Blue.

Since there were only five weeks left, Gershwin hastily set about composing a piece, and on the train journey to Boston, the ideas of Rhapsody in Blue came to his mind. He told his first biographer Isaac Goldberg in 1931:

It was on the train, with its steely rhythms, its rattle-ty bang, that is so often so stimulating to a composer – I frequently hear music in the very heart of the noise…. And there I suddenly heard, and even saw on paper – the complete construction of the Rhapsody, from beginning to end. No new themes came to me, but I worked on the thematic material already in my mind and tried to conceive the composition as a whole. I heard it as a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness. By the time I reached Boston I had a definite plot of the piece, as distinguished from its actual substance.

Gershwin began his work on January 7 as dated on the original manuscript for two pianos. The piece was titled “American Rhapsody” during composition. The title Rhapsody in Blue was suggested by Ira Gershwin after his visit to a gallery exhibition of James McNeill Whistler paintings, which bear titles such as Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket and Arrangement in Grey and Black (better known as Whistler’s Mother). After a few weeks, Gershwin finished his composition and passed the score to Whiteman’s arranger Ferde Grofé, who orchestrated the piece, finishing it on February 4, only eight days before the premiere

GeorgeGershwinConcerto in F is a composition by George Gershwin for solo piano and orchestra which is closer in form to a traditional concerto than the earlier jazz-influenced Rhapsody in Blue. It was written in 1925 on a commission from the conductor and director Walter Damrosch.

Damrosch had been present at the February 12, 1924 concert arranged and conducted by Paul Whiteman at Aeolian Hall in New York City titled An Experiment in Modern Music which became famous for the premiere of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, in which the composer performed the piano solo. The day after the concert, Damrosch contacted Gershwin to commission from him a full-scale piano concerto for the New York Symphony Orchestra, closer in form to a classical concerto and orchestrated by the composer.

ConcertPosterGershwin would later receive formal training and lessons from influential figures like Henry Cowell, Wallingford Riegger and Arnold Schoenberg in advanced composition, harmony and orchestration; however, in 1924 he had had no such training. Under the pressure of a deadline to complete the work in 1925, Gershwin bought books on theory, concerto form and orchestration and taught himself the skills needed. Because of contractual obligations for three different Broadway musicals, he was not able to begin sketching ideas until May 1925. He began the two-piano score on July 22 after returning from a trip to London, and the original drafts were entitled “New York Concerto”. The first movement was written in July, the second in August, and the third in September, much of the work being done in a practice shack at the Chautauqua Institution. This had been arranged through the Australian composer and teacher Ernest Hutcheson, who offered seclusion for Gershwin at Chautauqua, where his quarters were declared off limits to everyone until 4 p.m. daily. Thanks to this, Gershwin was able to complete the full orchestration of the concerto on November 10, 1925. Later that month, Gershwin hired a 55-piece orchestra, at his own expense, to run through his first draft at the Globe Theatre. Damrosch attended and gave advice to Gershwin, who made a few cuts and revisions.

NotesThe Concerto in F shows considerable development in Gershwin’s compositional technique, particularly because he orchestrated the entire work himself, unlike the Rhapsody in Blue which was scored by Ferde Grofé, Paul Whiteman’s section pianist and principal orchestrator. The English composer and orchestrator William Walton commented that he adored Gershwin’s orchestration of the concerto. The work calls for 2 flutes plus piccolo, 2 oboes and English horn, 2 B flat clarinets plus B flat bass clarinet (this trio being featured as the backing to the solo trumpet in the middle movement), 2 bassoons, 4 Horns in F, 3 B-flat trumpets, 3 trombones and a tuba, 3 timpani – 32″, 29″ and 26″ (one player), 3 percussionists (first player: bass drum, bells, xylophone; second player: snare drum periodically muffled and with regular and brush sticks, wood block, whip; third player: crash cymbals, suspended cymbal with sticks, triangle and gong), solo piano and strings.

GeorgeGershwin2This is very a rare album by The Hamburg Pro Musica Orchestra (from Germany) and The London Philharmonic Orchestra and I guess it was recorded during the 50´s and this is a re-release from 1967.

This is another vinyl-rip from my record collection …

AlternateFrontCoverOriginal frontcover from the 50´s (b/w “An American In Paris”)

Personnel:

Piano Concerto In F:
The London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Hugo Rignold
Sergio Fiorentino (piano(

Rhapsody In Blue:
The Hamburg Pro Musica Orchestra conducted by George Byrd
Joyce Hatto (piano)

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Tracklist:

Piano Concert On F:
01. 1st Movement: Allegro
02. 2nd Movement: Andante Con Moto
03. 3rd Movement: Allegro Agitato (Finale)

Rhapsody In Blue:
04. Rhapsody In Blue:

Music composed by George Gershwin

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