Bernstein – Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue – An American In Paris – Grofe: Grand Canyon Suite

Covers + lossless, Not my Rip


These are performances of proven pedigree, the only reservations being Bernstein’s heavily cut and somewhat ponderous (at least in the closing pages) version of Rhapsody in Blue. Like almost everything Bernstein did, it’s full of character, but whether or not this means character of the right sort will be very much a matter of individual taste. No such reservations accompany the performance of An American in Paris, which has all of the requisite panache and not a shred of vulgarity or cheapness. It’s a loving, vital, even moving performance as memorable for the nostalgic (but not too schmaltzy) central interlude as for its brasher episodes. It is, in fact, a touch reserved in such places as the big jazz tune on trumpet that precedes the return to the opening, and serves as proof positive that Bernstein’s head was as much a factor in his performances as was his heart.

The Grofé receives a smashing performance, highly colored in the closing “Cloudburst” and deliciously sly in “On the Trail”, but again never maudlin or trashy. It goes without saying that Benny Goodman and the Columbia Jazz Combo turn in as distinguished an account of Prelude, Fugue and Riffs as any. The remastered sound doesn’t improve hugely on previous issues, but then it didn’t really have to. This is good late-’50s/early-’60s stereo that won’t win any audiophile awards but nevertheless suits the performances and never comes between the music and the listener. Very good then, if you can live with Bernstein’s (as opposed to Gershwin’s) Rhapsody–and who wouldn’t want to do that?
–David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com

1. Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin
Performer: Leonard Bernstein (Piano)
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: Columbia Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1924; USA
Date of Recording: 06/23/1959
Venue: Hotel St. George, Brooklyn, New York
Length: 16 Minutes 24 Secs.
Notes: Orchestrated: Ferde Grofé

2. An American in Paris by George Gershwin
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1928; USA
Date of Recording: 12/21/1958
Venue: Hotel St. George, Brooklyn, New York
Length: 18 Minutes 22 Secs.

3. Grand Canyon Suite by Ferde Grofé
Performer: John Corigliano Sr. (Violin)
Conductor: Leonard Bernstein
Orchestra/Ensemble: New York Philharmonic
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1931; USA
Date of Recording: 05/20/1963
Venue: Philharmonic Hall, Lincoln Center, NYC
Length: 33 Minutes 5 Secs.

Links: