One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS

Simon Rattle: Americana

Wonderful Town - Overture


Rhapsody in Blue




Makin’ Whoopee!

Lindsay McPHAIL



Prelude, Fugue and Riffs


Ebony Concerto

Bill STRAYHORN, arr. and orch. Luther HENDERSON
Take the ‘A’ Train


Sophisticated Lady
That Doo-wah Thing




Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, London Sinfonietta, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The Glyndebourne Chorus, The London Philharmonic, Harvey and the Wallbangers, Michael Collins, clarinet, Clark Terry, trumpet, Bobby Watson, alto saxophone, Joe Lovano, tenor saxophone, Regina Carter, violin, Geri Allen, piano, Lewis Nash, drums, Peter Washington, bass, Hardyn Blackwell, soprano, Damon Evans, tenor/Sir Simon Rattle
Recorded at various venues between 1987 and 1999
EMI CLASSICS 7243 5 57691 [77:31]


A highly varied and entertaining compilation, this, of Rattle recordings from over the past seventeen years or so. They reflect his love of the various facets of American music. There are three classics of ‘symphonic jazz’ here: the celebrated Rhapsody in Blue, Bernstein’s early Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, and part of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto, included quite legitimately as it was composed for the great jazz clarinettist Woody Herman. The disc concludes with John Adams’ ill-fated (in the UK at any rate) Short Ride in a Fast Machine.

Rattle has always had a great empathy for jazz and show music, as evidenced by Summertime, Makin’ Whoopee and several others interspersed amongst the more substantial pieces. There is a particularly good version of Take the ‘A’ Train, with the CBSO fronted by some fine jazz soloists, to give it a taste of authenticity. I very much enjoyed Regina Carter’s feisty violin, with cheeky hints of English Country Garden sneaked in.

I’m not so totally convinced by this version of Rhapsody in Blue, which first appeared in an issue called The Jazz Album. It uses the Grofé orchestration, which is much less sumptuous than the versions commonly heard today, and the dry studio acoustic emphasises the more athletic qualities of the music. Donohoe plays up to this too, and it all makes a very interesting ‘alternative’ reading, if you like. Not sure it comes off, though; there’s a lack of affection in the way the performers approach the piece.

On the other hand, Prelude, Fugue and Riffs, which is a more cerebral work altogether, receives a tremendous work-out, with Michael Collins revelling in the technical demands of the clarinet part. I’m always pleased with the staccato chord for sax quartet at 2:21, which is so very much not together! How easy it would have been to drop an immaculate chord in when editing this, and I’m so glad they resisted the temptation.

The standard of the performers, as you’d expect from a Rattle issue, is consistently high, though some may find Harvey and the Wallbangers a bit camp! Perhaps a CD not to listen to too closely, but certainly highly entertaining.

Gwyn Parry-Jones


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.