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aBritish Symphonies
4CDs £16 post-free

 

W.S. Bennett, Rootham, Moeran,
Bax, Rubbra, Rawsthorne, Berkeley
Alwyn, Grace Williams, Arnold, Wordsworth. Searle, Joubert


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Van Dieren Chinese Symphony
Searle Symphonies 3, 5
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Book + 4CDs £33

 

 

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Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Song Book (see end of review) [22:52]
Three Preludes [5:45]
An American in Paris in Miniature - paraphrased by Maurice Whitney [5:51]
Novelette in Fourths [2:37]
Merry Andrew [1:20]
Impromptu in Two Keys [1:08]
Three-Quarter Blues [0:57]
Promenade [2:58]
Rhapsody in Blue [15:32]
Corinna Simon (piano)
rec. 10-12 September, 2012, Konzerthaus der Abtei Marienmünster
MUSIKPRODUKTION DABRINGHAUS UND GRIMM MDG 604 1795-2 [59:00]


 
This is a terrific CD. Corinna Simon, one of Germany’s leading piano teachers and a longtime Gershwin lover, really gets into the composer’s spirit. Resisting the temptation to speed or get excessively flashy, she revels in the rhythms, buoyant tunes, and echoes of ragtime. She handles the solo-piano version of Rhapsody in Blue with elegance and great charm; if I remember right, Gershwin himself cheated in this piece by overlaying two performances on the piano roll.
 
The stars are the song-book tunes, like “Strike up the Band,” “Fascinating Rhythm,” and “That Certain Feeling,” where Simon’s touch is almost faultless as she strikes the right balance between nonchalance, exuberance, wit, and restraint. Restraint is important. Many classical pianists believe that playing Gershwin is their opportunity to be wild, but 1920s jazz had a language to which its performers must be true; going wild simply for the sake of having fun is often more about the pianist’s sense of self. The wonderful three preludes are simply handled, but the two fast movements are ever-so punchy.
 
There are even a few miniature works I had never heard before! Merry Andrew, an Impromptu in Two Keys, and the Three-Quarter Blues are only a minute long each, but any time there’s Gershwin new to my ears, that’s more than welcome. Throw in MDG’s high sonic standards and you have yourself a real winner of a disc.
 
Brian Reinhart
 

Song Book
The Man I Love, Swanee, Nobody but You, I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise, Do it Again, Fascinating Rhythm, Lady Be Good, Somebody Loves Me, Sweet and Low Down, Clap Yo’ Hands, Do Do Do, My One and Only, ‘S Wonderful, Strike up the Band, That Certain Feeling, I Got Rhythm, Who Cares?, Liza