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George GERSHWIN (1898-1937) Gershwin And Me
Rialto Ripples (with Will Donaldson) [2:29]
Someone to Watch Over Me (arr. Keith Jarrett) [6:26]
Love Walked In, (arr. Percy Grainger) [4:47]
The Man I Love,(arr. Grainger) [4:13]
’S Wonderful, (arr. Gershwin) [1:06]
Oh, Lady Be Good! (arr. Gershwin) [1:16]
Strike Up the Band, (arr. Gershwin) [0:59]
Nice Work If You Can Get It, (arr. Dave Grusin) [4:16]
Summertime, (arr. Tedeschi) [5:47]
I Loves You Porgy (arr. Tedeschi) [3:15]
Rhapsody In Blue (arr. Ferde Grofé) [18:47]
Simon Tedeschi (piano)
Queensland Symphony Orchestra/Benjamin Northey
rec. September 2012, Eugene Goossens Hall of ABC’s Ultimo Centre Sydney and, September 2007, live in the Concert Hall of the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (Rhapsody in Blue) ABC CLASSICS 481 0032 [62:09]
Simon Tedeschi has a strong connection to Gershwin. As a boy of 12 he performed Rhapsody in Blue, and later played alongside Larry Adler who admired him greatly. If you’re wondering who ‘played’ the hands of David Helfgott in the film Shine, it was Tedeschi. He’s thrown wide the Gershwin Gates in this programme, admitting a pluralist crew of jazzers, and Grainger, in a net-spreading operation that adds a degree of personalisation to his choice of material.
Let’s start with the earliest performance - that of Rhapsody in Blue, given live back in 2007. This is a generally assured reading and I didn’t feel it ponderous or sentimentality but it is strangely metrical and lacking in fizz at too many points. Taking the introspective lyric view is perfectly acceptable but surely not at the expense of zip, though the audience did not agree, or heard things differently, and rewarded the players, Tedeschi, and Benjamin Northey conducting the Queensland Symphony, with many a whoop.
The rest of the recital is quixotic. It opens with the Gershwin-Will Donaldson rag, Rialto Ripples, played with mucho gusto. The Preludes are here, as they surely must be, making a strong contrast with the more kinetic Jack Gibbons performances in his complete works edition (CDRSB401), though as readers may well know Gibbons divides opinion because of his speeds. Tedeschi plays Keith Jarrett’s arrangement of Someone to Watch Over Me in which Jarrett is in a slowly unfurling romantic reverie. The two Grainger arrangements are lucidly performed and the stripped-back versions of ’S Wonderful, Oh, Lady Be Good! and Strike Up the Band make their mark, albeit concisely. Dave Grusin’s version of Nice Work If You Can Get It has a lazy, insidious charm about it, and the brace of Tedeschi arrangements - Summertime and I Loves You, Porgy – are both relaxed and reflective affairs, the latter sporting some piquant harmonies.
Recommendation is difficult. The solo items are heard largely in unexpected arrangements and then there’s the Rhapsody to complicate things. There’s no doubting Tedeschi’s love for Gershwin’s music, but given his interest in Jazz and Jazz pianists, it makes things difficult. Better to take the album at face value and see it as Tedeschi’s Gershwin – go for the interpreter and the interpreter’s conception, or stick with more obvious alternatives.