One of the most grown-up review sites around


Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


Nothing but Praise


BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set


Telemann continues to amaze


A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition


Another Bacewicz winner


match any I’ve heard


An outstanding centenary collection


personable, tuneful, approachable


a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.


music that will be new to most people


telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded


hitherto unrecorded Latvian music

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount


Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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

Sample: See what you will get

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

Support us financially by purchasing this from
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Porgy and Bess Selections for Clarinet and Strings, arr. Carl Davis
Summertime [3:14]
A Woman is a Sometime Thing [2:36]
Bess, You is My Woman Now [5:35]
It Ain’t Necessarily So [2:38]
Lullaby for String Quartet [7:11]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)
Selected Songs (arr. Kern/Charles Miller)
All the Things You Are [4:39]
The Way You Look Tonight [4:46]
Bill [4:05]
The Song is You [5:01]
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes [4:30]
Once in a Blue Moon [4:03]
Joan Enric Lluna (clarinet); Alexander String Quartet
rec. 24-26 May and 15 July, 2011, St Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA, USA
FOGHORN CLASSICS CD2008 [48:15]

This is 48 minutes of chamber-jazz crossover arrangements. There are four Gershwin songs and six by Kern, the Gershwin a suite with a starring role for clarinet. The Kern songs were “arranged by the composer and scored for string quartet by Charles Miller”, a somewhat nebulous statement from the published edition. This really leaves a lot of questions about just how much Kern was involved. Miller was Kern’s assistant, so the author likely at least approved the transcriptions.
 
My colleague Dan Morgan reviewed this CD in 2012 and called it “depressing”. He does have a certain point about the Kern/Miller arrangements: they are so reverential, so precious, that the jazz and spontaneity take a back seat. I don’t want to say “easy-listening”, because in my vocabulary that’s a swear word, but the collection mostly comprises slow love-songs arranged for maximum old-Hollywood glamour.
 
That said, I didn’t dislike them. Sometimes you need a little indulgence. Do as I did and pair it with French chocolate. Or you could be more ambitious and put it on in the background at your next soirée, along with some candles, merlot and prosciutto-wrapped figs.
 
The Porgy and Bess arrangements are significantly more lively, and indeed I was surprised by how much I enjoyed them. Carl Davis is a composer I’m generally allergic to; I’ve been known to mute a Buster Keaton film because of an irritating Davis score. In this case, his contributions are witty off-the-wall intros and outros to well-arranged Gershwin tunes. Joan Eric Lluna’s clarinet dances nimbly around the Alexander String Quartet, even brashly. It’s scored like a mini-clarinet concerto.
 
Best is saved for last: Gershwin’s Lullaby, an authentic string quartet original that really sounds like it. Is he quoting his own Novelette in Fourths halfway through? This leaves us with a half-hour of empty space at the end of the disc, because the repertoire of jazz-classical crossover music for string quartet is not very big. There is one masterpiece in the medium, though. Nikolai Kapustin’s string quartet is a firecracker, with a crazy-brilliant fugue finale. Apparently there is also a String Quartet No. 2, unrecorded. If any enterprising, jazz-loving quartet players are reading this, Presto Classical is selling a full set of parts for the Kapustin. You can listen to it on YouTube. Just a suggestion.
 
Brian Reinhart

Previous review: Dan Morgan