Music: Rhapsody in New

Visiting Toronto on Monday, I went to the Yorkville record shop where I usually leave some of my money and bought the CD you see above. Details here. I haven’t been much of a fan of symphonic Gershwin. Orchestras sometimes seem to view his music as a chance to take a vacation from serious work. But my antipathy began to wear down when I heard Marc-André Hamelin play the Concerto in F with the NAC Orchestra in 2008. It’s pure Gershwin, but it’s also worthy of a fine orchestra and a great soloist.

Anyway this new thing is the best damned recording of symphonic Gerswhin I’ve heard. The soloist, Stefano Bollani, is a jazz pianist I haven’t investigated in detail, but he plays the Concerto and the Rhapsody in Blue by the book, without improvised additions. The real star here is conductor Riccardo Chailly’s Leipzig orchestra, razor-sharp, attentive to every detail, sweetly romantic in ballad passages, often ferocious elsewhere. Chailly takes a lot of the tempos faster than I’m used to hearing them. His band roars through it all. I’m having a blast listening to this performance.

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