With this recording of the Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F, Riccardo Chailly blends the classical elegance and sophistication of the Gewandhaus Orchestra with the jazz/blues sensibility of the mercurial Milan-born jazz legend Stefano Bollani.
The Rhapsody was performed in the jazz-band version (orchestrated by Paul Whiteman), while the Concerto was in Gershwin’s original symphonic orchestration.
Completing the well-filled album (over 73 minutes) are the symphonic suite Catfish Row – derived from Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess – and Gershwin’s earliest significant work, the Broadway-inspired rag Rialto Ripples.
Rhapsody In Blue
Good Morning, Brother (Sistuh)
3. Allegro agitato
Rialto Ripples (Rag)
“[Bollani] treats most of the solo part with unexpected respect, and even un-swung rhythms. But he occasionally loosens up the text with exaggerated rubato and octave shifts...[His] clear, crisp pianism is heard to more convincing effect...in a fine, absolutely straight account of the Concerto in F. And Riccardo Chailly brings off an assured and lively performance of Gershwin's own, little-heard suite from Porgy and Bess, Catfish Row.”
“[Bollani] decorates Gershwin's lines with inner voices and liberally applied re-harmonisations, playing with a jazzman's rhythmic push-pull. His Concerto in F is more literal to Gershwin's text; Chailly paints broad, meticulous brushstrokes...[The Concerto] is as fine as any in the catalogue.”
“The performance of the Concerto is the finest I have ever heard...while all parties are alive to the smallest detail, there is an irreverance and spontaneity which capture the spirit of the work like no other...Rhapsody in Blue opens the disc. It's a cracking account that inhabits the same world as the Concerto...Here again, Bollani's exuberance and panache are infectious.”
“This is one of the best versions [of the Concerto] I know...Bollani and Chailly reject any suggestion of heavy-breathing sentimentality in the second movement's climax and yet the music is no less effective...Chailly is sensitive and even affectionate: it is fun to hear the musicians of the Gewandhausorchester...so obviously enjoying themselves. What would Furtwängler have thought?”
27th February 2011
“[Bollani's] rapport with his compatriot Riccardo Chailly seems complete in...Rhapsody in Blue and the Concerto in F, which Bollani and Chailly claim to play as written, without pulling about the melodic lines...This very “classical” account is the surprise of the disc, but there is plenty of jazzing in the Rhapsody and zing in the Catfish Row suite”
11th February 2011
“this intriguing pairing [of Chailly and Bollani]...points up the intrinsic balance between the formal and the demotic that drives "Rhapsody in Blue", and works well, save for some rather over-aggressive percussive flourishes around the 12-minute mark. "Catfish Row", an abbreviated suite culled from Porgy and Bess, is exuberant and involving.”
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