- Variations on "I Got Rhythm," for piano & orchestra (or 2 Pianos)
- Second Rhapsody, for piano & orchestra ("Rhapsody in Rivets")
- Concerto in F, for piano & orchestra
Gershwin: Concerto in F; Rhapsody No. 2; I Got Rhythm Variationsby Orion Weiss
Even without the "Rhapsody in Blue," and even with the comparatively rarely heard "Rhapsody No. 2 for piano and orchestra," there is absolutely no shortage of recordings of the music on this Naxos release. But it merits strong consideration from Gershwin fans, and not only for its budget price. The chief attraction is the "Concerto in F," which pianist Orion Weiss and conductor JoAnn Falletta approach less as a cousin to the "Rhapsody in Blue" than as the most elaborate development of Gershwin's purely classical side. He set out to write a work in classical three-movement concerto form but actually achieved something slightly different: a group of unique ways of developing jazz- and blues-flavored material. The restrained, almost deliberate approach offered by Weiss and Falletta runs counter to type for Gershwin but brings out many small details in the concerto. It works a bit less well in the brash, cinematic "Rhapsody No. 2" (the work, originally entitled "Rhapsody in Rivets," was written for a film soundtrack), but in the final "I Got Rhythm Variations" all the forces loosen up a bit, in keeping with the quasi-improvisatory nature of the work, and the variations make a satisfying finale. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra is sharp throughout, with a brass section that responds well to the rhythmic qualities of Gershwin's scores, and the bright, spacious sound environment of the orchestra's Kleinhans Concert Hall home base is another plus. You can never have too many fresh, accurately executed Gershwin recordings.
- Release Date:
- Naxos American
Performance CreditsOrion Weiss Primary Artist
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The vitality and energy of George Gershwin spring to life in the Gershwin Concerto in F, Second Rhapsody, and “Rhythm” Variations as if set in a New York night club of a half-century ago. The energy of the city and emerging country are as lithe and sprightly as ever, before wars, bombings, depressions, and corruption left their stains behind. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of JoAnn Falletta produces a smooth, New-York-almost-Midwest vibrant sound to take the audience on a Gershwin joy-ride. Pianist Orion Weiss measures up to the pedigree of his training, exuding a jubilant, oh-yeah energy with fine tuning. Maestra Falletta has generated an impressive biography of her own as she has revitalized the Buffalo Philharmonic into wider recognition and appreciation. The description of her accomplishments leaves the reader breathless. As the conductor, she shines the spotlight on talented Orion Weiss, but swings it over to the orchestra’s luscious brass and velvety winds when the music slides them into prominence. The informative booklet describes the compositions in detail, and reviews the composer’s biography and contributions. Online comments as to the theory and construction of the Concerto are impressive, and easily accessible to the serious student. These works are perhaps the lesser-known of Gershwin’s compositions, now overdue to move to the forefront of American concert programs. Appreciation for this artist and the Buffalo Phil is ready for expansion. Congratulations to Falletta for the development she is bringing to the organization through the finest of American music. It is time to branch out and examine what this country has produced in the musical arena. Such talent and performance lead us to enjoy the genius of Gershwin for his joy and exuberance which have so exquisitely portrayed the energy and complexity of this country. This American Classics Gershwin CD shares the talents of one of America’s “greats” in a gutsy, joyous performance by one of America’s fine orchestras.