Gershwin: Piano Concerto in F; Rhapsody in Blue; Cuban Overtureby Jon Nakamatsu
This is an expertly played, beautifully recorded take on Gershwin standards. One way to look at the panoply of recordings of the "Piano Concerto in F" and "Rhapsody in Blue" is to consider the respective weight of the classical and jazz/pop aspects of Gershwin's language in each one. This disc, perhaps surprisingly in view of the jazz background of Rochester Philharmonic conductor Jeff Tyzik, doesn't play up the jazziness of Gershwin. Listen to the finale of the piano concerto: it is brisk and sharp but not brassy. California pianist Jon Nakamatsu elaborates the work in ways related to Romantic pianism rather than to jazz, most noticeably with a good deal of tempo rubato. Given that these performances stress Gershwin's symphonic aspect (which was how 1920s audiences encountered these pieces, the rediscovery of the small-orchestra versions of the "Rhapsody in Blue" coming only much later), the listener will find them among the very best available in that style. These readings are detailed and subtle -- not words always used in connection with Gershwin, but this recording finds those qualities in his music. Nakamatsu catches the role of blue notes in Gershwin's language: they are there not just to give the music an American flavor but are often used as pivot points that reconcile the jazz and classical aspects of the composer's harmony. The seemingly jazzier "Rhapsody in Blue" perhaps works the best of the three pieces on the disc, for Nakamatsu's solo piano passages are particularly arresting. The blues tunes that make up the work's long transitional passages are very gracefully done, and the famous lyrical second theme, toward the end of the work, is taken slowly, with a lovely warmth. The "Cuban Overture" and all the other music on the disc is cleanly played by the Rochester Philharmonic, but it is Nakamatsu's contribution that stands out from the crowd. Harmonia Mundi's impressively transparent recording suits the detail-oriented Gershwin on this disc very well, and the cover photo of the Empire State Building at twilight is a nice bonus.
- Release Date:
- Harmonia Mundi Fr.
- Concerto in F, for piano & orchestra
- Rhapsody in Blue, for piano & orchestra (orchestrated by F. Grofé)
- Cuban Overture
Performance CreditsJon Nakamatsu Primary Artist
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