Originally published on July 21
This very welcome second release completes Leonard Slatkin & St Louis Symphony’s mid-1970s’ survey of George Gershwin’s orchestral music for Vox, this time with solo piano and Jeffrey Siegel. A1 performances in excellent sound, the Concerto in F is relished for its jazz, syncopation, melodic generosity and atmosphere (Susan Slaughter outstanding in the bluesy-expressive trumpet solos in the second movement), the musicians’ teamwork palpable throughout as they give time to the music to fully be itself with twinkle-in-the-eye affection, which holds good for all the accounts here, whether Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’, compact in length if bubbling over with engaging wide-ranging invention that leaves its mark on the memory, as does Second Rhapsody with its stalking rhythms, colourful orchestration and ‘advanced’ manner (not dissimilar in stylistic change to Rachmaninov’s Fourth Piano Concerto in relation to the first three), with no lack of fascination at every turn including a sensuous melody. Of course, the first Rhapsody – the one in Blue – is here, using Ferde Grofé’s symphony scoring (he also did the Paul Whiteman version when the piece was new in 1924) and is presumably launched by George Silfies (SLS principal clarinet 1970-2004) for a reading that plays the piece straight so as to enhance its all-round enjoyment. VOX-NX-3018CD is released on July 28. Siegel and Slatkin continue to collaborate and will perform Rhapsody in Blue next January 21 in St Louis. Hopefully the rest of Slatkin’s Vox Rachmaninov and his Prokofiev film scores will follow.