George Gershwin: Rhapsody In Blue 1959 SACD Super Audio CD 2005

Product Notes

Earl Wild's bravura performance of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue was originally released with An American in Paris, and both works received dynamic and colorful interpretations from Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. After several reissues in combination with other works, these popular 1959 recordings appear at last on SACD with the 1961 recordings of the Concerto in F, the Variations on "I Got Rhythm," and -- a pleasant surprise -- the rambunctious Cuban Overture, which was recorded in the same session but not issued on the LP or later CD editions.

Track Listing

  Track # Title
1 Allegro
2 Adagio. Andante Con Moto
3 Allegro Agitato

RCA deserves high marks for providing maximum musical value -- one wishes all the label's SACDs had as much material -- and for keeping the original analog masters in pristine condition; the tapes are ideal for DSD remastering. The multichannel reproduction has its limits, though, for only the left, center, and right channels are used to present the original three-track recordings. However, this is sufficient for most listeners, and thankfully, there is no studio trickery to create an artificial surround sound environment. Wild's performances of the Rhapsody and the Concerto sound realistic and quite clear, but the Variations are perhaps the most vivid, because of slightly closer microphone placement. In all respects, this is a fine disc in the upgraded Living Stereo series. ~ Blair Sanderson, Rovi


G. Gershwin
Rhapsody in Blue
Classical & Opera
Classical Composers
25 January 2005
Gershwin, Wild, Bosp, Fiedler
Sbme/Red Seal ( BGSE )

E: Super Audio CD

Classical Data

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Concerto in F
Earl Wild
Liszt was often called a "piano-centaur," so at one was he with the instrument. Earl Wild could be described in similar terms. The gift of absolute pitch revealed itself at age three as his avidity for the keyboard took prodigious strides. At six he read music fluently, and before he was 12 he was studying piano with Selmar Janson, a pupil of d'Albert and Scharwenka (both students of Liszt). Busoni's "disciple," Egon Petri; Paul Doguereau, a student of Paderewski and Ravel; and Elena Bar re, wife of the phenomenal Russian pianist Simon Bar re, provided later tuition. With his superb m canique and enormous hands, Wild was predestined to take his place among the great pianists, while his training and place in time spread before him the riches, traditions, and secrets of Romantic pianism. In his early teens, Wild was already composing, arranging, and transcribing music for radio station KDKA in Pittsburgh while playing piano and celesta in the Pittsburgh Symphony under Otto Klemperer. NBC hired him as a staff pianist in 1937, a stint that included playing under Toscanini in the NBC Symphony and with whom Wild gave a legendary broadcast performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue in 1942, thereby coming to national notice as a major artist. During World War II, Wild served in the U.S. Navy playing fourth flute in the Navy Band, performing recitals at the White House, and frequently accompanying Eleanor Roosevelt to play "The Star Spangled Banner" on her speaking tours. From 1945 to 1968, Wild was employed by ABC as staff pianist, conductor, and composer -- his oratorio, Revelations, was broadcast to popular acclaim in 1962 and again in 1964. His "Doo-Dah" Variations for piano and orchestra, on Stephen Foster's "Camptown Races," was premiered by Wild with the Des Moines Symphony Orchestra on September 26, 1992. He also gave world-premiere performances of Paul Creston's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Marvin David Levy's Piano Concerto No. 1, a work composed for him. But it was as an interpreter of Romantic literature, especially Liszt -- and such neglected figures as Thalberg, Herz, Scharwenka, Balakirev, Paderewski, Godowsky, and Medtner -- that Wild was most notable. And, like them, he cultivated the art of piano transcription, re-creating the songs of Rachmaninov and Gershwin in his own omnicompetent style. Since his first recording in 1939, Wild compiled an imposing legacy of recorded performances combining scholarly savoir faire with the flair and visceral impact of the born showman. He was internationally in demand as a teacher. ~ Adrian Corleonis, Rovi



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