P1252. GEORGE GERSHWIN: Three Preludes; Rhapsody in Blue - Andante; Rhapsody #2 for Piano & Orchestra; w.Ross Gorman (Clarinet) & Paul Whiteman Cond.: Rhapsody in Blue (both the 1924 and 1927 Versions); w.Nat Shilkret Cond.: An American in Paris (all Played by the Composer). (Canada) St Laurent Studio YSL 78-409, recorded 1924-31, [the Rhapsody #2 from a 1931 Private Recording]. Transfers by Yves St Laurent.
“George Gershwin! His name conjures memories and nostalgic imaginings of the Jazz Age, the Roaring Twenties, flappers, musicals tumbling forth in glorious profusion from his creative, fertile imagination. Gershwin represented all this, of course, and so much more: his serious compositions, which confounded the critics at first performances, remain highly popular in the concert repertoire, and his stage and film songs continue to be jazz and vocal standards. Gershwin's music was his personal digestion of European, jazz, and black styles, characterized by melodies at once catchy and beautiful, accentuated by wonderfully complex rhythmic patterns. He was a bundle of energy, a school dropout at fifteen whose wrote the enormously successful ‘Swanee’ at nineteen, a playboy who rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous of two continents, a natural athlete, a painter of considerable talent, a generous, gregarious man with an ego the size of a ballroom who helped promote the careers of other musicians such as Vernon Duke, Oscar Levant, and Arnold Schönberg. He never experienced a dry spell or the composer's equivalent of writer's block, and he was equally adept at composing music to which words were added or fitting music to book and lyrics already written, as he did in PORGY AND BESS. He loved nothing more than parties where he could (and did) monopolize the evening at the piano, playing and singing his own works for the friends who adored him.
Gershwin admired Irving Berlin, and among his earliest musical heroes were Liszt and the great pianists then playing in New York, artists such as Josef Lhevinne, Josef Hoffmann, and composer-pianist Ferruccio Busoni.
Gershwin's first Broadway show, LA, LA, LUCILLE, ran for one hundred performances in 1919, the same year that Al Jolson heard ‘Swanee’ (written in 1917) and added it to his touring show. ‘Swanee’ was a tremendous hit which sold over two million records its first year, and George was well on his way to fame and fortune. For the next five years he wrote the music for GEORGE WHITE'S SCANDALS, and in the 1922 SCANDALS he included a one-act opera called BLUE MONDAY. This opera lasted only a single performance, but it was the first serious music by the successful young composer (who by now had entered New York society and become an equally successful man about town).”
- Jane Erb, ClassicalNet.com
“Each of these disks, from Canadian engineer Yves St Laurent… [feature] St Laurent's natural transfer – made without filtering, like all his dubbings – it is easy to listen to, despite the surface noise.”
- Tully Potter, CLASSICAL RECORD QUARTERLY, Summer, 2011