Gershwin shines on uninspiring collection

Composer: Gershwin, Boulanger, Tansman
Repertoire: Works for piano and orchestra 
Artists: David Greilsammer (pf) Philharmonic Orchestra of Radio France/Steven Sloane
Rating: 2/5 
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Naïve V 5224

The Music Alexandre Tansman’s Second Piano Concerto is Ravel-meets-Gershwin-meets-Milhaud; Nadia Boulanger, the most influential composition teacher of her age, attempts to be Fauré and Franck in her Fantaisie for Piano and Orchestra. And then Gershwin’s evergreen jazz/classical hybrid Rhapsody in Blue steals the show. 

The Performance Greilsammer plays Russian Roulette with good taste, stretching Gershwin’s rhythms until they threaten to snap in the name of expressivity, indulging in the occasional modern jazz reharmonisation. He just about avoids shooting himself in the foot, but this is a mannered ‘here’s me’ performance. The Tansman concerto is too waffly for such undistinguished material, but Greilsammer treats its genteel divertimento wit sensitively. Boulanger – forever the teacher – is painfully textbook and schooled…and, frankly, boring. 

The Verdict We’re hardly short of Rhapsody in Blues, like Leonard Bernstein’s Sony recording (82876 78768-2). Tansman and Boulanger – forgotten, deservedly. 

Want More? Michael Finnissy’s Gershwin Arrangements (Metier MSV CD92030) mash Gershwin inside other music of his era.