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Gershwin, G.: Clarinet and Strings Music - Porgy and Bess Suite / An American in Paris / Preludes
 
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Gershwin, G.: Clarinet and Strings Music - Porgy and Bess Suite / An American in Paris / Preludes

1 Nov 2009 | Format: MP3

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 17 Nov 2009
  • Label: Naxos
  • Copyright: (C) 2009 Naxos
  • Total Length: 1:03:41
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B002VVYE1M
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J Scott Morrison HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 Dec 2009
Format: Audio CD
I'm guessing that the impetus for this clarinet and string orchestra CD that features some of George Gershwin's most familiar 'classical' music was that clarinet gliss at the beginning of 'Rhapsody in Blue'; it was certainly startling at the time of its 1924 première and every clarinetist has played it at one time or another. Michel Lethiec is a well-known French clarinetist and on this disc he is given the opportunity to front a string orchestra in arrangements of various Gershwin works -- a Suite from 'Porgy and Bess', the middle movement of the Piano Concerto in F, a short excerpt from 'An American in Paris', and the Three Piano Preludes. They were all arranged by French composer and conductor Franck Villard. And some of them are quite pleasant, e.g. the Three Preludes and the 'American in Paris' excerpt. The Concerto in F excerpt is OK (but not very seductive, as it should be). However, the lengthy (44 minutes) 'Porgy and Bess Suite' is a disaster. The arranger is partly to fault. There are parts of the P&G score that simply don't translate well to clarinet-plus-orchestra, not least the opening orchestral foofara and the Jasbo Brown Blues that follows it. Part of the problem is that Lethiec is an aggressive player who seems to eschew any sort of vibrato and thus does not give us the heat and humanity of the score. C'mon, Lethiec, this music is jazzy! Jazz clarinetists (and opera singers) use vibrato! But worse, the arrangement of most of the Porgy and Bess suite is just not idiomatic. The string orchestra simply can't convey the excitement or sadness or disorderliness of life on Catfish Row. Further, the clarinet is recorded so much to the fore that the orchestra is often an also-ran.

I wanted so much to enjoy this album, to have fun with it, but frankly listening to it became a duty, a chore.

Unless you are a die-hard fan of Monsieur Lethiec, I'd suggest you look elsewhere for your Gershwin fix.

Scott Morrison
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 1 review
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
What Were They Thinking? 8 Dec 2009
By J Scott Morrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I'm guessing that the impetus for this clarinet and string orchestra CD that features some of George Gershwin's most familiar 'classical' music was that clarinet gliss at the beginning of 'Rhapsody in Blue'; it was certainly startling at the time of its 1924 première and every clarinetist has played it at one time or another. Michel Lethiec is a well-known French clarinetist and on this disc he is given the opportunity to front a string orchestra in arrangements of various Gershwin works -- a Suite from 'Porgy and Bess', the middle movement of the Piano Concerto in F, a short excerpt from 'An American in Paris', and the Three Piano Preludes. They were all arranged by French composer and conductor Franck Villard. And some of them are quite pleasant, e.g. the Three Preludes and the 'American in Paris' excerpt. The Concerto in F excerpt is OK (but not very seductive, as it should be). However, the lengthy (44 minutes) 'Porgy and Bess Suite' is a disaster. The arranger is partly to fault. There are parts of the P&G score that simply don't translate well to clarinet-plus-orchestra, not least the opening orchestral foofara and the Jasbo Brown Blues that follows it. Part of the problem is that Lethiec is an aggressive player who seems to eschew any sort of vibrato and thus does not give us the heat and humanity of the score. C'mon, Lethiec, this music is jazzy! Jazz clarinetists (and opera singers) use vibrato! But worse, the arrangement of most of the Porgy and Bess suite is just not idiomatic. The string orchestra simply can't convey the excitement or sadness or disorderliness of life on Catfish Row. Further, the clarinet is recorded so much to the fore that the orchestra is often an also-ran.

I wanted so much to enjoy this album, to have fun with it, but frankly listening to it became a duty, a chore.

Unless you are a die-hard fan of Monsieur Lethiec, I'd suggest you look elsewhere for your Gershwin fix.

Scott Morrison
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