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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

The Complete Gershwin (Siegel/Slatkin/St-Louis SO)

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Our Vinyl’s Revenge for October is this VOX BOX collection issued in 1974 featuring all the major concert works for orchestra and piano and orchestra by George Gershwin.

The title of the 3-LP box set is a bit of an oversell, as these are not “all” the works for orchestra and piano and orchestra attributed to Mr. Gershwin. Absent in this set are his musical comedy overtures, orchestral settings from the Gershwin songbook and a version of Rialto Ripples for piano and orchestra. All of these were featured in other recordings which may be featured in future discussions.

Two works in this set are more rarely recorded. The Lullaby is a student work originally set for string quartet, and whose main theme gets reused in his 1922 one-act opera Blue Monday. I’ve heard this work in concert in 1987-88 and it was part of Erich Kunzel’s “Gershwin Centennial” anthology. The same goes for Catfish Row, the only “official” suite assembled and published by Gershwin himself from Porgy and Bess. The more recorded suite is the “Symphonic picture” which was arranged by his long-time orchestrator, Robert Russell Bennett.

At the time of this recording, Leonard Slatkin was Walter Susskind’s assistant in Saint-Louis. He would return to the orchestra a few years later as music director (1979–1996). Slatkin in a recent interview explained Susskind asked him to take on the project as he was better suited for American repertoire.

Born into a musical family, Internationally acclaimed pianist Jeffrey Siegel studied with Rudolf Ganz in his native Chicago, with the legendary Rosina Lhévinne at The Juilliard School and, as a Fulbright Scholar, with Ilona Kabos in London. Siegel has been soloist with the world’s great orchestras. A passionate communicator as well as a performer, he hosts Keyboard Conversations, a travelling concert-with-commentary, in major American cities.

For those who follow our podcasting channel, this musical share will be deployed in two parts: today (Sides A, B and D) and next Tuesday (Octiber 12, sides C, E and F).

Happy Listening

George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)

Concerto in F, (1925) *
Trumpet – Susan Slaughter

Lullaby (1919) [Version for string orchestra]
Cello – Yuan Tung
Violin – John Korman

Cuban Overture (1932)
Catfish Row: Symphonic Suite from Porgy and Bess (1935-36)
Piano – Barbara Lieberman
Banjo – David Mortland

An American in Paris (1928)
Clarinet – George Silfies

Shall We Dance (1937 film) - Promenade (Walking the Dog)
Clarinet – George Silfies

Rhapsody in Blue, (1924) *
Second Rhapsody (1931) *
Variations on "I Got Rhythm" (1934) *

* Piano – Jeffrey Siegel
Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra
Leonard Slatkin, conducting

VoxBox – QSVBX 5132
Format: 3 x Vinyl, LP, Stereo, Quadraphonic
Box Set, Album, Quadraphonic
Year – 1974

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