Willem Breuker Kollektief

Gershwin

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AllMusic Review by

Breuker had already recorded "Rhapsody in Blue" for the BVHaast label (Rhapsody in Blue, BVHaast 044) several years prior to this release, so it was not a total surprise when he chose to dedicate this album to the work of George Gershwin. He (along with Henk de Jonge and Chris Abelen) made an excellent decision to adhere as closely as possible to the original arrangements for the pieces rather than the lush, symphonic constructs that soften and romanticize the majority of Gershwin recordings. Listeners familiar only with more poppish albums from '50s through the '80s are often surprised (even horrified) when they hear original recordings with Gershwin at the helm; the orchestrations sound harsh and raucous, and the tempos accelerated (at least to ears suckled on the more Muzak-y, easily palatable versions most commonly heard). Thus, "An American in Paris" retains the grit, heat, and earthy jazziness that was originally intended and sounds all the better for it. Breuker fills out his Kollektief with the Mondriaan Strings, providing all the "traditional" accompaniment necessary, and chooses pieces with a balanced ear, juxtaposing the lovely and lazy "Lullaby" with the frenetic "Cuban Overture." Gershwin's gorgeous "Three Preludes" (anticipating Samuel Barber's similar "Excursions") was originally released on the Kollektief's Rhapsody in Blue CD and is given an extremely beautiful reading by Henk de Jonge to close out the Gershwin album. For fans of Breuker, this is one of his best "repertoire" albums -- and for lovers of Gershwin, this might be about as close as one gets to the spirit of the original.

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