Jean-Yves Thibaudet / Marin Alsop / Baltimore Symphony Orchestra

Gershwin: Piano Concerto; Rhapsody In Blue

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The key word for this disappointing Gershwin album is "no." Jean-Yves Thibaudet, in spite of his bright tone, brilliant technique, and buoyant sense of rhythm, is no Gershwin player, and his performances of Rhapsody in Blue, "I Got Rhythm" Variations, and the Piano Concerto, while technically impeccable, are stiff, angular, and awkward. Marin Alsop, for all her abilities and her undeniable affinity with the Baltimore Symphony, is no Gershwin conductor, and her performances, though big, bright, and sassy, are essentially dead from the neck down when it comes to rhythm, tempo, and especially syncopations. The use of the original jazz band versions of the rhapsody and the concerto, as well as the original manuscript version of the variations, is essentially pointless since Decca's sound is so lacking in clarity and detail that the lighter, leaner scores come off as bloated as later, heavier scores. There are good things here, though; the solos by various members of the Baltimore Symphony are far more in touch with the music than anything Thibaudet or Alsop can manage, though Alsop's rushed entrances frequently cover some of the solos.

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