Orion Weiss / JoAnn Falletta / Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra

Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue; Strike up the Band Overture; Promenade; Catfish Row

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JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra continue their series on Naxos of the orchestral works of George Gershwin with this 2013 release, featuring performances by pianist Orion Weiss and clarinetist John Fullam. Weiss, who has established himself as a concerto soloist of prodigious skill, shines in the Rhapsody in Blue, by far the most celebrated selection here and obviously the selling point of the CD, considering the brilliance of this young artist and his vigorous performance. Fullam's turn in Promenade is a small, jaunty solo, but the piece is a charmer with its tripping melody and it serves as a good-natured interlude for the program. The orchestra delivers the overture to the musical Strike Up the Band with more than a little of the excitement of Broadway, but its real showpiece is Catfish Row: Suite from Porgy and Bess, which presents highlights of the opera in a condensed but effective form. It's worth noting that all the selections are arrangements, so in the strictest sense, these are not orchestral works in Gershwin's own hand, though the arrangement by Ferde Grofé of Rhapsody in Blue is so familiar to listeners, it is intextricably a part of the canon. The other arrangements are less familiar, though Gershwin's music is still well-served by the work of arrangers Don Rose, Sol Berkowitz, and Stephen Bowen. These recordings were made between 2010 and 2012 at the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, and the sound is clear and warm.

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