For Jerome Kern Overtures & Music From the Film Swing Time, conductor John McGlinn employs the National Philharmonic Orchestra on one of his reclamation projects into the music of Broadway composer Jerome Kern, presenting world-premiere recordings of the overtures to eight Kern stage musicals, as well as a suite of pieces from the 1936 movie musical Swing Time. The latter is music that has remained familiar; all that's missing is the singing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on songs like "Pick Yourself Up" and "The Way You Look Tonight." (Some vocals are provided by the Ambrosian Chorus.) Less well-remembered is the music from the shows, if only because McGlinn has focused on some of the older and more obscure Kern musicals, going all the way back to 1914 for the overture to The Girl From Utah (featuring "They Didn't Believe Me") and including flops like 1939's Very Warm for May (an overture that, amazingly, contains not one note from the all-but-forgotten show's one hit song, "All the Things You Are"). The most unusual overture (annotator McGlinn, pulling no punches, calls it "unique and bizarre") is the one for the 1929 show Sweet Adeline, which, instead of being a medley of the Kern songs from this musical with a turn-of-the-century setting, features songs actually from that time (and thus not written by Kern), such as "A Bicycle Built for Two" and "Hello, Mah Baby." McGlinn's musical archeology work here has resulted in a sparkling collection of mostly little-known Kern that will provide repertory fodder for pops orchestras for a long time to come.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann