These "sounds of the 30s" are classical pieces, not jazz recordings or popular songs. But, from America to France to even the Soviet Union, the influence of vernacular music in the concert hall reached a high point not matched again until the 1990s and beyond. This release, reuniting the forces heard on an earlier Gershwin recording, makes sense programmatically in its collection of works influenced by popular models; the works here, with the exception of Victor de Sabata's Mille e una notte, are common enough, but they gain by being heard together. Jazz-oriented Italian pianist Stefano Bollani nails the Piano Concerto in G major of Ravel: it is a work deeply influenced by Gershwin and by the jazz Ravel heard directly in New York, but it was by no means an imitation, and it is actually one of Ravel's more intricately structured works. Tending even more toward the use of a vernacular style accent a composer's own personality is Stravinsky's Tango, which stretches out the Argentine dance's characteristic rhythms into dry, angular shapes. The Tango is included twice here, in piano and orchestral versions, for what seems to be no very good reason. Kurt Weill, by contrast, reacted to popular music by embracing it wholeheartedly; he is represented by orchestral versions of a pair of not very familiar but entirely lovely tunes. Which leaves de Sabata, better known as a conductor but also one of the original "pops" composers; Mille e una notte is a splashy work that wears out its welcome after a while but nevertheless offers an obviously much-enjoyed good time for the performers. Generally coherent, enjoyable, and recommended.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Piano Concerto in G major|