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GERSHWIN PRELUDES



The three Gershwin Preludes are arguably among the most perfect brief utterances in the entire piano literature.

We begin with the composer's own recording of these pieces regarding which words fail me.  It is unfair to compare these performances with any others.  No one can duplicate the offhand nature of Gershwin's playing or his relationship with the rhythms.

Oscar Levant takes a very different approach to the two (2nd and 3rd) preludes in his recording.  And yet, he owns the style and the mood very nearly as much as Gershwin does.  There is something of the improvisation in both their performances.  I also quite like Iturbi's recordings of the 1st and te 3rd preludes.

Surprisingly, or perhaps not given the affinity the French have always had for jazz, Michel Legrand's set of the Gershwin Preludes is certainly one of the best of all.  Another, not at all surprisingly, is the set as performed by Leon Bates in which he switches the order of the 2nd and the 3rd.  Eugene List and especially Seymour Bernstein definitely have the feel.

Maybe it's a Polish Pianist/Mazurka thing.  Well, almost.  Werner Haas comes pretty close in his performance of the first of the Gershwin Preludes.  Leonard Pennario kinda just misses.  And the young Armenian pianist Hayk Melikyan manages the first prelude really quite well.

There are a number of performances by otherwise brilliant pianists that fall flat.  They just can't seem to manage the rhythms and they don't get the blues.  In the case of Rubinstein, always tastefully elegant, the playing is too pretty and too refined.  The others are trying to walk or run in high heeled shoes, though I must confess to liking Ginzburg's performance of the 2nd of the Gershwin Preludes very much.


3 Preludes

1 Allegro ben ritmato e deciso in B major
2 Andante con moto e poco rubato in C minor
3 Agitato in Eminor



ARTUR RUBINSTEIN
Polish-American pianist (1887 - 1982)
[2nd only]

recorded in 1946




JOSÉ ITURBI
Spanish-Basque pianist (1895 - 1980)

00:181 Allegro ben ritmato e deciso in B major
01:58
3 Agitato in Eminor




GEORGE GERSHWIN
American pianist and composer (1898 - 1937)

recorded ca1928




GRIGORY GINZBURG
Russian pianist (1904 - 1961)

recorded live in 1957




OSCAR LEVANT
American pianist (1906 - 1972)

recorded in 1950




SHURA CHERKASSKY
Russian-born American pianist (1909 - 1995)




EUGENE LIST
American pianist (1918 - 1985)

recorded in 1968




05:51LEONARD PENNARIO, American panist (b 1924 - 2008)
07:20WERNER HAAS, German pianist (1931 - 1976)
[preceded by Gershwin, Ginzburg, Cherkassky and Levant also performing the 1st Prelude]




MICHEL LEGRAND
French pianist and composer (b 1932)

recorded ca1994




SEYMOUR BERNSTEIN
contemporary American pianist




RAMI BAR-NIV
Israeli pianist (b 1945)




LEON BATES
American pianist (b 1949)




KRYSTIAN ZIMERMAN
Polish pianist (b 1956)




BALAZS SZOKOLAY
Hungarian pianist (b 1961)




FRANÇOIS WEIGEL
French pianist (b 1964)

recorded live in 2010




BORIS BEREZOVSKY
Russian pianist (b 1969)
[2nd only]




MASSIMILIANO VALENTI
contemporary Italian pianist

recorded live in 2009




HAYK MELIKYAN
Armenian pianist (b 1980)
[1st only]










For those of you who enjoy murder mysteries, here is my first with a strong musical polemic as background

Murder in the House of the Muse

which is also available as an audiobook.



And this is the more recently published second mystery in the series:

Murder Follows the Muse



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