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CD Review

George Gershwin

  • Rhapsody in Blue for Piano & Orchestra *
  • An American in Paris
* Jesús Maria Sanromá, piano
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra/William Steinberg
Everest Records SDBR-3067
Find it at Amazon

Countdown Media Group is in the process of releasing the Everest catalog via Amazon.com and iTunes. I have had the good fortune to cover most of this series, and though the CD times are very short – and reflect not any previous reissues, but rather the original LPs – the music itself tends to be very rewarding. Though the bulk of William Steinberg's legacy rests on EMI and Command, three albums were made for Everest before the closing of the label's classical music division. This one, with the long-forgotten Jesús Maria Sanromá, is quite interesting.

Steinberg may have made his name in the German classics, but he was always well-versed in 20th-century music and recorded Gershwin several times. This particular recording of Rhapsody in Blue is fine, if nowhere near as essential as Bernstein's or Wild's versions. The Pittsburgh Symphony plays with vigor, even if in both works on the program they often lack "swing". The trumpet solo in An American in Paris is especially dull. As for Sanromá, he was versatile and a favorite of the Boston Pops Orchestra. He's also the best part of this disc, as he invests his solo part with a real sense of fun. Elsewhere, things are odd. The Pittsburgh brass are enthusiastic but not especially polished, and the strings tend to be scrappy. Steinberg uncharacteristically drags sections of An American in Paris. But still, the whole disc sounds different than any other Gershwin program I've heard, and at the low Amazon and download price, you can afford a listen.

Copyright © 2015, Brian Wigman

Trumpet