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CD Review

George Gershwin

Porgy and Bess

  • Leontyne Price
  • William Warfield
  • Cab Calloway
Eva Jessye Choir
RIAS Orchestra/Alexander Smallens
Guild Historical GHCD2313/4 2CDs 139m ADD (Rec live, 1952)
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This splendid recording featuring a stellar cast of what has to be one of the 20th century's definite masterpieces is a major discovery. Featuring the up and coming Leontyne Price and William Warfield in the roles of Bess and Porgy, there is a definite sense of authenticity and brilliance about proceedings.

The notes by Robert Matthew Walker tell us that this was the work's first European performance after the famous commercial recording was issued by CBS in 1952. Although stage noise is quite overbearing and dominant in some stages, the music comes across as quite magnificent and it goes without saying that the singing is consistently out of the top drawer with the orchestra also playing an important role.

If not displacing other notable modern versions of this work by Maazel and Rattle, this new offering from Guild more than deserves its place in the historical pantheon of this great work from that master of jazz, George Gershwin.

Copyright © 2008 by Gerald Fenech