Gershwin - Porgy and Bess
Glyndebourne Chorus; London Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle
EMI 234430-2 Buy now
(3h 9' · DDD · T/t)
Willard White bass Porgy; Cynthia Haymon sop Bess; Harolyn Blackwell sop Clara; Cynthia Clarey sop Serena; Damon Evans ten Sportin’ Life; Marietta Simpson mez Maria; Gregg Baker bar Crown
The company, orchestra and conductor from the outstanding 1986 Glyndebourne production recreate a very real sense of Gershwin’s Catfish Row community on this complete recording. Such is its atmosphere and theatricality, we might easily be back on the Glyndebourne stage. From the very first bar it’s clear just how instinctively attuned Rattle and this orchestra are to every aspect of a multifaceted score. The cast, too, are so right, so much a part of their roles, and so well integrated into the whole, that one almost takes the excellence of their contributions for granted. Here is one beautiful voice after another, beginning in style with Harolyn Blackwell’s radiant ‘Summertime’, which, at Rattle’s gorgeously lazy tempo, is just about as beguiling as one could wish. Willard White conveys both the simple honesty and inner strength of Porgy without milking the sentiment and Haymon’s passionately sung Bess will go wherever a little flattery and encouragement take her. As Sportin’ Life, Damon Evans not only relishes the burlesque elements of the role but he really sings what’s written a lot more than is customary. The entire cast delivers throughout with all the unstinting fervour of a Sunday revivalist meeting. Sample the final moments of the piece – ‘Oh Lawd, I’m on my way’ – if that doesn’t stir you, nothing will.