Four Piano Blues - Piano Works by Copland & Gershwin

Author: 
Andrew Achenbach

Four Piano Blues - Piano Works by Copland & Gershwin

  • (4) Piano Blues
  • Sonata for Piano
  • (The) cat and the mouse
  • (3) Preludes
  • Gershwin Songbook, I'll build a stairway to paradise
  • Gershwin Songbook, Fascinating rhythm
  • Gershwin Songbook, Oh, lady be good
  • Gershwin Songbook, The man I love
  • Gershwin Songbook, Somebody loves me
  • Gershwin Songbook, Sweet and low-down
  • Gershwin Songbook, 's Wonderful
  • Gershwin Songbook, Liza (All the clouds'll roll away)
  • Gershwin Songbook, Who cares (so long as you care for me)?
  • Gershwin Songbook, I got rhythm
  • (An) American in Paris

Mark Anderson brings a compelling grandeur and eloquent fervour to Copland’s imposing Sonata of 1939-41 (apparently Leonard Bernstein’s favourite work), achieving a splendid concentration and unforced gravitas in the riveting concluding Andante sostenuto in particular. In the frustrating continuing absence of Peter Lawson’s Virgin Classics account (5/91), this must now assume top-ranking status. The Sonata is preceded by an extremely touching performance of Copland’s Four Piano Blues (completed in 1948, but spanning some 22 years), and Anderson rounds off his recital with the same composer’s mischievous ‘Scherzo humoristique’ entitled The Cat and the Mouse (his first published work, dating from 1920).
As for the Gershwin items, the gorgeous centre-piece of the Three Preludes has just the right blend of seductive glow and soulful languor, while the ten song arrangements published under the title of ‘Broadway Showstoppers’ make a delicious sequence (I particularly liked Anderson’s ’s Wonderful, bright and chipper rather than indulgently swooning). The effective transcription of An American in Paris was made by William Daly, a friend of the composer who attended every rehearsal of Gershwin’s exhilarating evocation. We are told that Anderson contributes a healthy sprinkling of his own editorial ideas (‘which he believes benefit this version, including a number of otherwise missing parts’); note, too, the extra expressive freedom a single performer can impart to the glorious central blues melody.
There is rather more than a hint of strain in any heftier tuttis throughout; otherwise, the sound is eminently truthful and the audience impeccably behaved (and, I should add, rightly appreciative).'

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