Porgy and Bess, A Symphonic Picture (Fritz Reiner, 1945)

31 May 2012 23:41 13
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Gershwin: Porgy and Bess - A Symphonic Picture
(arranged by Robert Russel Bennett)
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Fritz Reiner, conductor

Recorded on March 27, 1945, in Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, Pa., on American Columbia matrices XCO 34521 through 34526. Issued later in 1945 as Columbia Masterworks Set M-572 (records 12118-D through 12120-D) and in automatic sequence as Set MM-572 (records 12121-D through 12123-D).

This is the only recording that Fritz Reiner made of this well-known arrangement by Robert Russell Bennett, which was prepared in 1942 at Reiner's instigation. Bennett writes, in a quote extracted from the liner notes for this album, that "Dr. Reiner selected the portions of the opera that he wanted to play and also set the sequence of the excerpts. He expressed his ideas as to instrumentation, wishing to make generous use of saxophones and banjo, and to dispense with Gershwin's pet instrument, the piano.

"I proceeded not only to follow Dr. Reiner's ideas faithfully, but also to remain completely loyal to George's harmonic and orchestral intentions. In other words, although carrying out Dr. Reiner's approach, I have been careful to do what I knew - after many years of association with Gershwin - Gershwin would like as a symphonic version of his music."

The excerpts from "Porgy and Bess" that were used in this arrangement are as follows:

Scene in Catfish Row (with peddlers' calls)
Opening of Act 3 (at 3:23)
Opening of Act 1 (at 6:05)
"Summertime" (at 6:32)
"I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" (at 9:08)
Storm Music (at 10:31)
"Bess, You Is My Woman Now" (at 12:03)
The Picnic Party (at 15:52)
"There's A Boat That's Leavin' Soon For New York" (at 17:55)
"It Ain't Necessarily So" (at 20:40)
Finale ("O Lawd, I'm On My Way") (at 22:24)

To download a higher-quality audio file of this recording, please visit my blog, The Shellackophile - http://shellackophile.blogspot.com - where this and many other vintage recordings may be downloaded.

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