The big attraction here is Telarc jazz star Michel Camilo as the soloist in the two big Gershwin piano concertos. I was curious if this would be a complete re-imagining of the Rhapsody as Chick Corea and other jazz pianists have done with classical works. It’s not – there are only a few places where one senses just a bit more of a swing or swagger in the piano part, but it’s quite subtle. The performances of both works are excellent – brash and sparkling as Gershwin intended them to be. Thery’re up against plenty of competition – over 370 Rhapsodies in Blue in the catalog at present. The Concerto in F of 1925 was Gershwin’s major effort to be a serious classical composer. He wrote the highly original work all by himself, without the assistance Ferde Grofe had provided for the Rhapsody in Blue. It’s been my favorite piano concerto since I performed it in college.
I found the lighter, more swinging approach to both works similar to one of my favorite discs of the pair – the one conducted by Mitch Miller on Arabesque, but the sonics are of course far better in the SACD format. The piano sound is especially realistic and well-balanced with the orchestra. The whole sonic presentation has a sheen and finish plus a more distant pickup that contrasts with the more rough-edged and close up sound on the longtime standard recording of both works – Earl Wild as the soloist with the Boston Pops on RCA. [Reviewed Here] Wild wasn’t the least bit stodgy in his playing of the works either, but the recent RCA SACD is only three channels whereas the Telarc is 5.0. But the Fiedler album squeezes in with the two works three other Gershwin gems: An American in Paris, Variations on I Got Rhythm, and the Cuban Overture – and it’s mid-priced too. You couldn’t go wrong having both in your collection.