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In 1960 Previn was very active in Hollywood but this recording was BEFORE he really made a name for himself in the classical music world. His relevant experience of the time was playing Jazz in a trio with Shelly Mann, and other than his Hollywood activities he was known mostly for has jazz piano work. So in 1960 he was a natural for these works here recorded. I have MANY versions of both works have played the Rhapsody (at home for myself). My only complaints (which have nothing to do with HDTT's work) are that there are cuts in the Rhapsody and the first movement of the Concerto is a little slow...but it averages out with a final movement that is faster than usual (though the rapid-fire piano passages are delivered with superb articularion and very clearly defined...despite the fast tempo). Previn's later recordings (with the London Symphony...not the Pittsburgh) had neither the cuts nor the unusual tempos (much more standard all the way around) so one wonders whether this had more to do with Kostelanetz than with Previn...we'll never know. But the original masters are delivered flawlessly in the processing of the Hi-Res audio files and the recording is great to listen to.
Very idiomatic playing from all concerned. The young Previn is firmly on home territory as are the Kostelanetz Orchestra conducted by 'the man himself’. Piano tone is very clear, but rounded in attack and not overly bright or thin. Previn's contribution in general, as hinted above, is to the manner born. He did go on to record both pieces here again in the early digital era with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (where he also doubled as conductor), but not necessarily to greater effect overall. Kostelanetz, when on the East Coast, conducted the New York Philharmonic in lighter repertoire - in fact many of his recordings more or less feature that orchestra, but - no doubt for contractual reasons (but hardly less of a selling point for music fans at the time either way) - they were usually billed as the Kostelanetz Orchestra when under his baton. This recording, however, is of West Coast provenance and made in Hollywood. Therefore what we are listening to, is, in all probability, a completely different ensemble: information available elsewhere online reveals that the excellent trumpet soloist in the concerto's second movement, is Uan Rasey, a well known and much revered Hollywood session musician. I downloaded the 24/96 flac. This sounds clearer and more involving than Sony's 'official' former Columbia in-house release. There, the sound for me is too clean, too clinical and silky. But here we have a genuine warm and textured tone to the strings (just listen to the violins sing - low down at first, but then up an octave at around 6:30 to around 8:30 into the first movement!). I wouldn't want to be without the 1967 Entremont/Ormandy recording of this, but at this moment in the score, to me, even the great strings of Ormandy’s Philadelphia Orchestra, while not upstaged, are certainly equalled. In the present transfer, you can also hear more natural space between the players, as if you really are there, in a plush concert hall with velvet-unholstered seats. Balance and tempi throughout are apt with rubati perfectly timed. Everything about the Rhapsody is right too, with a perfectly executed clarinet glissando and as lovely a rendition of the central slow melody as you will ever be likely to hear. In the past, releases of Previn's 1960 Concerto recording have appeared alongside Bernstein's version of the Rhapsody (another classic recording), but it's a treat to have these Previn recordings coupled together once again as they first appeared. Add this to the fact that they can now be heard - just as they would have been heard at the time on state-of-the-art 60's hi-fi equipment - in superb transfers from 2-track open reel tape and its associated and fabled transparency of sound. A worthy addition to any music library. Thoroughly recommended.
Title: Gershwin Rhapsody In Blue & Concerto In F
Artist(s): André Kostelanetz And His Orchestra - Andre Previn, piano
Recording Info: Transferred from a 15ips 2-track Tape
Released by Columbia Records 1960
Piano Concerto in F Major 32:09
1 Allegro moderato - Cantabile - Poco meno scherzando 12:56
2 Andante con moto 12:43
3 Allegro agitato 6:30
4 Rhapsody in Blue 13:53
Total Time: 46:02