Mark Bebbington performs Gershwin’s Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, Variations on I Got Rhythm and 8 Preludes

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Gershwin
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Gershwin
WORKS: Concerto in F; Rhapsody in Blue; Variations on I Got Rhythm; 8 Preludes
PERFORMER: Mark Bebbington (piano); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra/Leon Botstein 
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 260-2  

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The British pianist Mark Bebbington and American conductor Leon Botstein offer an extremely broad view of Gershwin’s Concerto in F, taking five minutes longer for the slow movement than Lincoln Mayorga and Steven Richman on the new Harmonia Mundi recording (see this month’s Concerto Choice, p80). The slower tempo may partly be imposed by the full size of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the generous acoustic of London’s St John’s, Smith Square. But Bebbington is an adept soloist with a real flair for jazz, as can be heard, too, in the colourful Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’ and the Rhapsody in Blue, played in Grofé’s familiar final version with symphony orchestra (which Gershwin never heard), though with a strikingly jazzy contribution from the RPO’s (uncredited) clarinettist. There’s a valuable bonus disc of solo Preludes: not just the published set of three, but eight assembled from various sources, including a posthumously reconstructed piece called Sleepless Night which deserves a place in the Gershwin canon.

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Anthony Burton