Finnissy: Gershwin Arrangements

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Metier
WORKS: Gershwin Arrangements
PERFORMER: Ian Pace (piano)
This disc deserves a place on the shelves of every serious collector. These two cycles of Gershwin arrangements contain some of Finnissy’s best and most thought-provoking music played by one of his greatest advocates. Most of Finnissy’s output contains pre-existing music, but those who only know works such as English Country Tunes or Folklore may be surprised at how identifiable Gershwin’s melodies are. Conversely, those who know little or nothing of Finnissy’s music may be disconcerted initially by how far these pieces seem to stray at times from Gershwin. For the latter, it is worth remembering that Gershwin’s songs have been treated as malleable material from the start of their existence. Most people think they know how ‘Summertime’ should go, but relatively few are thinking of the operatic original. Indeed, some of the more dissonant and daring arrangements for piano were in improvisations by Gershwin himself. Finnissy joins a long line of transcribers including, of course, figures from both trad and progressive jazz, as well as composers such as Grainger and Earl Wild. The emotions in Finnissy’s arrangements are often as complex as the music is intricate, at one moment poignant, disturbing at the next, but always utterly compelling. Strongly recommended. Christopher Dingle