Gershwin: Finnissy arrangements; Rhapsody in Blue; Piano Concerto in F

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Finnissy arrangements; Rhapsody in Blue; Piano Concerto in F
PERFORMER: Joanna MacGregor (piano)/ LSO/Carl Davis
Joanna MacGregor’s style is best suited to the solo items on this disc: three meditative Gershwin arrangements by Michael Finnissy and a flock of the composer’s own renditions of his songs. After the over-sophistication of Finnissy, the composer’s own treatment of his music comes up with wonderful clarity. Played with love and care, they make for the kind of listening which starts as background but then grabs you unexpectedly – just try ‘’S Wonderful’ or ‘Fascinating Rhythm’. MacGregor coaxes rather than pounds in the accepted manner – this may not be everyone’s ideal Gershwin playing, but it demands attention. She seems a touch fragile when set against the jazz band version of the Rhapsody in Blue. Here the LSO under Carl Davis enjoy themselves hugely, swooping and swooning in the solos, even if they don’t quite manage smoky backroom authenticity. Orchestra and soloist gel rather better in the Piano Concerto, which gets the performance it deserves. This generous and attractive collection is a sound investment. Jan Smaczny