LABELS: RCA Victor Red Seal
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: New World Jazz
WORKS: Rhapsody in Blue; Prelude, Fugue and Riffs; La création du monde
PERFORMER: New World Symphony/Michael Tilson Thomas (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 09026 68798 2
This disc is a showcase for the spectacular talents of Michael Tilson Thomas’s orchestral academy and, unlike a number of symphonic jazz compilations, it’s wonderful.
The motoric rhythms of John Adams’s Lollapalooza (something ‘large and outrageous’ in American slang) provides an invigorating start with particularly fresh-sounding brass (very Chicago Symphony) and the whole orchestra delighting in its abundance of notes, energy and fun.
Forsaking the lushness of Grofé’s later full-orchestra arrangement for the sinuous and exhilarating interplay of the original jazz-band version, Tilson Thomas and his players are alive to every nuance of Rhapsody in Blue. The excellent Jerome Simas on clarinet triumphs both here and in a sophisticated and mordantly witty performance of Stravinsky’s Ebony Concerto.
Hindemith’s short Ragtime, with its ruthless mockery, is a little bridge between Weill and Shostakovich, and disturbs appropriately. The eccentricities of the Antheil Jazz Symphony (bits of ‘South-of-the-border’ stuff, banjos, frenetic stomping and wha-wha muted brass high on the outrageousness of the invention, plus the campest waltz fragment you could imagine) are delivered with unashamed aplomb.
Great Bernstein, Milhaud both delicate and raucous and a big Hollywood epilogue from David Raksin ensure the continued warmth of all hearts displaced to sleeves. I loved it all. David Wilkins