Gershwin, Bernstein, Milhaud, Adams, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Antheil, Raksin

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Adams,Antheil,Bernstein,Gershwin,Hindemith,Milhaud,Raksin,Stravinsky
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.

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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.

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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