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Gershwin: Porgy and Bess [Cast Recording, Box set]

Donnie Ray Albert , Clamma Dale , Larry Marshall , Wilma Shakesnider , Carol Brice , Andrew Smith , Alexander B. Smalls , George Gershwin , John DeMain , Houston Grand Opera Audio CD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Price: $21.73 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 13 Songs, 1993 $9.99  
Audio CD, Cast Recording, Box set, 1990 $21.73  
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Audio Cassette, 1993 --  

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Gershwin: Porgy and Bess + George Gershwin - Porgy & Bess / Trevor Nunn · Sir Simon Rattle · W. White · C. Haymon · Glyndebourne Opera + Porgy and Bess (New Broadway Cast)
Price for all three: $57.59

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Product Details

  • Orchestra: Houston Grand Opera
  • Conductor: John DeMain
  • Composer: George Gershwin
  • Audio CD (October 25, 1990)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Cast Recording, Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: RCA Red Seal
  • ASIN: B000003EMO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,188 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Disc: 1
1. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, Introduction And Jasbo Brown Blues
2. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, Summertime
3. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, 'Oh, Nobody Knows When De Lord Is Gonna Call'
4. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, A Woman Is A Sometime Thing
5. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, 'Here Come De Honey Man'; Porgy's Entrance
6. Porgy And Bess: Act 1, Scene 1, 'Here Comes Big Boy!' (Entrance Of Crown And Bess)
See all 14 tracks on this disc
Disc: 2
1. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: It Takes A Long Pull To Get There
2. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: 'Mus' Be You Mens Forgot About De Picnic
3. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'
4. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: 'Lissen There, What I Tells You'
5. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: I Hates Yo' Struttin Style
6. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 1: 'Mornin', Lawyer'
See all 24 tracks on this disc
Disc: 3
1. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene3: 'Why You Been Out On That Wharf So Long, Clara?'
2. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 4: 'Oh, Doctor Jesus' (Hurricane Scene); Summertime (Reprise)
3. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 4: 'What Make You So Still, Bess'; 'Oh, Dere's Somebody Knockin''
4. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 4: 'You Is A Nice Parcel Of Christians'
5. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 4: A Red-Headed Woman
6. Porgy And Bess: Act 2, Scene 4: 'Jake's Boat In De River'
See all 19 tracks on this disc

Editorial Reviews

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Exciting Recording of a Masterpiece September 15, 1999
Format:Audio CD
Forget the overrated, overblown Simon Rattle version on EMI. This recording, based on the famous Houston Grand Opera production, is the one to have. It has all the precision and musicality of the best opera recordings, yet with the theatrical excitement, the sense of involvement, that you get in the best Broadway cast albums--in fact, this recording was made (in only three days) while the cast was busy performing this production on Broadway.
Where to start in cataloguing the virtues of this set? Well, start with the conducting of John DeMain. His pacing of the work is excellent, balancing the operatic and "popular" elements just right, and never overdoing things (unlike Rattle, who always overdoes things). The orchestra, while clearly smaller than Rattle's London Philharmonic, plays well. Donnie Ray Albert is a fine Porgy, sometimes a bit strained at the top but with generally excellent singing and characterization. Clamma Dale's Bess won her awards and acclaim; she never went on to the stardom that was predicted for her, but luckily her extraordinary performance is preserved on these discs. I could go on, but there's no need, because there are no weak performers in this cast, and they all have the ensemble feel and sense of timing that comes from performing the work on the stage together for so many evenings.
The studio sound is excellent: Producer Thomas Z. Shepard goes all-out for sound effects, atmospheric touches, and stereo movement, all of which enhances the drama and the feeling of experiencing a real performance--but with the advantages that studio recording brings.
Though this is clearly the first choice, there are other good recordings of PORGY.
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37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The one by which all PORGYS are measured February 19, 2005
Format:Audio CD
Composer Stephen Sondheim has frequently cited PORGY AND BESS as his favourite calling it "a gift from above." And indeed it is.

And you could not ask for a better recording than this lavish set from the 1976 Houston Grand Opera, lovingly translated to discs by Thomas Sheppard with the same care and dedication he brings to his original Broadway cast recordings.

This album puts you centre stage with extensive use of sound effects and creative use of the stereo spread. The cast is perfection, honed by having performed the show live several times before going into the RCA studios. It's packed with a full libretto and synopsis.

The other "complete" recordings don't measure up. London's is correct but uninspired. EMI's set is well sung but lacks theatricality. All of the elements are in perfect balance on this set.

The old Columbia 1951 album was complete in its day but musicologists have since restored much of the material cut before the Broadway premiere.

Among the highlights discs are the Decca set featuring some of the cast members from both the 1935 and 1942 Broadway productions. A 1950s CD featuring Leontyne Price and William Warfield offers the key arias in a well sung collection. Readers Digest offers excerpts in their Gershwin CD set featuring a woefully bad Porgy, Valentine Pringle.

There are also a variety of Jazz interpretations. A strange 1956 Bethlehem Jazz album with Mel Torme and Frances Faye on Rhino, a highly prized album with Lena Horne and Harry Belafonte, and albums by Sammy Davis Jr and Caremen MacRae, Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis.

Sammy Davis also appeared in the 1959 Samual Goldwyn film version with Sidney Poitier and Dorthy Dandridge.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best November 16, 1999
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The previous writer's review is exceptionally insightful and describes perfectly and comprehensively the many merits of this production and this recording. My only previous exposure to a full-length "Porgy" was the Rattle version, which in comparison to this production is found seriously lacking. Owing primarily to its pacing, the quality of the voices, and its effective and sincere characterizations, this production is without a doubt the best uncut version available. What is perhaps most impressive is the degree to which the singers and the orchestra work together to form a true ensemble and the resulting clarity of interpretation. This is not a program of "stars," and the usual "hits" are well-integrated into the fabric of the entire production. Lovely. Certain to become one of the treasures of your collection.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the Best on Record June 11, 2006
By Publius
Format:Audio CD
I agree with the positive comments made here about this production and this recording. This is the best recording of the full score that I know. Haven't heard the Simon Rattle recording but did not need to, since I already had this one which is practically perfect in every way.

I have owned at least four recordings of this work, starting with the movie soundtrack, then the 1951 revival because I wanted the hear the `complete' score, and then when it was finally recorded complete in stereo for the first time, I bought the Maazel recording (which contrary to a comment made here was done in the 70's not 1969--I think it was 1976). Maazel's tempos are heavy and ponderous and lacking all humor. Elsewhere it's said, he was not the greatest Gershwin conductor. Too true.

Was lucky enough to have seen this production in NYC with the top cast recorded here (the leads alternated as it was too tough to sing either Porgy or Bess 8 nights a week). It was beautifully done, musically and theatrically. DeMain gets nearly all the tempos just right and that is an important thing for Gershwin. The cast act convincingly and sing beautifully.

I understand that Porgy and Bess is one of record producer Thos. Z. Shepherd's favorite operas and the care he put into this recording shows it. It is a live with appropriate sound effects that reproduce the action of the stage version.

Overall lovely recorded sound, with a wide dynamic range (pre-digital, you can hear a very few tape dropouts that I wish they fixed, but who cares). And it works on record theatrically, because it worked on the stage!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful music
Beautiful songs. Wonderful singing. Worth listening to again and again.
Published 2 months ago by Sanity Clause
5.0 out of 5 stars The most perfect recording and production - EVER
This is THE DEFINITIVE version of Porgy and Bess. I saw this production live and I'll never forget it. All other productions pale in comparison. Read more
Published 2 months ago by M. B. Elmore
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Recording
I saw this production on Broadway in the 1970s. I was no fan of opera at the time, but this production sold me. And the recording captures every moment of that thrilling event!
Published 7 months ago by Gaveston
5.0 out of 5 stars A more "Broadway" take on this American classic
I enjoy this recording more than the two others I own: it emphasizes the Broadway roots of G Gershwin. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Herb Kroon
5.0 out of 5 stars Still the best!
While the Rattle version is also a very fine performance (contrary to some unduly biased comments), I agree that this one still takes the palm for the best-sung and most... Read more
Published 9 months ago by James A. Altena
3.0 out of 5 stars Gershwin; Porgy and Bess
I love the songs from this musical, but didn't enjoy hearing the entire story as you would seeing it on the stage. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Lady Di
5.0 out of 5 stars The most Authentic Performance of the Complete Opera
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess is in my opinion the greatest opera in the English language and I think it is a great shame that it has been subject to so much controversy and criticism... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Tomspot
5.0 out of 5 stars The ABSOLUTELY DEFINITIVE Porgy and Bess
I have been giving my self a great Christmas present this year (2012), the opportunity to visit with this dear old friend in one day--The Houston Grand Opera Porgy and Bess. Read more
Published 21 months ago by William S. Oser
5.0 out of 5 stars the whole enchilada
bad metaphor, but so many recordings are only "samples" or "highlights" and this presents the entire opera, as an opera, with the "controversial" sung... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Roger Petrich
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect P & B
Diane Paulus take note!! This is what Porgy and Bess is meant to be. A magnificent version of the Gershwin's and DuBose Heywoods American masterpiece, the current revival ain't... Read more
Published on June 7, 2012 by Tom George
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