The Essential George Gershwin
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2 CDs of Gershwin's greatest compositions, sung and played by the preeminent artists in the Columbia vaults! Includes Swanee Al Jolson; Someone to Watch over Me Frank Sinatra; Summertime Billie Holiday; Soon Dorothy Kirsten; Let's Call the Whole Thing Off Fred Astaire; But Not for Me Doris Day; I've Got a Crush on You Ella Fitzgerald; Of Thee I Sing Hi-Lo's; Prelude No. 2 played by Gershwin himself, and more. 41 strokes of genius!
Given his seemingly effortless ability at melding such disparate forms as jazz and gospel with his own rare melodic gifts, it's not hard to view George Gershwin as America's first classical crossover artist. But as this glorious, 41-track double-disc introduction to Gershwin's epochal repertoire quickly demonstrates, that assessment woefully shortchanges the sheer grandeur of "Rhapsody in Blue" or the sultry earthiness of "Summertime." Singer and pop musicologist Michael Feinstein produced the set (as well as contributing a new recording of "Home Blues"), and under his guidance it understandably leans toward Gershwin's remarkable body of songcraft, though it also includes more concert-oriented pieces such as the "Rhapsody" and "Prelude No. 2," both in original performances by the composer. But Feinstein's loving sense of American pop song history insures that the performances here are both inspired and enlightening. Indeed, his choices represent not only a who's who of 20th-century pop and saloon singers--spanning a rich pantheon that includes Jolson, Kelly, Astaire, Holliday, Sinatra, Bennett, Waters, Torme, Clooney, Day, Vaughan, and Fitzgerald--but deftly underscore Gershwin's transcendent synthesis of style, era, and distinctly American subject matter. Also includes a written tribute by modern songwriter Diane Warren and an essay by Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Page. -Jerry McCulley
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The accompanying booklet contains fine essays by music critic Tim Page and composer Diane Warren, as well as liner notes for each of the 41 selections, and a few pictures.
that, for stirring something deep in ones soul, that seems comfortable, and lovingly human. My grandmother kept coming to mind,
picturing her knowing the words to all of these, when I used to visit. Now I'm enjoying these so much, I put it on for several days
in a row for a good week.
Top international reviews
It was a good move.
There are about six bands that I would have cast aside as too mundane, too uninspiring in their presentation, but with most of them, it was comfortable to hear Gershwin done outside the confines of a theatre stage or concert hall. The movie cuts were suddenly not that special either as they were far too familiar and needed their jewel-box settings.
It was the other songs, some by singers I had never heard of, some song versions that had never been released at all before now.
In a major way, this set compliments all the other Gershwin CDs I have, very nicely.
I'm now wondering what other treasures are sitting hidden away in the storage vaults of the various recording companies. As an example, Johnny Mathis recorded one set of Broadway songs, and it sold well. Yet the other set he recorded was never released...until about two years ago. Makes me wonder what recordings of Peggy Lee, Lena Horne("You Got Class"?), Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, and even Frank Sinatra are on shelves or boxes fading away.