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Great Scenes from Gershwin's Porgy & Bess Original recording remastered

4.5 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, March 9, 1999
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Editorial Reviews

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RCA's 1963 highlights disc brought the stars of the early-1950s revival of the work, Leontyne Price and William Warfield, together again. By this time, however, Price was well advanced on her meteoric rise to operatic stardom and Warfield was gaining renown as a recitalist. Both are glorious here and Price's shimmering "Summertime" is worth the price of the disc. A plus is the spirited Sportin' Life of John W. Bubbles, who created the role in the original 1935 production; an old-time vaudevillian, he wrings fun and irony from his all-too-short excerpts. Henderson conducts with vigor and RCA's "High Performance" sound, when heard on a good system, is remarkable. --Dan Davis

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Introduction; Summertime
  2. A Woman Is a Sometime Thing
  3. Gone, Gone, Gone
  4. My Man's Gone Now
  5. I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'
  6. Bess, You Is My Woman (From "Porgy and Bess") - William Warfield
  7. It Ain't Necessarily So
  8. What You Want wid Bess?
  9. I Loves You, Porgy
  10. There's a Boat Dat's Leaving Soon for New York - John W. Bubbles
  11. Oh Bess, Oh Where's My Bess
  12. Oh, Lawd, I'm On My Way


Product Details

  • Performer: Leontyne Price, William Warfield, McHenry Boatwright
  • Conductor: Skitch Henderson
  • Composer: George Gershwin
  • Audio CD (March 9, 1999)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: RCA Red Seal
  • Run Time: 48 minutes
  • ASIN: B00000I9MJ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,408 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I first heard this recording as a high school student in the '60's, and it changed my life. I later became a New York freelance musician, and worked with Skitch Henderson on occasion... and every time I saw him I was reminded of this performance.
To respond to some of the other reviews... John Bubbles is phenomonal as Sporting Life - he was, after all, the composer's personal choice for the role - and those who quibble that his acting is better than his voice are missing the point: "Porgy and Bess" is, first and foremost, meant to be acted! (And, truth be known, I like his voice...)
Which brings us to the legendary Leontyne Price/William Warfield combination. After listening to this again (and the restored sound is wondrous), I felt that a definition of Hell would be to have to follow Leontyne Price in this - or ANY - role. She owned the role of Bess by the time this recording was made, and her acting and vocal skills are matchless (It's possible that the opening "..Ooooh.." in "What You Want Wit' Bess?" is one of the sexiest and most dramatic ten seconds in the history of recording). William Warfield is not far behind in his portrayal of Porgy - it is beatifully sung, if not as convincingly acted as some of the other characters.
But that said, what makes this recording absolutely matchless - and probably forever - is the playing of the nameless 1960's New York studio musicians who comprise the "RCA Victor Symphony Symphony Orchestra." What they bring to the "pit" is what is missing from virtually every other "Porgy" recording: the innate swagger, confidence, and panache that come from a career of working with one foot firmly in the "symphonic" world and the other firmly in the "commercial" (in New York's, case, Broadway/Jazz) world.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is my all-time favorite recording of Porgy & Bess. Leontyne Price quite rightly won a Grammy for her performance on this album. John Bubbles is the best Sporting Life I've ever heard; bringing to the role a mischievous energy (and a wonderful sand-papery voice) that is utterly engaging. William Warfield (the father, I believe, of comedian Marsha Warfield) is splendid as Porgy. Although this album isn't the full opera, it offers the best-known numbers; the ones we all know and love. I originally found a cassette of this recording in England, wore the tape right out and just, happily, bought the CD.
Most highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The beautifull voice and perfect control of Leontine Price and other singers in this cast blend into a perfect performance with the subtly directed music. This recording of main songs from the greatest American opera gives a sheer pleasure to the listener. After a recent hearing of the live opera performance given in 2002 in New York, with the orchestra playing too loud and the voices trying to be louder and struggling with control, coming home and putting on this CD was a wonderfull relief and a reward.
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Format: Audio CD
This is the first "Porgy and Bess recording I ever heard, and though it's not complete, it is the BEST. Bess is sung definitively by Leontyne Price, and the Porgy is every bit equal to her performance. Gershwin's music for this opera is amazing. It is jazz and black culture put into operatic form, and you can't get more soulful than that. "Summertime" (my favorite song ever) of course was wonderful, and "My Man's Gone Now" is the saddest thing I have ever heard - you can listen to it over and over. "Bess, you is my Woman Now" makes me cry too, it's so sweet. The acting is convincing as could be wished. As for Sportin' Life, he is played by the creator of the role who was NOT an opera singer but rather a vaudeville star, and chosen by Gershwin himself. At first he seems rather out of place beside the rest of the cast (Leontyne Price, for goodness' sake!) but he grows on you. I once heard a bass rendition of "It Ain't Neccisarily So" that was sung very low and deep, and very straight - and although I'm aware that Sportin' Life is a tenor role, it was a very effective rendition. However, as an indiviudual, this Sportin' Life was not bad at all, and his "There's a Boat dat's Leavin' Soon for New York" was VERY good and almost seductive, I thought.

Really, you couldn't get much better for $12.00!
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Format: Audio CD
This is my absolute favorite recording of "Porgy and Bess." The orchestrations are just exquisite and I love the tempo. Leontyne Price is my favorite Bess. She gives the right attitude and vocal technique that Bess needs. Another reason why I love this recording is because there are great performances all around. "Summertime" is just marvelous; not soft and operatic with no feeling like many opera singers make it, but real and with real feeling. I have yet to find a better rendition of "My man's gone now." Again, REAL attitude and I love the personality that the singer brings to it; and the last notes are not mushy, like many singers do with it. The only criticism is with Sportin' Life, he's not a real opera singer. It seemed like they just cast him because of his speaking voice and acting skill. William Warfield, by the way, gives Porgy that delicious huskiness and cut that only a good baritone can give to it.
Just a marvelous recording, definitely a keeper!!
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