Various: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra: American Night (Works By Gershwin/ Bernstein) (Arthaus Dvd: 107173)
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At the Berlin Waldbuhne in 1995 Sir Simon Rattle conducted an 'American Night' at the Berliner Philharmoniker's annual summer concert with works by Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin. What is the essence of American music? Bernstein gave his opinion at one of his 'Concerts for young people': I don't think there is anyone in the whole world who wouldn't know immediately that Gershwin's music is American. It sounds American, smells of America, and when you listen to it you feel American.' With his 'Rhapsody in Blue' Gershwin succeeded in devising a blend between swinging themes, blues and symphonic elements - 'symphonic jazz'. The first performance was given at New York's Carnegie Hall on 12 February 1924. Gershwin was at the piano. It was a sensational success and induced many composers to follow similar stylistic paths, ultimately without any notable results. One exception is perhaps Leonard Bernstein, whose music often reveals jazz elements in his fondness for syncopations. George Gershwin's genius was at its most creative in the opera 'Porgy and Bess'. Spirituals, gospel, jazz, songs but also love duets in conventional operatic style alternate with one another. Although European orchestras performing outside the US at first found it difficult to adjust to jazz, this American folk opera rapidly became a success world-wide and to this day has not lost its fascination. Sir Simon Rattle was the ideal interpreter of this music for the musicians of the Berliner Philharmoniker. Together with them and an ensemble of first class soloists he earned enthusiastic applause at the Berlin Waldbuhne.
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