1. Rhapsody in Blue, arr. Mahan (16:09)
2. Embraceable You, arr. Wild (3:29)
3. Our Love is Here to Stay, arr. Mahan (3:51)
4. I Got Rhythm, arr. Mahan (2:08)
5. They Can’t Take That Away From Me, arr. Mahan (4:38)
6. Walking the Dog, arr. Mahan (4:24)
7. Fascinating Rhythm , arr. Wild (1:44)
8. SWonderful/Funny Face (3:30)
9. Second Rhapsody (16:14)
BONUS DVD: Rhapsody in Blue – a music video conceived and produced by Katie Mahan
CD + DVD 30132
Steinway & Sons
→Album page on Steinway & Sons website
George Gershwin is the quintessential American composer. He gave a unique musical voice to his time and place, and his music immortalizes through art the best that America represents. His song melodies are part of the American consciousness and are beloved throughout the world. Yet, it is as a “serious” classical composer that he most desired to be remembered and respected. This album is therefore dedicated to the memory of the “Classical Gershwin” – the Gershwin whose music brought crowds to the classical concert halls, the Gershwin who successfully incorporated the nuances of jazz and popular music to create a classical music that was uniquely and authentically American. – Katie Mahan
Although Gershwin was a product of the jazz era that he belonged to, he often expressed a desire to quit writing popular music so that he could devote himself to “serious” classical composition. He dreamed of composing symphonies, string quartets, ballets and operas, and his entire short life was a quest for acceptance – musical as well social. He was a musician touched with natural genius who grew up in humble surroundings and was largely self-taught. He merged the American jazz spirit with the European classical music tradition in a manner previously unattempted, and in so doing created his own idiom that is as personal and individual a musical voice as that of Rachmaninov. His success is a reflection of his unending ambition and his innate natural ability to absorb and reflect his surroundings.
The selections on this album are bookmarked by Gershwin’s two rhapsodies – Rhapsody in Blue and the Second Rhapsody. In these works, we hear the evolution of Gershwin’s personality and character, and can trace his personal and compositional development over the eight years that separate them. The remaining works on this album include some of Gershwin’s most beloved song melodies, and show the composer’s lighter side. As with the arrangements of the rhapsodies, the song arrangements presented on this album are carefully conceived in a classical style rather than an improvisatory style, paying tribute to Gershwin’s desire for his music to be part of the classical concert idiom. They seek to capture the spontaneity and innate freedom inherent to Gershwin’s jazz spirit, but are performed not in a jazz manner, but rather as a classical pianist envisions and interprets them.
Many composers have one piece that is so great that it defines him for life, but it is the true genius that uses that piece as a starting point from which he then continues to grow and develop. Gershwin was certainly such an example, and the transition from the composer of popular songs to the composer of respected classical concert works – that he so ardently strived to become – gives a glimpse of his genius. Like all great composers, Gershwin created a sound that was uniquely his own, and whether popular songs or concert works, his compositions are immediately identifiable and could not have been written by anyone else but George Gershwin. His music is authentically American, and his unique musical idiom is responsible for the creation of a truly “American” classical music. In the words of Leonard Bernstein, “Gershwin was, and remains, one of the greatest voices that ever rang out in the history of American urban culture.”
Recorded at the Jesus-Christus-Kirche (Tonmeister: Rainer Maillard: Emil Berliner Studios, Berlin), this recording features 9 tracks and a bonus DVD of Gershwin’s beloved Rhapsody in Blue. The album will be available in multiple formats worldwide on the Steinway & Sons Label. Katie can also be heard performing Rhapsody in Blue and “I got rhythm” on the Steinway Spirio piano beginning November 1.