Under the baton of the Venezuelan-born conductor of American descent and People's Artist of Ukraine recipient, Hobart Earle ((b. 1960), the Moscow City Symphony - Russian Philharmonic performs George Gershwin's An American in Paris. Recorded at Moscow International House of Music, Svetlanov Hall, on September 29, 2014.
After the stunning successes of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue (1924) and the Piano Concerto in F (1925), Walter Damrosch, then conductor of the New York Philharmonic, was anxious to capitalize on the young composer's growing fame. He requested a work from Gershwin for a first performance in Carnegie Hall in mid-December of 1928. Gershwin had journeyed to Paris and was thoroughly immersed in the mood of the French capital. He brought back authentic Parisian taxi horns, which were used as an integral part of the work. The piece is a true tone poem, inspired by extra-musical considerations – the sights, sounds, and moods of Paris. Deems Taylor, the 1920s composer and critic, furnished a blow-by-blow program for the piece from which I quote a brief excerpt: "You are to imagine an American visiting Paris, swinging down the Champs-Elysées on a mild sunny morning in May or June... Our American's ears being open as well as his eyes, he notes with pleasure the sounds of the city. French taxicabs seem to amuse him particularly". Although he claimed not to have a program in mind when he wrote the work, Gershwin did sketch his own general scenario: "An opening section, in which an American visitor strolls about Paris and ‘absorbs the French atmosphere’, is followed by a rich blues with a strong rhythmic undercurrent", representing an episode of homesickness on the visitor's part. But the American overcomes his spell of depression and once again revels in the sights and sounds of Paris. "At the conclusion", according to the composer, "the street noises and French atmosphere are triumphant".
A three-part form is discernible in the composition. The slow middle section includes the famous "homesickness blues" solo by the trumpet, later interrupted by a Charleston-like, highly rhythmic figure also played by the trumpet. The harmonies in this work are spiced with stacked-third sonorities: ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth chords. Gershwin admitted that some influence of Debussy bore on the work, and indeed impressionistic passages can be heard in the section before the unforgettable bluesy trumpet solo. Readers interested in an in-depth analysis should consult Steven E. Gilbert's The Music of Gershwin (Yale University Press, 1995). While there are innumerable recordings of the work available, the most authentic one (although it lacks good sound) is the first one, made on February 4, 1929, with Nathaniel Shilkret conducting the Victor Symphony Orchestra (Victor 39563 and 39564; RCA AVM1-1740); this recording was available (as of 1999) in the Smithsonian Institution's 4-CD album titled I Got Rhythm: The Music of George Gershwin. Gershwin played the celeste part on this recording and obviously was present for the session, presumably indicating that Shilkret's interpretation was acceptable to the composer.
Source: Norbert Carnovale (allmusic.com)
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
♪ An American in Paris (1928)
Moscow City Symphony - Russian Philharmonic
Conductor: Hobart Earle
Moscow International House of Music, Svetlanov Hall, September 29, 2014
|Moscow International House of Music|
Moscow City Symphony - Russian Philharmonic is resident orchestra of Moscow International House of Music (MIHM). Since 2002, the very moment of its opening, MIHM is concert and rehearsal base of Russian Philharmonic.
Moscow International House of Music is a modern performing arts centre which does not have analogues in Russia. It's an independent producers' association which arranges performances of Russian and foreign symphony orchestras, chamber ensembles, soloists-instrumentalists, opera and ballet artists, theatre, jazz, variety, and folk groups.
House of Music on Krasnye Holmy is a ten-storied building with a total area about 42.000 square metres built in 2002 on the initiative of the Moscow City Government and outstanding musician and public figure Vladimir Spivakov. MIHM opened its first season in autumn 2003, proving itself as one of the most prestigious venues in Moscow. Except Russian Philharmonic, The National Philharmonic of Russia, State Chamber Orchestra "Moscow Virtuosi", and the Vladimir Spivakov International Charity Foundation are based at MIHM as well. Infrastructure of the House of Music includes recording studio with rehearsal room, audio and video complex with European standard multiple switching system, exhibition hall, restaurant and summer patio, underground parking, and Blutner German piano brand showroom.
Concerts and performances, major international forums and recitals, presentations and festive shows, conferences and corporate meetings are held in Svetlanov Hall (1699 seats), Chamber Hall (556 seats), and Theatre Hall (524 seats) of the Moscow International House of Music.
Svetlanov Hall is named after outstanding Soviet and Russian conductor Evgeny Svetlanov. The hall is paneled with Siberian larch wood which is reputed to be the best "acoustic" wood in the world. The biggest organ in Russia built by two leading German companies, Glatter-Gotz and Klais is placed at Svetlanov Hall. The instrument has 84 stops, 4 manuals and possesses unparalleled sound abilities. The bronze bust of Evgeny Svetlanov by sculptor M. Anikushin is set up in the foyer of the hall. It was donated to the House of Music by Nina Svetlanova, the widow of the great conductor on June 13, 2005.
Chamber Hall is located on ground flours beneath Svetlanov Hall. It is decorated with pillars in green and purple tones. The hall is furnished with a movable positive organ with 7 stops and 1 manual made by German company Glatter-Gotz. In terms of its architectural acoustics, Chamber Hall is considered one of the best Moscow venues to perform chamber music.
Theatre Hall is multifunctional. Number of seats may range from 400 to 524. The hall and foyer are designed in violet colour in combination with dark-brown and grey.
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