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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

My Time is Now: Inspirations from the Gershwins, Haerim Elizabeth Lee, Alex Brown

Violinist Haerim Elizabeth Lee joins with pianist Alex Brown for a program of  George Gershwin in piano-violin arrangements plus a couple of related works by contemporary American composers, all on the CD My Time is Now: Inspirations from the Gershwins (Innova 014).

Featured throughout is George Gershwin's 1933 Model A Steinway Piano which sounds quite lovely.

The tributary works are World Premier recordings of brief pieces by Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, Michael Daugherty and Patrick Harlan. Then there is a most fetchingly stride-y, rag-y "Graceful Ghost" by William Bolcom.

The rest of the program consists of Gershwin gems arranged by Heifetz (10), Dushkin (1), and then three more specially arranged here by pianist Brown.

There are the very familiar ones, such as songs from Porgy and Bess like "It Ain't Necessarily So" and "Summertime" plus standards like "Embraceable You," and then the somewhat lesser known but worthy "Three Preludes" or "Short Story"and finally a ravishing Heifetz arrangement of six minutes from "An American in Paris."

All told this is artful and heartfelt, with Haerim Elizabeth Lee sounding soulful and glorious throughout, with Alex Brown chiming in with the right touch on George's piano.

It reminds us too how Gershwin's considerable art was deeply infused of course with the popular and jazz musical lifestreams so present in the world he inhabited and which at least in the pop realm he formed a fundamental part of. That he in turn had a great impact through his own music is an old story but the music here gives you the happy evidence of his brilliance, filtered through the grand artistry of Ms. Lee and Mr. Brown. The recent works presented here too remind us how his influence extends of course to the American Modern Classical world and its participation in the general music world beyond the American land masses. So too there was the Modern French contributions of Ravel, Debussy and Milhaud for example, in relation to what Gershwin was doing.

It is a very rewarding listen, this. Recommended. 

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