Mark Bebbington piano; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Leon Botstein conductor
George Gershwin (1898-1937)
Rhapsody in Blue
Concerto in F
Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’
Plus Bonus CD: 8 Preludes for Solo Piano
Mark Bebbington and Leon Botstein lend fresh ears to George Gershwin favourites (plus a premiere) on Somm Recordings.
Mark Bebbington, best-known for his much-acclaimed recordings of British music, takes a leap across the Atlantic this month to bring his refined and expressive style to a spectacular all-Gershwin CD, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Grammy Award-nominated American conductor Leon Botstein. The pair, supported by the RPO in fine form, take a fresh interpretive look at some of Gershwin’s best-loved repertoire – Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue and the ‘I Got Rhythm’ Variations. As a bonus, the second CD features the first-ever integral recording of Gershwin’s Eight Preludes for Solo Piano all at the price of a single album.
Anyone familiar with Mark Bebbington’s probing interpretations – which have netted him seven five-star reviews in a row from BBC Music Magazine – and the questing musical explorations of Leon Botstein (currently in his 23rd year as Music Director of the American Symphony Orchestra) will know what to expect. And, says Bebbington, they uncovered unexpected shades among the famous melodies. “There is a real Mahlerian melancholy that lies at the heart of the slow movement of the Concerto,” he says, “and it’s when you take note of those profundities that the fierce joy elsewhere really makes sense.”
Leon Botstein is similarly known for restlessly seeking new truths in works both familiar and overlooked, and he and Bebbington bring the same chemistry to the studio that infused their successful appearance together recently at Carnegie Hall. “Alongside all the symphonic depth and grandeur there is also a heady cocktail of charleston and ragtime, spiked with jazz,” reflects Bebbington, “and finding the balance between all of those elements, the way they live together, has been a fascinating journey.”
This will be a Gershwin recording to remember – fresh interpretations, a premiere, and two fine musicians enjoying every moment.
Mark Bebbington is one of the UK’s most respected concert and recording artists. He has made more than 30 recordings, exclusively for SOMM, including the world premiere of Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia for Piano and Orchestra, three much-admired early Mozart piano concertos, and series of the complete piano music of Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, John Ireland, Arthur Bliss and of Frank Bridge. Forthcoming releases include Vaughan Williams’ piano music and the first-ever truly complete cycle of Arnold Bax.
As busy in the concert hall as in the recording studio, Bebbington recently made his Carnegie Hall debut with the American Symphony Orchestra, played London’s Cadogan Hall twice in three months (with, respectively, the Flanders Symphony Orchestra under Jan Latham-Koenig and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under Leon Botstein) and has also appeared with the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia, London Mozart Players, Orchestra of the Swan and others. UK plans include a major tour with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra, a return to the London Philharmonic, performances in London and Nottingham with the Royal Philharmonic, and his debut with the Buffalo Philharmonic.
Leon Botstein brings a renowned career as both a conductor and educator to his Music Directorships of The Orchestra Now and of the American Symphony Orchestra (which he has led since 1992), and to his co-Artistic Directorships of Bard SummerScape and the Bard Music Festival. He was the Music Director of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra from 2003–2011. Mr. Botstein also has an active career as a guest conductor with orchestras around the globe; orchestras he has worked with include the LA Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, NDR Symphony Orchestra in Hamburg, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Russian National Orchestra and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra of Venezuela. He has made many recordings for which he has received plaudits including a Grammy nomination. As well as being a prolific author and music historian, he has been President of Bard College since 1975. He has received numerous honours for his contributions to the music industry.
On This Recording
- Piano Concerto: I. Allegro
- Piano Concerto: II. Adagio – Andante con moto
- Piano Concerto: III. Allegro agitato
- Rhapsody in Blue
- I Got Rhythm Variations
- Novelette in Fourths
- Prelude (Fragment)
- Melody No. 17: Melody No. 17, “Sleepless Night”
- 3 Preludes: No. 1 in B-Flat Major: Allegro ben ritmato e deciso
- 3 Preludes: No. 2 in C-Sharp Minor: Blue Lullaby: Andante con moto
- 3 Preludes: No. 3 in E-Flat Minor: Spanish Prelude:Agitato
- Sleepless Night: Melody No. 17, “”Sleepless Night” (arr. K. Swift for piano)