Album: Benjamin Grosvenor, Rhapsody in Blue (Decca)


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The Independent Culture

On his second Decca set, piano wunderkind Benjamin Grosvenor programmes Gershwin alongside roughly contemporary pieces by Ravel and Saint-Saëns, but it's the connection between Rhapsody in Blue and Ravel's Piano Concerto in G major that gives the album its point.

The latter's playful, jazzy manner is clearly beholden to Gershwin, particularly in the clarinet and woodwind opening, but Grosvenor and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic achieve a fine balance between its urban bustle and more reflective passages. The version of Rhapsody in Blue is taken from the earliest orchestral transcription, for Paul Whiteman's band in 1924, and is thus less cluttered and more demotic in style, with more of a swing than in some stiffer, stuffier versions.