Album: Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Gershwin: Porgy & Bess, (RCA Red Seal)

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The Independent Culture

Gershwin's celebrated "folk opera" has, through copious truncation, come to be regarded more as a musical than an opera – an attitude which Nikolaus Harnoncourt is at pains to redress in this vast 3CD presentation done with a vibrantly expressive cast led by Jonathan Lemalu and Isabelle Kabatu in the title roles. It's an exuberant experience, with all the emblematic arias handled perfectly, while Harnoncourt's exacting attention to detail comes through in countless small but telling ways, such as the use of authentic African drums (as per Gershwin's intentions) rather than bongos in the "Symphony of Noise" opening dawnscape of the final scene.

Download this: Summertime; It Ain't Necessarily So; 'Bess, You Is My Woman Now; Symphony of Noise