The Gershwin Moment
Kirill Gerstein (piano), Storm Large (vocals), Gary Burton (vibraphone), St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, David Robertson (conductor)
The performances on the CD are culled from four consecutive concerts performed in St. Louis during April 2017. Apparently what Gerstein played was different every time as his intention was to strike a delicate balance between classical music and jazz! However the recording engineers have combined these takes to produce one of the most exciting Gershwin discs that I have heard.
The CD begins with the jazz band version of Rhapsody in Blue and one is immediately aware that we are going to be in for a great performance with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra cearly in full sympathy with Gerstein’s improvisatory approach in this work as well as in the Piano Concerto in F major. I cannot ever remember being quite so moved by the finale to the concerto – all music lovers should hear this. Besides the two major works we are treated to a couple of Earl Wild’s transcriptions, a good rendition of Summertime (from Porgy & Bess) sung by Storm Large and a charming, if simple, piece by Oscar Levant, Blame it om my Youth, in which Gerstein is accompanied by the vibraphonist Gary Burton.
Kirill Gerstein gained a jazz scholarship at Boston’s Berklee College of Music at the age of fourteen¹ and the benefits of that are readily apparent in these spontaneous performances. Throughout these varying pieces Gerstein creates an incredible rapport with the hugely appreciative audience who were very fortunate to witness these occasions live. This resultant CD must rank alongside the all-time greats in the recorded Gershwin repertoire. Certainly one not to be missed!
¹ Kirill Gerstein was the youngest student ever to attend the college.