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The four remarkable works on this new release all share a connection with New York City. Those by Neil Sedaka and Keith Emerson have been recorded only once before with their composers at the keyboard, while this is only the second recording of Duke Ellington’s New World a-Comin’ in its arrangement by Maurice Peress. Pianist Jeffrey Biegel’s reinterpretation of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue brings striking new perspectives to a familiar masterpiece.

“[pianist Jeffrey Biegel] has captured the beauty of nature and desolation…with a sense of optimism in the final triumphant movement. This is a fantastic recording!”

Keith Emerson, composer

“[this is a ] wonderful recording of Manhattan Intermezzo…a real feather in my cap!”

Neil Sedaka, composer

“Neil sent Manhattan Intermezzo to me in 2012; I fell in love with the music and asked him if I could be its advocate.”

Jeffrey Biegel, pianist

  Piano and Orchestra Works - SEDAKA, N. / EMERSON, K. / ELLINGTON, D. (Manhattan Intermezzo)
Biegel, Brown University Orchestra, P. Phillips

This programme brings together four works for piano and orchestra by composers best known from the fields of jazz, popular song and progressive rock. Neil Sedaka’s Manhattan Intermezzo explores the New York of today and yesterday with its melting pot of nationalities. Keith Emerson is best known as a founding member of Emerson Lake & Palmer. His remarkably inventive semi-autobiographical Piano Concerto No. 1 fuses his classical training with jazz. Duke Ellington’s sublime New World a-Comin’ is a visualisation of improved conditions for black people in America, while the rarely heard original version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue represents the quintessential style of New York City in the Roaring Twenties.

Listen to an extract from
Neil Sedaka's Manhattan Intermezzo

About the Artists

Pianist Jeffrey Biegel is a noted recording artist, chamber music collaborator, champion of new piano music, composer, arranger and educator. In 2010 he performed the world premère of William Bolcom’s Prometheus for piano, orchestra and chorus (8.559788), with Carl St.Clair leading the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale, followed by performances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin. In addition, he gave the world première of Richard Danielpour’s Mirror, again with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra under Carl St.Clair.

Paul Phillips, Director of Orchestras and Chamber Music at Brown University, and Music Director of the Pioneer Valley Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, is an award-winning conductor and composer whose honours include First Prize in the NOS International Conductors Course (Holland) and Wiener Meisterkurse (Vienna), and eleven ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. His recordings for Naxos include Music for Great Films of the Silent Era, Volumes One and Two (8.572567 and 8.573105), with the RTÉ National Symphony (Ireland).

Led by music director Paul Phillips since 1989, the Brown University Orchestra’s membership consists of about a hundred student musicians from Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. One of America’s finest collegiate orchestras, the BUO has given concerts in Carnegie Hall and Avery Fisher Hall, toured China and Ireland, and performed a wide repertoire that has earned the orchestra seven ASCAP Awards for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music.

Other recordings featuring the artists

The 4 Seasons /
Mandolin Concerto, RV 425 / Lute Concerto, RV 93
(arr. for piano)


“Biegel’s performances are right on the money and quite transcend the oddity factor, offering a fresh and original take on these much-loved scores. The recording (produced and engineered by Joseph Patrych) is out of the top drawer. A disc, dare I say it, that put a spring in my step.”

William BOLCOM
Canciones de Lorca / Prometheus

R. Barbera, Biegel, Pacific Chorale and Symphony, St. Clair

  Listen to an extract from
William Bolcom's Prometheus

Ellen Taaffe ZWILICH
Millennium Fantasy / Images / Peanuts Gallery

Biegel, Gainsford, H.L. Williams, Florida State University Symphony, Jimenez

“The performances here sound uniformly excellent. The sonics are also excellent: bright, clean, and well-balanced. A splendid disc, then, in all respects, and a mandatory acquisition if you’re interested in good contemporary music.”

William PERRY
Music for Great Films
of the Silent Era, Vol. 1

Ireland RTÉ National Symphony, P. Phillips

“The RTÉ Orchestra and Paul Phillips play these colourful and melodic works with great enthusiasm and panache and mention must be made of Robert Nowak’s brilliant orchestrations. A glorious, joyous, tuneful celebration of the days of Silent Cinema.”
MusicWeb International

William PERRY
Music for Great Films
of the Silent Era, Vol. 2

Ireland RTÉ National Symphony, P. Phillips

“…the real treat is the Concerto for Ophicleide. Australian ophicleide virtuoso Nick Byrne is not only the soloist, but also the inspiration for the present piece … this disc is guaranteed to bring oodles of joy.”

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Naxos Records, a member of the Naxos Music Group