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Brian Wigman
Classical Net, November 2014

This is a marvelous disc, one that explores the full range of George Gershwin’s considerable gifts.

…the Rhapsody really lives up to its name. Never hurried, the work is given ample room to breathe and blossom. Falletta and the Buffalo forces really capture the spirit of the work, and Weiss is a tremendous soloist, giving the solo line a sense of purpose and care that I suspect will surprise many listeners. The whole disc has spectacular sound and everyone gives 100 percent. © 2014 Classical Net Read complete review

John Sunier
Australian Hi-Fi, January 2014

The latest in Naxos’s series of audio-only Blu-rays provides the second successful hi-res surround album of Gershwin from Falletta and her Buffalo musicians. The first featured his Concerto in F with the same pianists. It’s good in both cases to have not only the hi-res surround reproduction but the piano solidly situated in the centre-channel…It’s also wonderful to have this hi-res and sparkling musical performance of Gershwin’s very own concert suite he put together from five important scenes in his Porgy and Bess. It has been recorded before but never with such liveliness and quality sonic as this one. Gershwin’s Promenade, which has been heard in several different transcriptions, is here adapted for clarinet and orchestra, and works beautifully in that form. First rate for sound and performance. © 2014 Australian Hi-Fi

Dave Saemann
Fanfare, November 2013

On the present CD, JoAnn Falletta lives and breathes “the Gershwin melos.” Perhaps the most significant performance here is her collaboration with Orion Weiss in Rhapsody in Blue. Together, Weiss and Falletta mine a vein of soulfulness and grandeur in the Rhapsody, offering phrasing that is completely rhapsodic. There is some lovely playing by the Buffalo first chairs, and the sound of the orchestra en masse is warm and beguiling.

Catfish Row, Gershwin’s own suite from Porgy and Bess, receives a reading from Falletta that is tender and sympathetic. The overwhelming impression of this performance, indeed of the whole album, is of how much Falletta loves this music. No Catfish Row in my experience is more idiomatic and expressive.

Don Rose has made a lush arrangement for full orchestra of the overture to Strike Up the Band that Falletta conducts with a lot of heart. The “I’ve Got a Crush on You” section comes across as beautifully fey. Veteran producer Tim Handley has provided beautiful sound engineering throughout the CD, with an especially good bass response. JoAnn Falletta truly is a gift to American music. In her hands, Gershwin’s stature as a great composer is unchallengeable. © 2013 Fanfare Read complete review

James Harrington
American Record Guide, November 2013

On this second Gershwin disc from Falletta, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and Orion Weiss is a very personal performance of Rhapsody in Blue that completes the works for piano and orchestra. I would describe [Weiss’s] performance here as lovingly sensitive and very detailed…

The current release adds a fascinating and varied group of other Gershwin music. Every piece here is arranged for orchestra by others. One of the most enjoyable tracks is the well-known ‘Promenade’ from Shall We Dance arranged for clarinet and orchestra (with some nice piano solos) by Sol Berkowitz. It is these orchestral pieces that will bring me back to this disc. © 2013 American Record Guide Read complete review on American Record Guide

Phil Muse
Audio Video Club of Atlanta, September 2013

JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic once again display that well-honed jazz sensibility and bold rhythmic freedom that I noted earlier in my review of their Duke Ellington program “Black, Brown. And Beige”…

Catfish Row is the title of Gershwin’s suite from his opera Porgy and Bess, with its great mixture of folk and classical idioms and a superb admixture of blues. Unlike a lot of suites from operas, this one really lets us sample the actual story with its range of conflicts and emotions.

From the glissando wail of John Fullam’s clarinet on a rising 17-note diatonic scale at the very opening, we know we are in for a treat in Rhapsody in Blue, George Gershwin’s unique combination of earthy jazz and blues sophistication. From rhythmically intense to slow, broadly stated, and controlled, this work demands the utmost from pianist, conductor, and orchestra. And it gets it. Weiss, Falletta, and the Buffalo Philharmonic are old hands at this sort of thing…They do not disappoint us here! © 2013 Audio Video Club of Atlanta Read complete review

Anthony Burton
BBC Music Magazine, September 2013

The orchestral contribution is lively and idiomatic, with jazzy clarinet and trumpet. The solo playing is clean and clear, but I would also describe it as thoughtful and careful. © BBC Music Magazine

David Hurwitz, August 2013

There’s something comforting about this defiantly relaxed, gracious, unashamedly big-band Gershwin disc. This performance of Rhapsody in Blue is positively luscious, taking its time and luxuriating in the great tunes and full sonorities of the large orchestra. But it’s also fluid, with pianist Orion Weiss applying rubato sensitively, in a way that sounds truly jazzy…

The rest of this program really helps to separate this disc from the rest of the Gershwin pack. Catfish Row…is still too rarely heard, and JoAnn Falletta’s performance is excellent. The overture to Strike Up the Band, another comparative rarity…has plenty of energy, while the brief Promenade simply exudes charm with John Fullam the excellent solo clarinetist. Gershwin’s music has to sound sexy, and here it really does. How refreshing! © 2013 Read complete review, July 2013

…Falletta is a strong advocate of American music and is particularly adept at conducting it, and this Gershwin disc is another in her continuing skillful explorations of works by American composers. Falletta leads this suite and all the music here with a sure hand and genuine enthusiasm, the quality of her musicianship and the playing of the orchestra continuing at the same very high level displayed in their many other American-music recordings that deserve to be called noteworthy. © 2013 Read complete review

WQXR (New York), June 2013

The Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by the tireless Joann Falletta, present the second volume of a series of Gershwin recordings, this with pianist Orion Weiss taking on the solo part in the ultimate orchestral party piece: Rhapsody in Blue. The collection also includes some of Gershwin’s shorter razzle-dazzle, and the Catfish Row from Porgy and Bess. This fine orchestra, which recently appeared at the Spring for Music festival at Carnegie Hall is in fine form here. © WQXR (New York)

Jeff Simon
The Buffalo News, June 2013

The second volume of Falletta and the BPO’s series of Gershwin records finds young pianist Orion Weiss doing a bang-up job on what is probably the greatest Philharmonic Orchestra pops concert piece ever written in America…It’s an idiomatic recording of arrangements of music so much in the American bloodstream that it makes you laugh when your pulse rides along with it. The BPO’s soloists in the gorgeous solo parts are splendid. © 2013 The Buffalo News Read complete review

Blair Sanderson, June 2013

Weiss, who has established himself as a concerto soloist of prodigious skill, shines in the Rhapsody in Blue, by far the most celebrated selection here and obviously the selling point of the CD, considering the brilliance of this young artist and his vigorous performance. Fullam’s turn in Promenade is a small, jaunty solo, but the piece is a charmer with its tripping melody and it serves as a good-natured interlude for the program. The orchestra delivers the overture to the musical Strike Up the Band with more than a little of the excitement of Broadway, but its real showpiece is Catfish Row: Suite from Porgy and Bess, which presents highlights of the opera in a condensed but effective form. © Read complete review

David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2013

[Rhapsody in Blue] is included in the second of JoAnn Falletta’s Gershwin CD releases, in a version that I would describe as a ‘classical’ view from the pianist, Orion Weiss. The work did start out as a jazz-inspired piece for piano and Paul Whiteman’s band, but was soon transferred to the concert hall in an orchestration by the composer, Ferde Grofe. Since then many have tinkered with the score, while the piano roll of Gershwin playing the piano part has been used for a recording with an added orchestral accompaniment. It shows the composer taking a helter-skelter mad ride through his score, the orchestra trying to keep in touch. Falleta uses just sufficient of its jazz influences to show its origins, while Weiss enjoys the showmanship of the piano part. There are many extrovert recordings, but Weiss is one for ongoing enjoyment. The other extended work is Catfish Row, Steven Bowen’s suite taken from the opera, Porgy and Bess, the performance spotlighting the many solo passages, and perfectly captures the nature of the opera. The disc opens with a swaggering view of the overture to the musical, Strike Up the Band, and as a pleasing diversion we have the ‘walking the dog’ scene from the film, Shall we Dance, now known as Promenade, but here cast as a piece for clarinet solo and orchestra. I love Falletta’s approach to Gershwin, and the Buffalo orchestra’s long term relationship with the composer shows in the playing. Stunning sound, and most strongly recommended. © David’s Review Corner

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