John Mauceri - Gershwin: Porgy & Bess [Original 1935 Production Version]

John Mauceri - Gershwin: Porgy & Bess [Original 1935 Production Version]
Genre: Classical
Duration: 02:24:38
Artist: John Mauceri
Album: Gershwin: Porgy & Bess [Original 1935 Production Version]
Release Date: September 4, 2006
Styles: Opera

This two-disc Porgy and Bess records not an entirely new version of the Gershwin opera, but a claimed improvement on the "complete" version that surfaced in the 1970s and changed the opera from a series of set pieces to a living work of drama. Using notations made on the original orchestral parts, conductor John Mauceri and a team of researchers have reconstructed Porgy and Bess as it was heard on the occasion of its New York premiere in 1935. The work as Gershwin originally wrote it, and as it had been performed in Boston previews, ran for nearly three and a half hours, and Gershwin made 45 minutes of cuts during the New York rehearsals. Thus, the producers argue, this was what might be called the "composer's cut" of the opera -- Gershwin's best intention for how it should sound. One motivation for the cuts, however, was to let suburban patrons make the last trains north out of Manhattan, which departed at midnight. It's a shame to lose the "Buzzard Song," which fills out Porgy's knowing pessimism and paves the way for the opera's denouement.Numerous small details were also changed; "Summertime" is a bit faster than it is usually taken; the introductory music of Act One is a bit slower; more crowd noise and interjections were added. Gershwin also made two substantial additions: separate music for an orphans' band that plays during the island picnic, and a symphony of morning noises Gershwin calls an "occupational humoresque." It's great to hear these for the first time; they add to the Charleston atmosphere, and they further strengthen the impression of Porgy and Bess as a deep attempt on Gershwin's part to reproduce a wide swath of African-American musical culture, not a set of Broadway tunes warmed over with a few spirituals. Future productions of Porgy and Bess will have to take this recording into account, and it may well be that some of them will land between the version of the work presented here and the "complete" version mounted by the Houston Grand Opera and other groups.Version issues aside, the opera is wonderfully sung by some of the genre's top African-American artists. Especially impressive are the three male leads: Alvy Powell as a profound Porgy who moves seamlessly from involvement in the Catfish Row neighborhood group to solitude; Robert Mack as a very contemporary Sporting Life, who seems to come up to the edge of hip-hop attitude (and to convince you that Gershwin would have loved contemporary African-American music); and Lester Lynch as a Crown who seems more desperate man than thug. In spite of the recording's aims of historical authenticity, the singers have modernized the work in an important and desirable way -- they have very subtly shaved the rough edges off DuBose Heyward's dated black dialect and made the language sound less archaic. (After all, for Gershwin's audiences it was not meant to sound that way.) Mauceri and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra keep the magnificent recitative ensembles moving along. They find many small ways of making the opera "flow," some of them no doubt due to Gershwin's last-minute changes as incorporated into this new version. The bottom line is that people who like Porgy and Bess should hear this very fine recording, regardless of whether they accept the changes the producers have made to the established conceptions of the work

Porgy and Bess, opera
Act 1. Scene 1. IntroductionJohn Mauceri1:44 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. SummertimeJohn Mauceri2:09 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Seems like these bones don't give me nothin' but boxcars tonightJohn Mauceri3:15 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. SummertimeJohn Mauceri0:52 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. What, that chile ain't asleep yet?... A woman is a sometime thing (Lissen to yo' daJohn Mauceri2:24 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Honey man! Honey man! Here come de honey manJohn Mauceri3:11 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. They pass by singin' (No, no, brudder, Porgy ain't sof on no woman)John Mauceri1:46 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Here comes Big Boy!John Mauceri3:47 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Crown cock-eyed drunk... Oh, little starsJohn Mauceri2:42 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Oh, stop them! Don't let them fight!John Mauceri1:08 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 1. Wake up an' hit it out. You ain't got no time to loseJohn Mauceri4:18 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 2. Gone, gone, gone (Where is brudder Robbins?)... OverflowJohn Mauceri6:36 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 2. Um! A saucer-buryin' setup, I seeJohn Mauceri3:01 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 2. My man's gone nowJohn Mauceri4:13 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 2. How de saucer stan' now, my sister?John Mauceri1:58 Amazon
Act 1. Scene 2. Leavin' for the Promise' Lan' (Oh, the train is at the station)John Mauceri2:54 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. It take a long pull to get there (Oh, I'm a-goin' out to the Blackfish banks)John Mauceri3:17 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. Oh, I got plenty o' nuttin'John Mauceri2:37 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. Mornin' lawyer, lookin' for somebody?John Mauceri4:49 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. Dey's a Buckra comin'John Mauceri1:57 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. 'Lo, Bess, goin' to de picnic?John Mauceri3:33 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. Bess, you is my woman nowJohn Mauceri5:22 Amazon
Act 2. Scene 1. Oh, I can't sit downJohn Mauceri4:36 Amazon

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