Radio-Sinfonie-Orchester Frankfurt / HR Big Band / Broadway Orchestra: Happy Birthday George Gershwin
As one can see, this gala concert honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer George Gershwin showcases not one but three orchestras including the HR Big Band, which takes care of the Jazzier aspects of the program. The R–S–O Frankfurt opens with half a dozen well–known Gershwin songs featuring soprano Mary Anne Kruger and baritone Alan Cemore on vocals before the HR ensemble makes its entrance with a medley of tunes from the folk opera Porgy and Bess. That one’s instrumental all the way, and quite well played too. The band then backs singer Paul Kuhn on his swinging treatments of “’S Wonderful” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” and Sylvia Droste on “Do It Again” and “Lady Be Good,” both arranged by Jörg Keller. The Broadway Orchestra (which I suspect may be an amalgam of the R–S–O and HR bands) then takes the stage for a second Gershwin medley before wrapping things up with “It Ain’t Necessarily So” (arranged by Peter Herbolzheimer), “Our Love Is Here to Stay” and “The Man I Love.” Of the four vocalists, Droste seems most comfortable singing Gershwin; her English is better, as is her feeling for Gershwin’s syncopated rhythms (she even scats dependably on “Lady Be Good”). Kruger and Cemore, who clearly are classically–trained, give one an idea of how these songs must have sounded when first introduced on the Great White Way (in those long–ago days even Broadway stars sang like that). Droste returns as vocalist with the Broadway Orchestra for the handsome finale, “The Man I Love.” This isn’t all Jazz, but it’s all Gershwin, nearly 74 minutes worth, and far beyond merely worthwhile. Put another way, this is one concert–going audience that got its money’s worth and more.
Track listing: Our Love Is Here to Stay; Someone to Watch Over Me; Love Walked In; By Strauss; Embraceable You; I Got Rhythm; Porgy and Bess medley; ’S Wonderful; Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off; Do It Again; Lady Be Good; Gershwin medley; It Ain’t Necessarily So; Our Love Is Here to Stay; The Man I Love (73:57).
Record Label: hrMedia
Style: Big Band