Friday, September 28, 2007

New York In Sound

Frank Braley plays Gershwin
Frank Braley, piano
Harmonia Mundi HMC 901833, 2005

Like with the music of Scott Joplin, I never feel Gershwin comes off better than on a solo piano. And this recording persuades us from the first, jagged notes of Jasbo Brown's Blues from Porgy and Bess. The young French pianist Frank Braley was unknown to me when I stumbled upon this recording, yet another reminder that fabulously talented people are everywhere. He apparently studied at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique in Paris, where so many of the luminaries of the Paris organ school I love came from, and has a handful of recordings out now on the Harmonia Mundi label. Gershwin had a love of French music (and Ravel was apparently impressed with Gershwin) so there is a French connection that makes this pianist an appropriate choice.

This CD features familiar works--Rhapsody in Blue in Gershwin's solo piano version, The Man I love, Fascinatin' Rhythm, Liza--along with some other works with which I was unfamiliar, like the opening track. There's something just inescapably New York, 1920 about these sounds that's absolutely intoxicating, so many snapshot movie images and black and white photos of Times Square at night and Manhattan in the rain that come unbidden as this CD plays; it gets a special place on the shelf for when I need a pick-me-up.

Enthusiastically recommended!

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