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Manhattan Intermezzo - Neil Sedaka: Manhattan Intermezzo (2008); Keith Emerson: Piano Concerto No. 1 (1976); Duke Ellington: New World a-Comin' (1943); Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Jeffrey Biegel, piano

Album Summary

>Gershwin, George : Rhapsody in Blue
>Sedaka, Neil : Manhattan Intermezzo, for piano & orchestra
>Ellington, Duke : New World A-comin'
>Emerson, Keith : Concerto for Piano no 1
Performers Conductor Ensembles Composers

Notes & Reviews:

This program 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. Keither 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.

American Record Guide, May/June 2016
Prog-rocker Keith Emerson's Piano Concerto finally gets a second recording, several decades after it came out on Emerson, Lake & Palmer's first Works album. The playing and sound here are a big improvement. Biegel phrases much more musically and he sounds more in his element with an orchestra. I is exuberant. The third part has Gershwin's rhythm. The orchestration is better than in the Emerson. Duke Ellington wrote New World a-Comin' in 1943 for piano and 15-piece band and played it in Carnegie Hall that year. Ellington's melodies have more personality. The Gershwin is Alicia Zizzo's restored version from 1996.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Sayles Hall at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Isla (10/12/2014); Sayles Hall at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Isla (10/18/2014); Sayles Hall at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Isla (10/18/2014/10/19/2014); Sayles Hall at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Isla (11/20/2014).

Here's a collection of four classical pieces for piano and orchestra linked to New York City, written by composers from the pop world, ranging from the extremely familiar (Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue") to the almost completely unknown (the title work, by none other than Neil Sedaka). First off comes the Gershwin, which is worth the price of admission by itself: it gets a distinctive performance from pianist Jeffrey Biegel, with plenty of jazz accents, and it is presented in an edition by scholar Alicia Zizzo that probably represents Gershwin's own intentions. The Sedaka work may be what you'd expect from the composer of "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do"; its melodies are straightforward. "New World a-Comin'" is among the less often programmed of Duke Ellington's orchestral pieces, but from the vigorous performance heard here it's hard to see why it should have been neglected. The "Piano Concerto No. 1" of Keith Emerson, of the progressive rock group Emerson, Lake & Palmer, may be the nicest surprise of the four works. Those who listened to FM rock radio in the 1970s may well be able to identify the composer, but it incorporates many other influences besides that of ELP (there are even a few 12-tone passages), and it weaves them all together in an attractive score that is arguably the most sophisticated of any of the four works on the album. Worthy of special notice is the work of the Brown University Symphony Orchestra under Paul Phillips, one of the fine university ensembles that give the lie to perceptions that classical music is undersupported in the United States. Recommended. ~ James Manheim



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Works Details

>Gershwin, George : Rhapsody in Blue
  • Performers: Jeffrey Biegel (Piano); Benjamin Wesner (Clarinet)
  • Conductor: Paul Phillips
  • Ensemble: Brown University Orchestra
  • Running Time: 17 min. 37 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1924

>Sedaka, Neil : Manhattan Intermezzo, for piano & orchestra
  • Performer: Jeffrey Biegel (Piano)
  • Conductor: Paul Phillips
  • Running Time: 18 min. 6 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Written: 2008

>Ellington, Duke : New World A-comin'
  • Performers: Jeffrey Biegel (Piano); Benjamin Wesner (Clarinet)
  • Conductor: Paul Phillips
  • Running Time: 13 min. 32 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern

>Emerson, Keith : Concerto for Piano no 1
  • Performer: Jeffrey Biegel (Piano)
  • Conductor: Paul Phillips
  • Notes: Sayles Hall at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, New York (10/18/2014/10/19/2014)
  • Running Time: 19 min. 7 sec.
  • Period Time: Contemporary
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1976