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Maazel: Gershwin – Porgy and Bess (3 CD box set, FLAC)

Maazel: Gershwin - Porgy and Bess (3 CD box set, FLAC)
Maazel: Gershwin – Porgy and Bess (3 CD box set, FLAC)

Composer: George Gershwin
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 3 CD box set
Format: FLAC (image+cue)
Label: Decca
Size: 841 MB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: yes

Porgy – Willard White
Bess – Leona Mitchell
Crown – McHenry Boatwright
Serena – Florence Quivar
Clara – Barbara Hendricks
Maria – Barbara Conrad
Jake – Arthur Thompson
Sporting Life – Francois Clemmons

The Cleveland Orchestra & Chorus
Lorin Maazel – conductor

CD 01
Act One
01. Scene One: Introd/Jasbo Brown Blues
02. Scene One: Summertime/Oh, nobody knows when the Laws is goin’ to call…
03. Scene One: A woman is a sometime thing (Lissen to yo’ daddy warn you)
04. Scene One: Here come de honey man
05. Scene One: They pass by singin’/Here comes Big Boy!/Don’t you ever let a woman grieve you
06. Scene One: Oh, little stars/Touch that money an’ meet yo’ Gawd!
07. Scene One: Wake up an’ hit it out/That you, Sportin’ Life?

08. Scene Two: Gone, gone, gone (Where is brudder Robins?)
09. Scene Two: Overflow, overflow/Gawd got plenty of money for de saucer
10. Scene Two: Um! A saucer-burial setup, I see
11. Scene Two: My man’s gone now/How de saucer stan’ now, my sister?
12. Scene Two: Headin’ for the Promis’ Lan’ (Oh, the train is at the station)

CD 02
Act Two
01. Scene One: It takes a long pull to get there (Oh, I’m agoin’ out to the Blackfish banks)
02. Scene One: Oh, I got plenty o’ nuttin’/Lissen there, what I tells you
03. Scene One: I hates yo’ struttin style/Mornin’, Lawyer, lookin’ for somebody?…
04. Scene One: Buzzard Song (Look out, dat’s a buzzard!)/Lo, Bess, goin’ to picnic?
05. Scene One: Bess, you is my woman now
06. Scene One: Oh, I can’t sit down

07. Scene Two: I ain’t got no shame
08. Scene Two: It ain’t necessarily so/Shame on all you sinners/Bess!…Crown!…
09. Scene Two: Oh…What you want wid Bess?

10. Scene Three: Honey, dat’s all de breakfast I got time for/Take yo’ han’s off me, I say
11. Scene Three: Oh, doctor Jesus
12. Scene Three: Oh dey’s so fresh an’ fine/I’m talkin’ about devil crabs
13. Scene Three: Porgy, Porgy, dat you there
14. Scene Three: I loves you, Porgy
15. Scene Three: Why you been out on that wharf

CD 03
01. Scene Four: Oh, Doctor Jesus
02. Scene Four: Oh, de Lawd shake de Heavens/One of dese mornings you goin’ to rise up singin’
03. Scene Four: Oh, dere’s somebody knockin’ at de do’/You is a nice parcel of Christians…
04. Scene Four: A red-headed woman/Jake’s boat in de river/Oh, Doctor Jesus

Act Three
05. Scene One: Clara, Clara, don’t you be downhearted/Crown, Crown, don’t you…/Summertime
06. Scene One: Interlude (Death of Crown)

07. Scene Two: Intro/Wait for us at the corner, Al/What is your name?
08. Scene Two: You’ve got to go, Porgy/Oh, Gawd! They goin’ make him look
09. Scene Two: There’s a boat dat’s leavin

10. Scene Three: Intro
11. Scene Three: Good mornin’, sistuh!/Thank Gawd I’s home again!
12. Scene Three: Dem white folks sure ain’t put nuthin’
13. Scene Three: Oh, Bess, oh where’s my Bess
14. Scene Three: Bess is gone
15. Scene Three: Oh Lawd, I’m on my way

Lackluster Porgy

This CD was the first to present all 3 hours of music that Gershwin wrote for “Porgy and Bess”, and it claims that this is how Gershwin intended it to be performed. However, this is not the truth.

Gershwin always worked on his music in rehearsals to make it better, and Porgy and Bess was not different. He made many cuts, changes and additions to his score before the final 1935 version his Broadway, whittling down the music to jsut 2 hours and 20 minutes. What resulted was a much tighter story, dramatically.

It is definitely interesting to hear all 3 hours (best not taken all at one time). However, Maazel is not likely to be remembered as a great Gershwin conductor.

The other main drawback is the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus–they are totally out of place on this recording, singing as if they were singing a Bach Cantata. They do not capture the jazz style, or the singing style that is required.

America’s Greatest Opera In Its Best Recording Ever

For Americans, the Gershwins’ 1935 opera “Porgy And Bess” is our “Carmen” and “The Marriage Of Figaro”–our biggest contribution to the world of opera. It was where classical music met jazz and the musical format to produce a masterpiece; and it is amazing, if not necessarily surprising, that the racial element of the work made it such an iffy proposition for a lot of opera companies (the Met in New York didn’t even stage the thing until 1985, and it was only after the Houston Opera staged it in 1976 that it even came to be seen as a legitimate opera). Now, of course, it is performed all over the world, including at prestigious mid-European places like the Deutsche Opera in Berlin, and the Vienna State Opera.

For the first forty years of its existence, however, most people had not heard the entire opera for real, because of the cuts that the Gershwins had made to make it more voluble in performances. Fortunately, this 1976 recording of the complete opera, which here is put on a 3-CD set of just slightly over three hours in length, vaulted “Porgy And Bess” to the ranks of the great operas of all time, with a cast to kill for, including Willard White as Porgy, and Leona Mitchell as Bess, and future classical music superstars like Barbara Hendricks and Florence Quivar in support. The recording won the Grammy in 1976 for Best Opera Recording, and rightfully so.

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