Concert Review: JAZZ, LOVE AND GERSHWIN: A CENTURY OF RHAPSODY IN BLUE (The New York Pops at Carnegie Hall)

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by Paulanne Simmons on February 12, 2024

in Concerts / Events,Music,Theater-New York


The centerpiece of The New York PopsJazz, Love, and Gershwin: A Century of Rhapsody in Blue was quite obviously Gershwin’s iconic orchestral piece. And at the top of the evening, Musical Director Steven Reineke told the audience it would be “a thrilling performance, I promise you.” If anything, that was an understatement.

But Reineke also promised many of George and his brother Ira’s songs, brilliantly interpreted by guest artist Montego Glover (who recently played The Witch in Into the Woods on Broadway) with arrangements by the famed Nelson Riddle. The music kicked off fittingly with “Strike Up the Band” and went on to other favorites such as “’S Wonderful,” which Reineke reminded the audience anticipated much of today’s slang; and most appropriate for the upcoming Valentine’s Day, “The Man I Love,” which insists “Still I’m sure to meet him one day.”

With Lee Musiker at the piano, Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture,” combining Cuban rhythms and Gershwin’s original, thematically advanced material, ended the first half of the concert with great zest and a taste of what the Rhapsody might sound like. But the real thing came after intermission. The only word to describe pianist Lee Musiker’s performance is breathtaking. As the story goes, Gershwin had not completed the piano solos for the piece by the time of its first performance at Aeolian Hall on Feb. 12, 1924. So he improvised. And ever since pianists have been adding their own interpretations to the solo parts. Musiker’s were extraordinarily intricate and original.

Taking the stage after that performance would not be for the faint-hearted. But Glover not only managed this with grace and talent, she also delivered a version of “Summertime” that was both jazzy and operatic, and had us roaring with approval.

For the evening’s encore Reineke chose Gershwin’s last song, “Our Love Is Here to Stay.” And as long as people continue to love it and play it, so is Gershwin’s music.

photos by Richard Termine

Jazz, Love, and Gershwin: A Century of Rhapsody in Blue
The New York Pops
Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Ave.
reviewed on February 9, 2024
2 hours with intermission
Steven ReinekeMusic Director and Conductor
Montego GloverGuest Artist
Lee MusikerPiano

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