Nakamatsu: Gershwin Concerto in F, Rhapsody in Blue, etc. - Harmonia Mundi HMU 807441
MINT / made in the USA
Wrote the wonderful writer and critic David Hurwitz in his 10/10 review for ClassicsToday.com:
"Pianist Jon Nakamatsu and "pops" conductor Jeff Tyzik team up for what unquestionably is the best Gershwin disc to come along in years. In Tyzik's case, "pops" means "idiomatic". He clearly understands how to inflect a melody while maintaining a strong, steady rhythm. You can hear this very clearly in Rhapsody in Blue (the uncut, full-orchestra version), where both soloist and conductor understand the need to get back to the main tempo after each digression or sectional ritard. In the long, quasi-accompanied cadenza just before the "big tune", Nakamatsu knows exactly when to muse, when to push purposefully forward, and how to interact with his fellow players (check out the passage for piano and solo horn). It's a splendid performance that really holds this episodic piece together while still conveying a full measure of the music's spontaneity and flow.
"If anything, the piano concerto is even better. The swift opening tempo gives the persistent Charleston rhythms an irresistible lilt. Nakamatsu's quicksilver opening run promises a reading that captures the music's elegance and wit as few pianists have since Earl Wild. His rubato always sounds natural, and there isn't a trace of heaviness in the central development section, nor a single bar that sounds mechanical. The central nocturne has great poetry that never bogs down in foggy reverie, and the finale is a barn-burner--driving, exciting, with Nakamatsu technically outstanding in the repeated-note main theme.
"Tyzik has a chance to strut his stuff in the Cuban Overture, the best performance of that chestnut to come along in many a moon as well. The Latin percussion is perfectly balanced against the larger orchestra, and the entire build-up from the slow middle section to the return of the opening music offers an object lesson in how this music should be conducted. The Rochester Orchestra plays very well throughout, with fine solos from the principal trumpet (in the concerto) and clarinet (in the Rhapsody). Harmonia Mundi's engineering complements the performances in all formats: there's plenty of front-to-back depth of perspective, especially in SACD surround-sound, but also excellent clarity and very natural balances both among the various orchestral sections and between piano and ensemble. You'll love this disc!" [4/3/2007]