I bought the CD of Gershwin's Duo-Art and Welte rolls put onto disk and
played on a 9' Yamaha Disklavier piano. I was disappointed that it was
not the Duo-Art itself, but I guess it was someone's great idea to put it
on disk because they thought they were preserving history. (On a
In the jacket to this CD it tells all the piano roll dates, makers, and
numbers, including Rhapsody In Blue, part one, played in January 1927,
Duo-Art 70947 issued 1927, and it's odd but, part two was played May of
1925, Duo-Art 68787, issued 1925.
Gershwin has a quote too, "I stood outside a penny arcade listening to an
automatic piano leaping through Rubinstein's Melody in F. The peculiar
jumps in the music held me rooted. To this very day I can't hear the
tune without picturing myself outside the arcade on 125th Street,
standing there barefoot and in overalls, drinking it all in avidly."
Anyway, the CD is *great*! It's called "Gershwin Plays Gershwin, the
piano rolls". The CD has only of that piano playing, and no singing or
other instruments. It has Rhapsody In Blue, and An American In Paris. A
[ Editors note:
[ There are many, many records which attempt to capture the Duo-Art
[ reproduction, and they are as variable as the reproducing pianos used.
[ The CD you have is Elektra Nonesuch 79287-2. In a certain sense, a
[ Duo-Art reproducing system was created from computers and the Yamaha
[ Disklavier, in order to realize more control over the system than is
[ possible with a pneumatic system. I don't think the CD is trying to
[ preserve history; rather, it's an alternative presentation of his
[ music. I enjoy the CD too.
[ In the recent thread about Duo-Art Concert Grands the "authenticity"
[ of the Duo-Art rolls was questioned: did Gershwin himself *really*
[ sit before the recording piano, or was the roll created by a "ghost-
[ pianist?" I believe it was a ghost. The wonderful cadenza which
[ concludes Part One is note-for-note from the published manuscript;
[ no performer of Gershwin's caliber would play the manuscript notes,
[ therefore it must have been a staff artist, probably Frank Milne
[ and/or Robert Armbruster. Douglas Henderson has some correspondence
[ which suggests this.
[ Gershwin's piano-playing style was totally different. I can think of
[ no recording pianist in 1924 who could have duplicated his performing
[ flair; the records by Roy Bargy (with the Whiteman Orchestra) are
[ pale by comparison. I guess Aeolian simply couldn't drag Gershwin
[ to the recording studio, and he told them to use his name on the
[ rolls created by a staff editor.
[ Which in no way detracts from the music -- I think they are all fine
[ performances, irrespective of the actual artist.
[ Robbie Rhodes