Hello all, Masanobu Ikemiya's manager, Del Rosenfield, just sent
me the Japanese BMG (formerly RCA-Victor here) CD of his all-Gershwin
recording, which includes his pre-Grofe recreation of Rhapsody in Blue
which Lois and I experienced live in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine a few years
Masanobu used the Primo Roll of Rhapsody in Blue which I had cut in
44 copies only (since I didn't own the torn original one-of-a-kind
Aeolian Hall demonstration roll), and tapes of the acoustic Victor
Record featuring Gershwin and Paul Whiteman, plus his own effervescent
imagination, and came up with an arrangement for piano and jazz band
which captures the spirit of the original audio recording.
He adds some technique of his own, such as a terrific crescendo and
accelerando build-up for that machine effect in the latter portion of
Part II, and the interplay between the instruments is nothing short of
fantastic, considering how many 'Hollywood Bowl' interpretations we've
all heard over the past decades.
Of course, I would have used analogue on one of my Tandberg 15 ips open-
reel decks for the Master Tape for the recording session. Because of
a digital source the concert grand piano is a tad metallic, and the
percussion is more pronounced than the live version we heard at the
Foxcroft Academy (and are still talking about, years later!).
Masanobu played a 5'7" Style "M" Steinway grand for that live
(analogue) performance, and were I to compare that evening with this
imported CD, I'd bet that the balance and the presence of the
pianoforte was superior with 5'7" in analogue vs. 9' in digital.
Outside of this very, very minor carping on my part, the recording is
_definitive_ for the performance of the Rhapsody, and is something
to be compared with the Blue Label Victor 78, in my opinion. And,
Masanobu adds many details and playful tricks of his own, in the
performance, both as the featured pianist as well as the conductor of
his New York Ragtime Orchestra.
Unfortunately, I can't comment on the album notes, an illustrated book
which is included with the imported recording. (Can't read Japanese!)
If you are interested in obtaining a copy of this sparkling non-Grofe
reading of the Rhapsody, get in touch with
714 Ladd Road
Riverdale, NY 10471
FAX (718) 548-4313
Masanobu also plays other Gershwin numbers such as Three Preludes,
The Man I Love, Promenade, Rialto Ripples, Lullaby (used for "Vi's
Theme" in Blue Monday, available on my Artcraft rolls!) and other
related material -- with E. T. Paull's Burning Of Rome (quoted in
my roll of The Chicago March!) as the finale.
Many of the musicians in his New York Ragtime Orchestra are the same
talented people who have appeared on his Arcady Music Festival circuit
here in Maine.
Goodness -- this E-Mail turned into a commercial!
I just had to share the good news about this sparkling Gershwin
recording, especially several years of Disklavier performances on
CD/tape which have been distorting (and destroying) the essence of the
composer's distinctive musical style. Masanobu's imported CD is the
perfect antidote to 'muddy' Gershwin!
Regards from Maine,