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International Release of RPO's Gershwin Recording with Jon Nakamatsu Available May 8

April 26, 2007

“Unquestionably the best Gershwin disc to come along in years” says pre-release review


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Read full-length online reviews from Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Minnesota Public Radio (includes audio version using Real Player), Dallas News, Audiophile Audition and Classicstoday.com.

Rochester, NY – For those lucky enough to have attended (or for those who missed) last July’s sold-out Gershwin Celebration concert with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Principal Pops Conductor Jeff Tyzik and Van Cliburn award-winning pianist Jon Nakamatsu, the chance to own a permanent record of that thrilling program is just around the corner.  On May 8, the much-anticipated harmonia mundi usa George Gershwin recording – featuring the 1925 Piano Concerto in F, the well-known Rhapsody in Blue and the rarely-heard “Rhumba” from the Cuban Overture – will be available world-wide online and in stores in a special SACD (Super Audio CD) hi-resolution format.  Locally, the RPO will be selling the CD for $20 (tax included) at the box office, online at www.rpo.org, at the Orchestra’s upcoming May 10 and 12 Philharmonics concerts and at various RPO summer concert locations.

The disc – recorded over three days immediately following last summer’s concert – already has received outstanding reviews by Audiophile Audition (five stars out of five) and the web magazine Classicstoday.com (10 out of 10 for both Artistic Quality and Sound Quality).  John Sunier at Audiophile Audition was brimming with accolades for Rhapsody in Blue: “[It] sounds fresher and more cheeky than I've heard from most recordings,” followed by the reviewer’s admission that “frankly, I was going to skip through the Rhapsody due to overexposure, but just a short ways into it I was captured for the duration.”  He also wrote that “[both Nakamatsu and Tyzik] seem like a perfect duo to bring out the jazzy, enthusiastic tone of all this music of Gershwin,” and that “harmonia mundi’s transparent hi-res surround captures the concert hall impression of this excellent orchestra.  Most highly recommended.” 

David Hurwitz’s review for Classicstoday.com is equally enthusiastic: “Pianist Jon Nakamatsu and pops conductor Jeff Tyzik team up for what unquestionably is the best Gershwin disc to come along in years.”  He calls Rhapsody in Blue “a splendid performance,” and the Piano Concerto “even better,” comparing Nakamatsu to the legendary pianist Earl Wild.  The Cuban Overture is, according to this review, “the best performance of that chestnut to come along in many a moon as well,” with Tyzik offering “an object lesson in how this music should be conducted.”  Not to be outdone, the RPO also gets its share of acclaim: “plays very well throughout, with fine solos from the principal trumpet ([Douglas Prosser] in the concerto) and clarinet ([Kenneth Grant] in the Rhapsody).”  Hurwitz applauds harmonia mundi for its complementary engineering, clarity and balance, and closes the review with a promise to readers: “You'll love this disc!”

Jon Nakamatsu is no stranger to Rochester audiences and RPO fans.  The pianist’s first recording with the RPO and Music Director Christopher Seaman in works by Rachmaninoff received wide critical acclaim.  A frequent concerto soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and solo recitalist throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, Nakamatsu enjoys a continuously expanding career based on illuminating musicality as well as a quietly charismatic performing style.  Rhapsody in Blue holds a special place for Nakamatsu, who performed it at the White House during the 1998-99 season hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton.

Ninety-thousand dollars in financial support for this recording was generously donated by Honorary Board Member Alfred L. Davis in celebration of his 90th birthday in March 2006.  In recognition of Davis’ generous gift, Dr. Jacques and Dawn Lipson made a smaller gift toward the recording expenses.

This marks the RPO’s third recording on the harmonia mundi usa label; previous discs include Music Director Christopher Seaman conducting Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.1 with pianist Olga Kern and Francesca da Rimini (2003); and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3 with Nakamatsu and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini (2001). 

An RPO summer gala celebrating the CD will take place on July 7 at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center.   Rhapsody in Rochester will feature a concert with the RPO, Nakamatsu and vocalist Robin McKelle, as well as dinner and dancing.  The event is a benefit for the RPO’s education and community outreach programs.  For more information, call the box office at 585-454-2100 or visit www.rpo.org.

Now in its 84th season, the RPO inspires and enriches the community through the art of music.  The Orchestra is passionately dedicated to outstanding musical performance at the highest artistic levels, and has a unique tradition of musical versatility, commitment to music education in the broadest sense and a deep and enduring engagement with the community.  The RPO has been honored with the New York State Governor’s Arts Award, and two ASCAP awards for adventurous programming in recent years.

Note: A digital image of the Gershwin CD cover is available, as are photos of Jon Nakamatsu and Jeff Tyzik.


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