Thibaudet performs “jazz band” orchestrations of Rhapsody in Blue, Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’, and Concerto in F live with the Baltimore Symphony and music director Marin Alsop
Immortalized in recent decades by many great American artists from Leonard Bernstein to Woody Allen, the works of George Gershwin receive a fresh and equally captivating treatment in the forthcoming album entitled "Gershwin" by pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet. Acclaimed by the The New York Times for his “joy, brilliance and musicality,” Thibaudet will release this unique collection on April 27, 2010, lending an addicting elegance and intense thoughtfulness in the “jazz band” orchestrations of some of the most beloved and recognizable American music of the last century.
Both Concerto in F (arr. Ferde Grofé, 1928, for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra) and Rhapsody in Blue (arr. Ferde Grofé, 1924, for the Paul Whiteman Orchestra) are presented on this live recording in their “jazz band” orchestrations, as opposed to the more familiar versions performed by traditional orchestras. Gershwin’s own orchestration of Variations on ‘I Got Rhythm’ completes the disc. Thibaudet performs the pieces under the energizing baton of Marin Alsop, herself a well-known exponent of Gershwin, with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. “People ask if the piece is jazz, classical or both,” says Thibaudet of Rhapsody in Blue, “but the underlying jazz element really belongs to this great work, and this Grofé orchestration gives the Gershwin piece the flavor that it should have.”
For Gershwin himself, Rhapsody in Blue served as a testament to the richness and diversity of the United States, with the composer describing the piece as “a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our blues, our metropolitan madness.” A piano standard since its completion, the piece was first performed in 1924 at a concert of “experimental music” hosted by big band leader Paul Whiteman, in a form that has since been overshadowed by orchestral versions. In a treat for Gershwin fans, Thibaudet, on the new album, plays the piece as it was first heard 86 years ago in the Grofé version.
An exclusive recording artist for Decca, Jean-Yves Thibaudet has released more than 40 albums, garnering a collection of awards as abundant as his discography. The winner of the Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or, a Gramophone Award and two Echo awards -- as well as an array of other prizes -- Thibaudet is one of the world’s most in-demand pianists, sought by today’s foremost orchestras, festivals, conductors and collaborative musicians. Gershwin follows his Grammy-nominated 2007 recording, Saint-Saëns, Piano Concerti Nos. 2&5. Like Gershwin, Thibaudet crafted his reputation in the world of classical music, but also has become a celebrated figure through his contributions to film. The soloist on the Oscar- and Golden Globe-winning soundtrack of Universal Pictures’ Atonement, Thibaudet also provided music for another Oscar nominee, Pride and Prejudice.
Born in Lyon, France, Thibaudet began his piano studies at age five and made his first public appearance at age seven. A student at the Paris Conservatory by 12, the young musician won the Premier Prix du Conservatoire at 15, and, three years later, the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York. The prizes have continued streaming in during the last decade, with Thibaudet accepting the prestigious Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government, the Premio Pegasus from the Spoleto Festival in Italy, and the Victoire d’Honneur, a lifetime career achievement award and the highest honor given by France’s Victoires de la Musique.
In May, Thibaudet embarks on a U.S. tour with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and its new Music Director Gustavo Dudamel, bringing Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety to San Francisco, Nashville, Washington, New York and Newark (NJ).