Sunday Gramophone - Legendary Belgian Conductor Andre Cluytens conducts the Paris Conservatory Orchestra in a 1947 recording for French Columbia of George Gershwin's American In Paris.
February 13, 2011

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Andre Cluytens - taking a whack at Gershwin.


Something just about everybody knows by heart, only this time performed by a French orchestra based in the town it was written about - legendary Belgian conductor Andre Cluytens in this 78 rpm recording done for French Columbia in 1947 of George Gershwin's venerable warhorse An American In Paris.

Checking my files, I haven't seen this particular recording reissued anywhere in anything other than it's original 78 rpm form, but I could always be wrong. It's interesting to listen to another interpretation, another take on a point of view, especially with a piece of music so familiar and probably so overplayed.

In this 1947 recording it seems fresh and not performed out of boredom. This is the Paris Conservatory probably exactly the way Gershwin heard it in his day. The style of playing is all but extinct, particularly where the horns are concerned. A bit like the all but vanished use of portamento in string playing. However, it's been making a subtle comeback of late (if you listen really closely).

At any rate, it's a familiar piece of music that may sound just a bit different than usual.

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