Friday, September 14, 2018
Rhapsody 21 (1962)--Paul Whiteman, w. Sondra Bianca, Pianist
Buster and I were wondering who Suzanne Auber is (she's still with us at the age of 87!), and I got Google-lucky and found out that "Suzanne Auber" was one of a number of budget-label pseudonyms for the superb concert pianist Sondra Bianca. Here she is, playing for Paul Whiteman and credited by the World's Fair Records label under her actual name.
The "Suzanne Auber" pseudonym, by the way, appeared on last post's selection, Music of South Pacific and Oklahoma.
Critics complain about George Gershwin's allegedly poor sense of form (on long works), and I'll concede he was no Grofe in that regard, but he kept things moving. Those critics might reconsider their complaint after hearing this poor man's Warsaw Concerto called Rhapsody 21, an adventure in repetition in which each permutation of the main theme is so obviously the main theme, what would Chopin say? Some of Chopin's extraordinary Etudes are the same phrase over and over until the final measure, but so brilliantly developed, there aren't words to describe how brilliantly. Rhapsody 21 is the same chunk of music repeated either literally or almost literally, with connecting passages that might have worked as silent movie organ stings. Okay, I'm being mean, because this lightweight piece is actually very entertaining and skillfully scored. And Sonia is terrific. Just don't expect anything remotely close to Rhapsody in Blue, and you're all set.
I edited both sides together--the cut-off beginning of side 2 was not my doing!
Click here to hear: Rhapsody 21
Rhapsody 21 (Toni Mineo, Orch. by Attillo Mineo)
Sonia Bianca, Pianist, w. Paul Whiteman (World's Fair Records STV 82083/4; 1962)