August 15, 2018
Pianist Kirill Gerstein Explores the Music and Influence of George Gershwin in Recording Featuring "Rhapsody in Blue" and Concerto in F with St. Louis Symphony

Album features additional works by George Gershwin, Oscar Levant, and Earl Wild, as well as guest artists Storm Large (vocals) and Gary Burton (vibraphone)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK — Pianist Kirill Gerstein’s album The Gershwin Moment explores the unique musical persona and cultural legacy of George Gershwin (1898-1937) at a time when the composer’s synthesis of various styles is ever more culturally relevant and his music more widely appreciated in the nation’s concert halls. The album features Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F recorded live with the St. Louis Symphony under David Robertson, as well as “Summertime” with Pink Martini vocalist Storm Large, Oscar Levant’s “Blame It On My Youth” with legendary jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, and selections from Earl Wild’s Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin. Recorded for myrios classics, the album is available as a physical CD or digitally via retailers including Apple Music / iTunes and Amazon.

In focusing on Gershwin, Mr. Gerstein spotlights a musician who, like himself, came out of both the classical and jazz traditions. Gershwin decided to become a composer after hearing Dvoƙák’s G-flat Humoresque and then went on to write numerous well-known jazz standards and jazz-influenced concert works. Mr. Gerstein taught himself to play jazz at an early age by listening to his parents’ extensive record collection, and after jazz piano studies at the Berklee College of Music, has gone on to build a career as a classical pianist, though jazz remains an important influence on his artistry. In an interview with The Economist, he said:

“[Classical and jazz] are part of one music world, but from different districts, rather than belonging to two separate worlds. This has been my feeling since I grew up; that the two are far closer together than they are usually positioned. I think classical music has much more freedom than is implied and jazz is more structured, rigid and disciplined than is implied.”

Mr. Gerstein performs the 1924 jazz-band version of Rhapsody in Blue orchestrated by Ferde Grofé for the Paul Whiteman Band, as well as the Concerto in F, which Gershwin himself performed with the St. Louis Symphony in 1936. Mr. Gerstein adds his own embellishments to these works, including a cadenza in the concerto, and describes his approach to Gershwin in the recording’s liner notes:

“My intention is to strike a delicate balance—not too classical, not too jazzy. The jazzing up of Gershwin can easily be overdone. I think there is a fine proportion that’s implicit. As for the pieces themselves, I think they’re more masterly than is often perceived. … The more time you invest in rehearsal and refinement, the more impressive these masterpieces appear.”

In “Summertime,” Mr. Gerstein reunites with vocalist Storm Large, who he met and joined in concert at the 2012 Gilmore Festival. Additional Gershwin standards on the recording are performed by Mr. Gerstein in their solo piano versions by pianist-composer Earl Wild, published as Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin. The album features “Somebody Loves Me,” “I Got Rhythm,” and "“Embraceable You.”

Kirill Gerstein plays “I Got Rhythm,” from Earl Wild’s Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin

Another guest artist on this recording is jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton, who was an important mentor to Mr. Gerstein. They met each other in St. Petersburg when Mr. Gerstein was 14 years old, and it was Mr. Burton—a former student and then-faculty member at the Berklee College of Music—who invited Mr. Gerstein to study jazz piano on scholarship at the school. They perform together in “Blame It On My Youth” by pianist, composer, and actor Oscar Levant, who was one of Gershwin’s close friends and collaborators. Levant also portrayed Gershwin the 1945 film Rhapsody in Blue.

The recording includes a program note by cultural historian Joseph Horowitz, who has authored a monograph on Porgy and Bess, and also features album art commissioned from illustrator, photographer, and writer Michael Roberts, who was the first Fashion Director of The New Yorker and the creator of many of the magazine’s iconic covers.

 

Kirill Gerstein is one of today’s most intriguing and versatile musicians, with a masterful technique, discerning intelligence, and a musical curiosity that has led him to explore repertoire spanning centuries and a diverse range of styles. He is the recipient of the 2010 Gilmore Artist Award and received First Prize at the 2001 Arthur Rubinstein Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. A highlight of his 2018-19 U.S. season is the world premiere of a piano concerto written for him by Thomas Adès and performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra under the composer’s baton. Following this Symphony Hall program, they perform the New York premiere of the work at Carnegie Hall. Mr. Gerstein and Mr. Adès also perform as a piano duo at the New England Conservatory and Zankel Hall. Additional engagements include the Czech Philharmonic’s U.S. tour, in which he performs the new urtext edition of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 that he has championed in concert and on record, as well as performances with the Cleveland and Philadelphia Orchestras and Atlanta, Cincinnati, Detroit, St. Louis, and Toronto Symphonies, among others.

Born in Voronezh, Russia, Mr. Gerstein attended a music school for gifted children studying the classical repertoire and quickly became interested in jazz, which started him on a path that led to his eventual studies for three years at the Berklee College of Music. He subsequently moved to New York to attend the Manhattan School of Music. An American citizen since 2003, Mr. Gerstein now divides his time between the United States and Germany. For more information, visit kirillgerstein.com.

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KIRILL GERSTEIN
THE GERSHWIN MOMENT: RHAPSODY IN BLUE AND CONCERTO IN F
MYRIOS CLASSICS — MYR022

Kirill Gerstein, piano

St. Louis Symphony Orchestra
David Robertson, conductor

Storm Large, vocals
Gary Burton, vibraphone

GEORGE GERSHWIN
1. Rhapsody in Blue (1924 jazz-band version; orch. Ferde Grofé)** — 17:34

EARL WILD
from Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin
2. “Somebody Loves Me” — 3:32
3. “I Got Rhythm” — 2:23

OSCAR LEVANT
4. “Blame It On My Youth” (featuring Gary Burton, vibraphone) — 7:18

GEORGE GERSHWIN
5. “Summertime” (featuring Storm Large, vocals) — 5:35

Piano Concerto in F**
6. I. Allegro — 13:31
7. II. Adagio —12:39
8. III. Allegro agitato — 7:22

EARL WILD
from Virtuoso Etudes after Gershwin
9. “Embraceable You” — 3:35

Total Timing: 73:45

**Works with orchestra

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For press copies, please contact:

Shuman Associates
(212) 315-1300 | shumanpr@shumanassociates.net

 

 
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