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Gershwiniana (Overture of Songs by George Gershwin)
arranged and orchestrated by Rob Mathes
Arranger/composer Rob Mathes is a nationally renowned music director and a multi-faceted performer. Mathes' songs have been recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Aaron Neville, Vanessa Williams, Jon Secada, Wynonna Judd, Michael Crawford, Randy Travis, Alabama, Oleta Adams, Suzi Boguss, and Kathy Mattea. He has written music for cellist Yo-Yo Ma and he has been the arranger and guitarist on the last six Pavarotti and Friends concerts, held each year in Modena. Mathes provided the following note about his Gershwiniana arrangement, which is dedicated to Leonard Slatkin and the Los Angeles Philharmonic:
"When Leonard Slatkin asked me to arrange a suite of Gershwin songs, I was thrilled and yet... filled with a bit of trepidation. I have heard many Gershwin arrangements and the best ones somehow fully channel Gershwin and stay within the inspiration inherent in his material. This is not easy. Gershwin wrote in the era of Irving Berlin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern. His songs are not better than the best of those writers but his musical style is absolutely inimitable. He was a great pianist and his use of jazz is, unlike other masters such as Stravinsky and Copland, completely credible and instinctive. His constant rolling and shifting inner harmonies are all his and totally unique. Academics often thumb their noses at his orchestration yet, it is generally agreed that Rhapsody in Blue and Porgy and Bess are masterpieces of a very high order. I love the story of Stephen Sondheim welling up with tears while looking at the Porgy sketches at the Library of Congress. The material in this overture comes from his classic individual songs (from the stage and screen). Among them are 'Love Is Here to Stay' and 'Strike Up the Band.' They are all now absolute classics and in 300 years these songs will still be sung. As I write this, the piece is not yet finished but my plan is to let the orchestra sing in essence four or five Gershwin songs and as interludes and interstitial material, I will use fragments of other Gershwin melodies. I would like the whole piece to be filled with the Gershwin genetic code, so to speak."