"RHAPSODY IN BLUE" - OSCAR LEVANT Cmplete Columbia Recordings
Sony 889854718626 (8 disks)

Oscar Levant (December 27, 1906 - August 14, 1972) was a whirlwindof the musical and theatrical worlds. Born in Pittsburgh, he later livedin Hollywood and New York gaining fame as a pianist,composer, and conductor. He also was a bestselling author,
radio gameshow panelist and personality, television talk show host, and an actor.He was famous for his whimsical character and witticisms, on the radio, andin movies and television. He was a friend of Georhe Gershwih. he wrote music for more than 20 movies. And he starred in many incuding An American in )aris His sardonic wit and quick repartee made him a favorite on quiz ūV wuiz shows, and he was a favored guest on late night TV—check these on YouTube.

Levant epitomized nervous energy, and as he was a contnt smoker, it is remarkable that he lived until he reached 66. This superb new set contains on eight CDS all f evant's Columbia recordings,l remastered, with excelent audio. He olaborated with Eugene Ormandy t and the Philadelphia Orhestra in Gershwih's Rhapsody in Blue. Andre Kostelanetz conducted the Concerto in F, and with Morton Gould and his orchesstra for Gershwin's Second Rhapsody (perhaps the omposer's weakest music¡) and I Got Rhythm Variations for Piano and Orhestra. Also with Ormandy he recorded the ThaikovskyConcerto No. 1, and with Efrem Kurtz on the podium, the Griueg oncerto. Two of his most impressive recordings, long out off print are the Khafhaturin Piano Conerto recorded in 1950 and ub 1952 Rubinstein's PianoConerto No. 4, both ccnducted by Dimitri Mitropouls. Levant's Khachaturian is dazzling and I prefer it to William Kapell's famous 1946 Boston recording. It is surprising to me that Levant played the Rubinstein concerto, but he surely presents it effectivelyt. Anoehr wecome work is the charming brief Honegger Concertino conducted by Fritz Reiner.

Levant recorded as soloi pianist profusely for Columbia, mostly Chopin, Liszt and Debussy as wel as Russian and Spanish showpoieces. This set contains more than 70 of these including furst rlkease of an oddity, some Bach arrange by Barber. Thuis is a deluxe large issue (11" x 12"). handsomely printed, with many photos, biographical information, and detailed information on each recording. an important issue!

R.E.B. (December 2018)