Press: Rhapsody In Blue - Westside Story                                

12/06/2011

Buffalo News

George Gershwin "Rhapsody in Blue" and Leonard Bernstein selections from "West Side Story" performed by duo pianists Katia and Marielle Labeque with guest percussion (KML Recordings). With the big touring production of "West Side Story" ending in Shea's Performing Arts Center today, this wildly unusual and brilliantly played two-piano version of Leonard Bernstein's most popular music seems to take on even greater impact. The Labeques can almost always be counted on to be far more "show-bizzy" and less decorous than other classical two-piano duos, but even so Irwin Kostal's two-piano arrangement of Bernstein's gorgeous and familiar music is an antic one. Bernstein himself gave the score to Kostal to concoct something for the Labeques, and Kostal can't resist sometimes adding three percussionists. Their playing of the original 15-minute, two-piano score of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" is among their best on record. In 1955, Bernstein noted altogether brilliantly of the "Rhapsody in Blue" that "you can cut parts of it without affecting the whole. You can remove any of these stuck-together sections and the piece still goes on as bravely as before. It can be a five-minute piece or a 12-minute piece. And, in fact, all these things are being done to it every day. And it's still the 'Rhapsody in Blue.' "A great disc. Four stars. (J. S.)