Thursday, March 18, 2010

New PianoSoft - George Gershwin & Henry Mancini Classics

This week's two new PianoSoft downloads feature two legends of music in film - the amazing George Gershwin and Henry Mancini. Though their relationships to film were very different, both Mancini and Gershwin had a special knack for putting the cinematic drama into their work, and both of these new albums reflect both their lyricism and the wide scope of their musical visions.

Sue Downs - My Favorite Gershwin

The title "My Favorite Gershwin" is very fitting for this album of Sue Downs' arrangements of Gershwin for solo piano. Downs' personal touch is evident in the track selection, which includes some lesser known George Gershwin tunes like "Bidin' My Time" as well as classics like "Summertime", but also shines through in the performances. While it's hard to improve on Gershwin (take a listen to "Gershwin Plays Gershwin" for Gershwin's own renditions of some of his songs), Downs interprets these songs in a special way that brings out the jazzy fun of "Fascinating Rhythm" as well as the romanticism of "Love Walked In".

Magnificent Mancini

Though his career included turns as an orchestral conductor and an easy listening artist, Henry Mancini was best known as a masterful composer of film scores and TV theme songs. Fittingly, all of the songs from "Magnificent Mancini" originally appeared on either television or on film. But Mancini's compositions always stood out from the screen, and many of them, such as "Moon River" and "The Pink Panther Theme" have become unmistakable standards in their own right. On this PianoSoft album, pianist Bryan Pezzone stays faithful to the most famous versions of classics like "The Baby Elephant Walk" and "Peter Gunn", while expertly adapting them for solo piano.

- Doug