Lang Lang – New York Rhapsody (2016) [Qobuz FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Lang Lang – New York Rhapsody (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz  | Time – 01:20:30 minutes | 824 MB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz | Booklet, Front Cover | © Sony Classical
Recorded: Abbey Road, Studio One, London; Henson Studios, Los Angeles; Jungle City Studios, New York; The Village, Los Angeles; 80 Hertz Studios, Manchester; Sound Emporium, Nashville; Minutia Studios, Nashville; Q Division Studios, Boston; MSR Studios, New York; Strange Cargo, Los Angeles

As it has wowed musicians for over a century, the magic of New York City fired the imagination of superstar pianist Lang Lang who is joined by a one-of-a-kind cast of collaborating artists for the creation of his new album, New York Rhapsody. From the haunting reveries of Gershwin and Copland to the in-the-moment intensity of songs made famous by Alicia Keys, Lou Reed and Don Henley, New York Rhapsody rediscovers the dazzle and the soul of America’s most symbolic city as great artists have imagined them.
Lang Lang with Grammy Award®-winning producer Larry Klein have assembled an album that embraces the musical spirit of New York in ways both surprising and traditional. The centerpiece of New York Rhapsody is inevitably Rhapsody in Blue that features Lang Lang and jazz legend Herbie Hancock in a two-piano recreation of Gershwin’s most popular work with the London Symphony Orchestra. Surrounding it are creative collaborations with Lang Lang anchoring each track that reimagine songs reflecting the varying moods and experiences New York offers. Other guest artists include Andra Day, Jason Isbell, Jeffrey Wright, Lindsey Stirling, Madeleine Peyroux, Kandace Springs, Sean Jones, Jerry Douglas and Lisa Fischer.

This Sony Classical release presents superstar pianist Lang Lang in a new role: that of pop accompanist. The album consists of a set of songs about New York (thankfully, “New York, New York” is omitted), featuring not only likely pop suspects like Madeleine Peyroux, but such novelties as alt-country songwriter Jason Isbell in a creditable reading of New York Morning. Perhaps the most unlikely item is Lou Reed’s Dirty Blvd., mashed with Somewhere (from West Side Story) and sung by Jeffrey Wright and Lisa Fischer, respectively. It may all make you ask exactly why this needed to be done, and the answer would be that the whole thing is suited to the kind of high-ticket concert evening where money is made in classical music these days. The producer is none other than Larry Klein, ex-husband to Joni Mitchell, and he and arranger Vince Mendoza craft textures that weave everything together reasonably well. Better still is the main attraction, which makes this worth the price of admission: the Gershwin two-piano version of Rhapsody in Blue here actually manages to add something to the voluminous recorded literature of that work. The second piano is played by Herbie Hancock, 76 years old when the album appeared in 2016 and still in fine form. He adds some jazz to his part, in a way that Gershwin would have enjoyed (it’s not too far from what Gershwin does in his own Songbook version), and in this selection the two players do come alive in the interplay. If the stars here attract you, by all means proceed, and aficionados of Rhapsody in Blue will find something fresh here. -AllMusic Review by James Manheim

1 Story of Our Town (From “Our Town”) 04:21
2 New York Morning 05:43
3 Empire State Of Mind 05:23
4 Rhapsody in Blue 21:22
5 New York Minute 06:41
6 Somewhere (Dirty Blvd.) 08:52
7 Main Theme (From “Spider-Man”) 04:09
8 Tonight (From “West Side Story”) 04:52
9 Moon River (From “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) 05:34
10 In Evening Air 03:07
11 Somewhere (Dirty Blvd.) 10:28

Lang Lang, piano
featuring guest artists:
Andra Day
Herbie Hancock
Jason Isbell
Jeffrey Wright
Jerry Douglas
Kandace Springs
Lindsey Stirling
Lisa Fischer
Madeleine Peyroux
Sean Jones