February 18, 2005 9:10 AM   Subscribe

What's your favorite recording of Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess"? The whole opera, not just excerpts or selections.

I would be more than happy to just shop around, but none of the stores around here seem to have more than one edition (if that), so I'm primarily shopping on the Internet, where you usually can't give it a really good listen. As for what my personal standards are, I usually prefer a "jazzy", "soulful" rendition to one that's technically perfect.
posted by rkent to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
If we were talking instrumental, I'd have to go with Miles Davis & Gil Evans, Porgy & Bess (1959).

However, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald recorded Porgy & Bess in 1957, and while it might not be the entire book of the show, it is incredibly good.

Of course, neither of these might suit your needs, though both are certainly "jazzy" and "soulful."
posted by grabbingsand at 10:26 AM on February 18, 2005

Miles Davis for me, but then I haven't heard many other versions!
posted by kenchie at 11:21 AM on February 18, 2005

I have also heard only excerpts from Porgy&Bess, but took out my copy of Fred Plotkin's Opera 101, where he recommends the best recordings of each opera. He is for the most part spot-on with his suggestions, but I've run into a few aberrations that made me question his reliability.

Anyway, for Porgy&Bess, he recommends the RCA recording with Albert, Lane, and Marshall, and the Houston Grand Opera Orchestra, but i've never heard it, so i don't know the validity of this suggestion.

I've personally heard excerpts from the EMI recording with White, Haymon, and Evans and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and think it's rather good, but i have no idea how it compares to the RCA recording. Evans is very animated, and has a really rich tenor. It's a really fun recording, very energetic, and certainly "soulful".

btw, it's my understanding that there are only 3 or 4 studio recordings of this opera, so chances are you'll find one you like quickly, as opposed to picking say Carmen, where there are dozens with many big names to choose between.

This page on tower records includes three of the recordings, and also offers samples of each aria & act, so you can listen to gauge your liking.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:58 PM on February 18, 2005

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