Ventura Music Festival – Ventura CA

MC26- Gershwin Preludes Special Edition

From Executive Director Susan Scott

Dear Friends,

Five+ months ago – when the Virus and Music Connects series were both young(er) – we presented Gershwin’s jazzy Prelude One as MC4, performed by VMF Artistic Director Nuvi Mehta on violin and his San Diego Symphony colleague Bryan Verhoye on piano.

Nuvi and Bryan subsequently recorded Gershwin’s second and third preludes for inclusion in the August launch of VMF’s new Virtually yours series – this one a feature on Gershwin: the man, the times & the music. When Zoom-time did not permit, the idea for this special MC26 was born: all three glorious Gershwin Preludes in one MC edition!

As I wrote in my May note, Gershwin originally planned to write a cycle of twenty-five piano preludes. He completed six and published only three, which became very famous indeed and have been a staple of the American piano repertoire ever since. In 1942, the great violinist Jascha Heifetz transcribed the Preludes for violin and piano, with one commenter observing “the music shines with the violin’s new sonorities.”

As to the importance of the Preludes, the year is 1926, and in blending classical with jazz (or vice versa) Gershwin effectively earns the title “first crossover artist” and helps to usher in the Jazz Age. He does this with three very short pieces, each less than two minutes. Critics say they demonstrate (Gershwin’s) genius for piano writing and a variety of styles,” as follows:

Prelude I exudes energetic syncopation
Prelude II is a lyric blues with an ostinato-like accompaniment
Prelude III closes this set brilliantly with rugged rhythms and exciting

YES to the syncopations, and you will like the ostinato-like accompaniments.  But the BIG DON’T MISS is Prelude III and Bryan’s shirt!