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Culture Forum

Culture Forum

  1. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    28 May '15 17:07
    I was always impressed with Levant as a kid, watched his tv show but was too young to have seen him in movies but he was one of the most talented of the virtuosi on piano and composition of the 20th century. He was best friends with George Gershwin and became the Gershwin spokesman almost, playing his music a LOT! He also composed hundreds of movie scores, classical pieces of his own and played all the big houses, Carnegie and so forth. Here he is in 1945 playing George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, one of the best versions ever:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YiI5WmiIVrY

    No video, just audio but it sounds pretty good considering is is 70 years old now.
  2. 08 Jun '15 11:44 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    I was always impressed with Levant as a kid, watched his tv show but was too young to have seen him in movies but he was one of the most talented of the virtuosi on piano and composition of the 20th century. He was best friends with George Gershwin and became the Gershwin spokesman almost, playing his music a LOT! He also composed hundreds of movie scores, ...[text shortened]... iI5WmiIVrY

    No video, just audio but it sounds pretty good considering is is 70 years old now.
    One of my all-time favourite pieces — he plays it with real brio, not a wrong note to be heard. It's a true virtuoso performance. (Was there a point at about 12.00 where he opted for a sort of simple 'dong dong dong' instead of the music as composed? It hardly detracts from the effect of the piece, though.)

    I'm not familiar with Oscar Levant but he was cleary a true great of the piano. The recording quality is astoundingly good for 1945 — with most old recordings I own you need to fight the audio quality a little (or a lot) to really enjoy the music. Not with this one. I have heard so many great recordings of Rhapsody in Blue but this is hands-down one of the best; maybe top three.
  3. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    08 Jun '15 20:36 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by NoEarthlyReason
    One of my all-time favourite pieces — he plays it with real brio, not a wrong note to be heard. It's a true virtuoso performance. (Was there a point at about 12.00 where he opted for a sort of simple 'dong dong dong' instead of the music as composed? It hardly detracts from the effect of the piece, though.)

    I'm not familiar with Oscar Levant but ...[text shortened]... ny great recordings of Rhapsody in Blue but this is hands-down one of the best; maybe top three.
    This version is pretty much the one I listen to, who else plays it? I was enthralled by Levant as a kid, when I was 15 or so, watched his TV show whenever I could. He also has been in several movies like American in Paris and Humoresque, about a dozen I think, besides his TV show in the '50's. He was also a very gifted composer like this: Piano Concerto composed around 1939 and played here in 1942:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgTkDJmDJ74

    There is a lot more Levant stuff in the sidebars.
  4. 08 Jun '15 21:58
    Originally posted by sonhouse
    This version is pretty much the one I listen to, who else plays it? I was enthralled by Levant as a kid, when I was 15 or so, watched his TV show whenever I could. He also has been in several movies like American in Paris and Humoresque, about a dozen I think, besides his TV show in the '50's. He was also a very gifted composer like this: Piano Concerto com ...[text shortened]... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgTkDJmDJ74

    There is a lot more Levant stuff in the sidebars.
    One of the two better recordings (IMO) was, I think, played by Bernstein himself. The other escapes me, but I guess a lot of top concert pianists can play the piece. Haven't listened to that concerto yet—will try to soon. I really have to get practising if I'm ever to reach such a level!
  5. Subscriber nimzophysh
    Ranger
    04 Jul '15 22:11
    Levant on the Jack Paar Show: "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin."
  6. Standard member sonhouse
    Fast and Curious
    07 Jul '15 18:26
    Originally posted by nimzophysh
    Levant on the Jack Paar Show: "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin."
    He was brilliant, no doubt about that.

    On I think, the Jack Parr show, asked why he moved to California from NY, he said, well, you see, I am a surfer, and the waves there are unmatched.....