The idea to make this recording took Enrico Fagnoni back to his childhood, and his first musical experiences of the US. He left Italy with scores of Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Rachmaninov, but found himself listening to the best jazz and ragtime musicians. He was astonished by the rhythm of their music, the acoustics of the clubs and the spontaneity of their jam sessions. He offers this new recording of the Songbook as a tribute to Gershwin’s genius.
Gershwin (1898-1937) compiled the Songbook in the early 1930s at the invitation of his publisher, selecting his favourite 18 among the hundreds of songs he had composed up to that point and producing piano-only transcriptions which bear the mark of his pianistic heritage and education in both classical and popular spheres, from Rachmaninov to Zac Confrey. Jazz, ragtime and klezmer all inflect these songs with their own unique harmonies, but ever since their composition they have transcended national and cultural boundaries to win the hearts of anyone who appreciates a melody, whether jaunty or melancholy or erotic.
While playing these pieces, Enrico Fagnoni conceived the wish to make his own arrangements of the songs in the Songbook. These are placed on this new album after the ‘straight’ Songbook, as a unique complement. Fagnoni’s take is often quite different in character, and ventures far from the composer’s original transcriptions, while staying faithful to his superb melodies.
This album marks Enrico Fagnoni’s debut on Piano Classics, but he has been a much-sought-after pianist in Italy for many years, performing both in concert and on TV, winning the admiration of Nino Rota and playing the full spectrum of pianistic repertoire from classics to jazz and beyond.
- George Gershwin (born Jacob Bruskin Gershowitz, of Jewish-Ukraine origin) was an American composer and pianist whose compositions span both popular and classical genres, fusing the two in a unique and unprecedented way.
- Gershwin studied piano under Charles Hambitzer and composition with Rubin Goldmark, Henry Cowell, and Joseph Brody. He began his career as a song plugger but soon started composing Broadway theater works with his brother Ira Gershwin. He moved to Paris intending to study with Nadia Boulanger, but she refused him. He subsequently composed An American in Paris, returned to New York City and wrote Porgy and Bess with Ira and DuBose Heyward, becoming one of the most important American operas of the twentieth century and an American cultural classic. He moved to Hollywood and composed numerous film scores. His compositions have been adapted for use in film and television, with several becoming jazz standards recorded and covered in many variations.
- In his “Songbook for Piano” Gershwin presented piano solo arrangements of 18 of his most famous songs, including The Man I Love, Fascinating Rhythm, Swanee, Do It Again and I Got Rhythm.
- In this new recording Italian pianist Enrico Fagnoni plays the complete Songbook for piano by Gershwin, as well as his own arrangement of the same 18 songs, maintaining the original style but adding from his own vast experience of both a classical and jazz pianist, a fascinating comparison!
- Enrico Fagnoni studied piano with Vincenzo Vitale and later he went on studying composition and as orchestra director. At the age of ten, he performed at San Carlo Theatre in Naples, gaining the attention of Nino Rota. In the USA he played with the famous clarinetist Benny Goodman.