Finnissy: Gershwin Arrangements


Catalogue No: MSVCD 92030
EAN/UPC: 5019148624325
Composers: ,
Release Date: September 2000
Genres: ,
Discs: 1
Total Playing Time: 76:07
Sample: Embraceable you (extract)

Leading composer Michael Finnissy started by improvising Gershwin songs as recital encores – then developed them into formal pieces in order to explore an era in which jazz and modernism both evolved in response to social change…he wrote two groups of arrangements, both here in their only complete recording.

Track Listing

    Michael Finnissy:

  1. How long has this been going on? (3:53)
  2. Things are looking up (2:56)
  3. A foggy day in London town (3:13)
  4. Love is here to stay (4:57)
  5. They can’t take that away from me (4:22)
  6. Shall we dance? (2:29)
  7. They’re writing songs of love, but not for me (3:32)
  8. Fidgety Feet (1:51)
  9. Embraceable You (3:32)
  10. Waiting for the sun to come out (3:28)
  11. Innocent ingenue baby (4:02)
  12. Blah blah blah (1:47)
  13. Boy wanted (3:28)
  14. Love is here to stay (2:11)
  15. Limehouse nights (3:32)
  16. Wait a bit, Susie (2:36)
  17. I’d rather Charleston (3:05)
  18. Isn’t it wonderful (2:58)
  19. Nobody but you (1:45)
  20. Swanee (4:23)
  21. Dixie Rose (1:03)
  22. Someone believes in you (3:01)
  23. Nashville Nightingale (7:53)



Finnissy’s renderings often come across as kaleidoscopic, as though the songs were being viewed through varying forms of prism. It’s a startling effect, because at no point does the musical material sound remotely unclear: indeed, this is arguably some of Finnissy’s most transparent, crystalline music. These are magical moments. Due both to their inspiration and conciseness, as well as Finnissy’s treatment, these are hugely accessible pieces.

” —Simon Cummings
The Guardian

Michael Finnissy has restored the art of the piano transcription, and his versions of Gershwin standards have become the most frequently performed of all his voluminous piano output. Ian Pace’s playing is faithful and technically exemplary.

” —Unknown reviewer
Records International

Fascinating, and certainly among Finnissy’s most individual and enduring creations.

” —Unknown reviewer
BBC Music Magazine - Top Recommendations August 2000

This disc deserves a place on the shelves of every serious collector. These two cycles of Gershwin arrangements contain some of Finnissy’s best and most thought-provoking music played by one of his greatest advocates. The emotions in Finnissy’s arrangements are often as complex as the music is intricate, at one moment poignant, disturbing at the next, but always utterly compelling. Strongly recommended.

” —Unknown reviewer
International Record Review

The exercise is not only valid but musically stimulating. Pace is clearly so conversant with this music as to be a constituent part of it, while the deliberately dated piano sound and recording style is perfectly suited to this strange yet compelling music. This disc is unique and remarkable.

” —Roger Thomas
Music and Vision

As an arranger Finnissy is radical – as we should know from his own music. So the stage is set on this CD for something special. Everything is beautifully played too.

” —Unknown reviewer
The Wire

Ian Pace proves to be a heroic interpreter of Finnissy’s Gershwin transcriptions – a tough, sometimes baffling listen, but an extraordinary achievement.

” —Unknown reviewer
The Sunday Times

These versions are useful concert items at the very least. But they have other dimensions, musical and sociological, as Pace’s booklet essay explains. Using a Fazioli piano to re-create an old-fashioned sound, he plays them thoughtfully and beautifully.

” —Paul Driver
Classical London

By turns virtuosic and contemplative, they are given an incandescent performance by Ian Pace. The song tunes drift hazily in and out of the music. Layers of melody, voluptuous harmony, and intellectually challenging counterpoint entrap the listener into a wholly original and exciting sound world, nevertheless remarkably approachable for a late 20th century composition. The piano recording is delectable. This wonderful disc has already become a firm favourite in my catalogue. Finnissy is a national treasure; let’s have lots more, please.

” —Dr Brian Hardin
Classic CD

It’s impossible to do justice to the range of this remarkable music in a short review. Ian Pace has forthright views on these pieces and is an ideally characterful interpreter.

” —Unnamed reviewer