Things are seldom so easy as they appear. Despite the cover picture on the front of this CD, these Russo and Gershwin recordings derive from two separate DG releases made in 1972 and 1977 respectively. The first LP coupled Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances from West Side Story with William Russo's Three Pieces for Blues Band and Orchestra. The second LP coupled George Gershwin's An American in Paris with Russo's Street Music. The idea behind both LPs was to demonstrate the successful fusion of classical music and jazz, something only the Gershwin work succeeded in doing completely.
In any case, when the CD era dawned, DG put together a different package from the two LPs. It had the Bernstein and Gershwin pieces coupled with Russo's Street Music. Since these were the most popular of the works on both previous records, it seemed like a good idea. Moreover, as the sound was among DG's finest, it made for an easy recommendation.
Oh, well, what we have here is quite good, if a bit repetitious in the relatively lightweight Russo material. The Gershwin sounds quite lively and strongly flavorful, though, and the remastered sound is ever so slightly better than what DG provided on their first CD release. The bass seems especially better focused and carries more impact, and the midrange likewise sounds better defined. It's a good but disappointing re-issue at the same time because I'd really liked to have heard what DG's "Original Image Bit Processing" could have done with the Bernstein piece. Maybe we'll just have to continue to wait and see.
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here: