Gershwin, George Three Gershwin Gems
FE1057 Three Gershwin Gems
arranged for string quartet by Bill Thorp
First appearing in the 1936 revue The Show Is On then featuring in the 1951 film An American in Paris (both directed by Vincente Minnelli), By Strauss is a witty homage to the Viennese waltz, and Ira Gershwin namechecks Johann Strauss’s Blue Danube, Wine Women and Song and Die Fledermaus in his lyric. He also opens the song with tongue-in-cheek lines deprecating Tin Pan Alley composers (alluded to in this arrangement), not sparing his brother:
“Away with the music of Broadway! Be off with you Irving Berlin!
Oh I’d give no quarter to Kern or Cole Porter
And Gershwin keeps banging on tin
How can I be civil when hearing this drivel?”
Joining in the fun, the arranger (up to his customary pranks) draws our attention to quite another Strauss…
“Paradise cannot refuse us” begins the tender For You, For Me, For Evermore, a lesser-known Gershwin gem which sadly only came into public view after his death in 1937 at the tragically early age of 38. His brother Ira (with the help of George’s lover Kay Swift) included it amongst the several songs he arranged for inclusion in the 1947 film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim (which incidentally gave Marilyn Monroe her cinematic debut, as the voice of a telephone operator). Stranger than that, or indeed the film’s title, was its spurious ‘dream episode’ (sadly cut in the final editing, but somewhat borrowed in this arrangement) wherein the eponymous heroine muses upon her Russian ancestry, fancying this to involve an intrepid (if wayward) Pilgrim Father, whose own ‘shocking miss’ was to somehow bypass the Americas in search of his Paradise and fetch up in the steppes of Central Asia…
Somewhat surprisingly, Porgy and Besswas the last of three consecutive failures that contributed to the Gershwins heading west to Hollywood in 1936. Billed as ‘An American Folk Opera’ the critics (and others) had difficulty in figuring out what it really was, and its initial run of 124 performances, though remarkable for a new opera, was considered a flop for a Broadway production. Since then, of course, it has become established repertoire, some of its songs (such as Summertime, It Ain’t Necessarily Soand Bess, You is My Woman) achieving classic status. I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’is sung in Act II by Porgy, the disabled beggar, to reflect his new outlook on life after Bess (who he is trying to rescue from the twin clutches of her abusive partner and her drug dealer) has moved in with him, its optimism culminating in the line “Got my gal, got my Lawd, got my song”.
Bill Thorp Dec. 2022
Score and parts £14