Richard Dowling: Sweet and Lowdown
Songs by George Gershwin
Richard Dowling on Piano
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 24, 2013
This is a CD for all George Gershwin lovers, and it’s packed with twenty-nine tracks. In addition to Richard Dowling’s interpretation of more than a dozen Gershwin songs, he plays Gershwin’s classical, non-vocal works, such as Prelude No. 1 in B-flat major. Also included are seven Études of Gershwin’s songs, composed by Earl Wild, with fancy flourishes and stunning ripples of musicality, amidst the renowned songs, such as Liza. If you have a party and the written lyrics of some of these George and Ira Gershwin songs, this CD could be your virtual piano, as Mr. Dowling plays many of the ballads in a distinctly sing-able, even danceable rhythm.
#10 – “Andantino Moderato” Theme from Rhapsody in Blue – Composed by George Gershwin. Richard Dowling notes in the comprehensive booklet that he transcribed this track from a 1928 Gershwin recording, playing it in Gershwin’s own personal style. This rare and thoughtful theme has poignancy, romance, elegance, and rapture.
#13 – My One and Only – Composed by George Gershwin. I couldn’t help thinking of Balanchine’s 1970 ballet, Who Cares?, with its all Gershwin orchestrated score, reviewed in this magazine. Hearing the notes again now, in Mr. Dowling’s clear, enchanting style, evokes balletic images, as the music is so very rhythmic and coy.
#22 – Prelude No. 3 in E-flat minor – Composed by George Gershwin. This brief (just over one minute), yet magnetic piece has a contagious melody, flair, and shifting tempos with notes held languorously for effect. Mr. Dowling puts personality and pizzazz into the compact, beguiling theme.
#26 – Embraceable You – Composed by Earl Wild, a Virtuoso Étude on a theme of George Gershwin. This was one track I had to hear immediately twice, with its waterfalls of music, radiant and ethereal. Earl Wild has taken the central theme and expanded each phrase for spellbinding harmonies with echoing tones. At one point, Mr. Dowling’s piano sounded like a ballroom orchestra.