Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gershwin and The Heat

Last Thursday we enjoyed a wonderful evening of Gershwin at the Baltimore Symphony playing at Strathmore in North Bethesda.  First of all, the hall and its acoustics are superb. Second, the orchestra and soloist did a magnificent rendition of Rhapsody in Blue.  This was the high point of the evening--all of the themes were presented with precision and brio by all of the orchestra's sections.  The opening number was a suite of Leonard Bernstein's music from On the Town, which provided a nice start.

The rest of the Gershwin program, though never less than pleasing, was somewhat anticlimactic, partly because the orchestra did such a fine job on Rhapsody in Blue and also because the rest of the pieces were either not up to it musically or the selection could have been better.  This was especially the story with the suite from Porgy and Bess. Yes, it had a few of the great songs, including Summertime, I'm On My Way, Bess, You Is My Woman Now, and I Got Plenty o'Nuttin.  But where were Sportin' Life's two terrific numbers--It Ain't Necessarily So and There's a Boat Leavin' Soon for New York? And alas, after the rhapsody, An American in Paris is a slighter composition.  I almost missed not only Gene Kelly's dancing his way through the movie but George Guetary's cornball "I'm on a Stairway to Paradise."

Then a few nights later, we took in a summer movie, The Heat. If you haven't seen it, it's a girl-buddy vehicle for Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, one a sleek, uptight FBI agent and the other an out-of-shape, totally street-smart Boston cop. Lots of character and lots of conflict follow. The idea was good, some of the lines and scenes are funny, but on the whole, it is written and played far too broadly (no pun intended) and descends into all-too-typical Hollywood silliness.

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