Rhapsody In Navy Blue

George Gershwin, Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy

(1 customer review)
(6 press reviews)
Original Recording Format: DSD 256
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What makes American music so recognizably American, including the compositions for wind instruments on this special recording? Is it because it mirrors a multicultural nation? A nation of migrants from across the world, of slaves, and, not to forget, of the original Indian inhabitants?

In American music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, these cultures and styles encounter one another and intermingle, stretching from Charles Ives through Aaron Copland to John Adams. In contrast to Europe, traditions in America are less firmly anchored historically, since the nation is young and its musical history much shorter. Classical music in Europe was once something of a sacred bastion, as became quite clear in the 1920s and 1930s when that world was often shaken up by composers who liked to dilute their classical creations with generous dashes of jazz. Among them were Maurice Ravel, Francis Poulenc, Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, and Paul Hindemith.

At first, there was resistance in the USA to the influence of jazz and blues on classical music, as experienced by Aaron Copland, who decamped for some time to Mexico. But the crossing between ‘serious’ and ‘light’ gradually became fluent in America, and audiences came to acknowledge that music may be well-sounding and rhythmically catching.

This recording offers a fine sampling of music from the United States for military band and illustrates this typical, multicolored American amalgam of folk music, religious hymns, jazz, blues, marches, and other military music.

On the present recording, Rhapsody in Blue is heard in the original version, as performed at the 1924 premiere by Paul Whiteman’s jazz band, and scored for two clarinets, oboe, three saxophones, two horns, two trumpets, two trombones, tuba, percussion, banjo, violins, and double bass.

A piano roll made in 1925, featuring composer George Gershwin as the soloist (!) was discovered by chance. There was just one problem, however, for the roll comprised not only the solo part but also the accompaniment (piano) part. The 5,000 to 6,000 little perforations were sealed by Jan Bouman, and the result is nothing less than a revelation.

Read more details about this release in this blog post.

Watch “The Making Of” video of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, with George Gershwin’s own performance of the piano solo!

Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy
George Gershwin, Piano Solo on Rhapsody In Blue (from the Original 1925 Piano Roll)
Major Arjan Tien, Conductor


Please note that the below previews are loaded as 44.1 kHz / 16 bit.
Melillo - A Sending
Bennett - Suite of Old American Dances - Cake Walk
Bennett - Suite of Old American Dances - Schottische
Bennett - Suite of Old American Dances - Western One-Step
Bennett - Suite of Old American Dances - Wallflower Waltz
Bennett - Suite of Old American Dances - Rag
Barber - Commando March
Copland - Variations on a Shaker Melody
Copland - Fanfare for the Common Man
Corigliano - Gazebo Dances for Band - Overture
Corigliano - Gazebo Dances for Band - Waltz
Corigliano - Gazebo Dances for Band - Adagio
Corigliano - Gazebo Dances for Band - Tarantella
Ives - March, 'Omega Lambda Chi'
Copland - Emblems
Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue

Total time: 01:20:49

Additional information





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Van den Hul

Digital Converters

Horus, Merging Technologies

Editing Software

Pyramix, Merging Technologies

Mastering Engineer

Jared Sacks


Bruel & Kjaer 4006, Schoeps




Original Recording Format

Pianola/Player Piano

Jan Bouman / George Gershwin


Jared Sacks

Recording Engineer

Jared Sacks

Recording location

Studio 1, MCO Hilversum, the Netherlands (FEB 2020)

Recording Type & Bit Rate

DSD 256


Grimm LS1

Release DateOctober 2, 2020

Press reviews

Luister 10/10 10 out of 5

Arjan Tien zorgde voor nieuw élan (…) Fascinerend repertoire dat ieder Nederlands blaasorkest direct moet gaan beluisteren.

BBC Radio 3

“Now here’s an irresistible, flamboyant album of Americana from the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy. They’ve called it Rhapsody In Navy Blue and the pianist in Gershwin’s rhapsody is George Gershwin. Yes, it’s from the piano role Gershwin recorded in 1925. But to give you a flavour of the album and the playing, here is something much more recent. A tarantella by John Corigliano.”

{Played track- Corigliano, J: Gazebo Dances for Band IV. Tarantella}

“The tarantella from American composer John Corigliano’s Gazebo Dances for Band and the sound of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy conducted by Major Arjan Tien. American music from Ives, Barber & Copeland to the original jazz band version of Gershwin’s rhapsody in blue, with Gershwin as the pianist. It’s great fun, fine recording as well. Rhapsody in Navy Blue it’s called, a new release on Channel Classics.”

Opus Klassiek

(…) Er wordt letterlijk over de muzikale én topografische grenzen heen gemusiceerd en dan ook nog met werkelijk internationale allure in de MCO-studio in Hilversum vastgelegd. Wat mij betreft mag de serie van de ‘Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy’ met evenveel aplomb worden voortgezet. En dan te bedenken dat Channel Classics met deze serie ‘Originals’ al eerder geschiedenis heeft geschreven.

Noordhollands Dagblad 5 out of 5

Fonkelende uitvoering (…) een huzarenstukje (…) grote verrassing: de vrijheid waarmee Gershwin zijn eigen muziek speelt. (…) Een cd met sprankelende Amerikaanse stukken voor harmonieorkest.

De Gelderlander 5 out of 5

Dit keer worden de schijnwerpers op de Verenigde Staten gericht en ook met dit repertoire weten majoor Arjan Tien en zijn muzikanten uitstekend raad. (..) De uitvoering van Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue daagt uit en swingt van alle kanten. Mooie pianoklank ook. En alle lof voor Bouman die de geponste muziekrol stabiel aan de praat houdt. (…) Een uitstekend samengestelde bloemlezing (…) De Marinierskapel doet hier en elders niet onder voor de beste Amerikaanse showorkesten.

NativeDSD Senior Reviewer

I especially like the Gershwin Rhapsody In Blue and the Copland Fanfare.

Great stuff!

1 review for Rhapsody In Navy Blue

    I took a chance on this recording after reading that I could hear Gershwin play Gershwin. I mean, how could you not want to find out what this is all about? After listening to this album several times (I almost cannot stop playing it) I can attest that even without the Gershwin, I recommend buying this album. All of the music is wonderful. Melilo’s “A Sending” is a great new piece for me that had an immediate emotional impact when I listened to for the first time.

    It is hard to appreciate the sound of a live horn section, and percussion section, as experienced in the concert hall. As a regular patron of live Seattle Symphony Orchestra performances for many years, sitting relatively close to the stage, I am are continually astounded by the sound quality of a live orchestra. The sound pressure emanating from the stage is amazing, particularly from the horns and the bigger drums. The clarity of the many other percussion instruments in this setting is hard to capture in a recording. So, I wondered if a recording of the Marine Band of the Royal Netherlands Navy could capture that magic? I can now say that It most certainly does.

    Being stuck at home most of the year, I have purchased, and listened to a fair amount music this year. There is still a little over two months to go, but this is currently album of the year for me.


      I appreciate your having taken the time to review this recording of mine. The Gershwin was indeed a challenge as the maestro himself had taken a good deal of liberty with tempos and leaving out notes! There was one section we had to try at least 10 times to figure out what Gershwin was playing.

      Jared Sacks

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