George Gershwin was the first highly successful classical/jazz cross-over composer. He wrote his Three Preludes – his only solo piano concert works – in 1926, two years after the monumentally successful Rhapsody in Blue. , The first performance took place at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York.
Based on a five-note blues motif Prelude No.1 is rhythmically lively with a strong jazz feel. Although the music is somewhat reminiscent of the popular dance rhythms of the era the piece’s syncopated rhythms and flattened seventh chords were adventurous techniques virtually unheard of in the classical arena in the late 1920s. Prelude No. 1 is often, and rather aptly, summed up as a ‘tango-powered tour-de-force’.
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