Irving Berlin: This Is The Life!
THE SOUNDS OF BERLIN’S EXCITING ‘BREAKTHROUGH YEARS’ – 1909-1921
WORLD PREMIERE RECORDINGS OF LOST BERLIN MUSIC!
INCLUDES A 50-PAGE ILLUSTRATED HISTORICAL BOOKLET
IRVING BERLIN: THIS IS THE LIFE!
(New World Records 80773-2):
Performed by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Rick Benjamin conductor;
featuring Bernadette Boerckel, soprano; Daniel Marcus, tenor; Edward Pleasant, baritone; with Heather Hill, soprano and Thomas Carle, tenor.
“…[a] superb release…. delightful listening experiences…. Benjamin’s essay,
which runs over 10,000 words, is as rewarding as the disc is enjoyable.
You may find yourself returning to both frequently.”
– Broadway Stars
“Response to the singing and instrumental work on New World Record’s new CD could reach a new world’s record of cheers from music fans…. It’s like a trip back in time that is an eye-opener, ear-opener, and mind-opener…. The past is indeed in good hands when the baton is in the hand of conductors such as musicologist Rick Benjamin.”
– Talkin’ Broadway
“Benjamin’s Paragon Ragtime Orchestra swings nicely in clean lines under his lively direction, and the vocal soloists share a similarly old-fashioned quality….
[an] engaging time capsule.”
– Opera News
“…a buoyantly vibrant album…. It is a genuine treat.”
– Broadway Direct
“The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra is an exceptional ensemble, and it performs these charming pieces with affection and verve.”
– CD Hotlist
“Our explorations here strip away a century of ‘updates’ to experience Berlin’s music as it was heard when new. With the use of rediscovered historic period scores, I have put together a program from what I consider to be Berlin’s ‘breakthrough’ period – from 1909, the year of his first words and music hit, to 1921, when he became the first songwriter ever to build a Broadway theater to showcase his own creativity.” – Rick Benjamin
Songwriter Irving Berlin (1888-1989) remains an American cultural icon. His extraordinary genius took him on a journey extending from the birth of the pop music industry (“Tin Pan Alley”), to the stages of Broadway and into the hearts of millions through the mediums of radio, movies, and television. Over six decades, Berlin’s 1,500 songs became the virtual “soundtrack” of 20th century American life.
While Berlin’s classic middle- and late-period works are still known and loved around the world, the music that launched him as “America’s greatest songwriter” in the 1900s and 1910s is now forgotten and largely unavailable. Yet from an historical perspective, these early years are Berlin’s most fascinating and perhaps, most important: through them, Israel Isidore Beilin – an impoverished immigrant who spoke no English and never studied music – transformed himself and the face of American popular song. As “Irving Berlin,” he became an extraordinary commentator on our national life and in a breathtakingly short time was making his own considerable influences upon it.
Ranging from his explosive 1909 arrival as “The Ragtime King” into the dawn of the Jazz Age, the this album highlights Berlin’s songs for vaudeville, revue, and the Broadway stage. Of particular interest are rediscovered scores from Berlin’s first musical – the legendary Watch Your Step (1914). The selections are performed from rare historic orchestrations prepared by Irving Berlin’s own staff of arrangers and orchestrators. The recording is accompanied by a large illustrated booklet giving insights into overlooked aspects of Berlin’s career, including his curious working methods, as well as his brilliant successes as the publisher of his own creations and proprietor of a true, pioneering “entertainment empire.”
Produced by Judith Sherman, the current Grammy Award winning “Producer of the Year – Classical,” THIS IS THE LIFE! is sure to delight.