L ast week I had the pleasure of working with George Gershwin as he played his own performance live of the Rhapsody in Bluewith the Sydney Symphony. It was a wild ride as Mr Gershwin obviously had had three stiff coffees on the day he recorded the piano roll and the tempi were way faster than any usual modern performance. (So fast in fact that Mark Robinson the timpanist with the orchestra asked me afterwards if we could possibly never again work with dead people.) I made a little disclaimer to the audience that we may expect a little light turbulence and to keep their seatbelts fastened, which reminded me of a very contentious disclaimer that Leonard Bernstein famously made in April 1962 as he conducted Glenn Gould in a performance with the New York Philharmonic of the first Piano Concerto by Brahms. It was a live broadcast, so we know exactly what he said: “You’re about to hear a rather shall we say unorthodox performance of the Brahms D Minor concerto, a performance distinctly different from any I’ve ever heard, or even dreamt of for that matter, in its remarkably broad tempi and its frequent...

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