I have been on a quest to find the perfect rendition of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. There are so many bad interpretations: some jazz, some symphonic. I think both camps fail to understand what the man was up to. His head wasn't in ragtime or dixieland, and it wasn't in classical. He was marrying the two. And even some who know this don't seem to play it with the body, invention, excitement, and nobility that Gershwin intended. The dude's head wasn't in the 20s or 30s - it was in the 50s! He and Ira were greatly influencial in creating the 50s arts culture, I feel. That synthesis, (and WWII), also fed into to the 50s conservative racial backlash, and (oppositely) the whole Yippie/Hippie thing. The arrival of the Beatles really harkened back to the spirit of the Gershwins.
I need to keep notes on the renditions I hear - because I'm always forgetting things. I just heard (again) Michael Tilson Thomas' 1990 version with the L.A. Philharmonic / Ensemble - and it really is pretty good. It is very creative and alive. One gets a feel of being in the 20s - but not patronisingly so - and still the majesty of a Ravel-like classical orchestra is preserved. I think it is not surpising that the version comes out of L.A. rather than NY, because L.A. was so key to the whole 50s thing, even though the first performance of R.I.B. was in NY.
A note to Desiree - I think it was Gershwin's Concero in F. - I'll have to hear it again to be certain.