Syncopated Musings: Classic Piano Rags & Ragtime
'What is scurrilously called ragtime is an invention that is here to stay...Syncopations are no indication of light or trashy music, and to shy bricks at 'hateful ragtime' no longer passes for musical culture' wrote Scott Joplin in 1908 when ragtime was at the peak of it's popularity. Across the United States, composers and publishers were busy churning out one rag after another to satisfy a public that could not get enough of ragtime's 'weird and intoxicating effect.' Ragtime flourished for roughly twenty years, during which it evolved from the simple folk melodies of Tom Turpin and Blind Boone to the sophisticated, elegant works of Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, and James Scott, later giving way to the acrobatic, harmonically complex novelty rags of such composers as Zez Confrey, Roy Bargy, and Arthur Schutt. Ragtime sounds as fresh today as it did a century ago. For this recording, pianist Bryan Wright has selected sixteen classic piano rags and ragtime waltzes from 1896-1923. Many of Scott Joplin's finest compositions are presented alongside lesser known gems from such other composers as Artie Matthews, May Aufderheide, Arthur Marshall, Harry Jentes, and others (some recorded on CD for the first time). The disc also includes a handsome 8-page booklet with reproductions of original sheet music covers and notes by the performer about each of the pieces and their composers. 64 minutes. 'A nifty new CD...with one of the better booklets I've come across. Definitely worth checking out!' - Seth Williamson, WVTF Radio 'The complete dynamic range of a rich grand piano is explored to full advantage here. Wright admirably mixes his fortes and pianissimos as well as his legatos and staccatos to capture a warmth that is often missing in other ragtime recordings...Wright is quite faithful to the scores and all repeats are honored. The liner notes are quite complete and illustrated with several thumbnails of the sheet music covers...The sound quality is excellent - front row center at a concert hall - and the overall packaging has an aura of class. Bryan Wright has hit a home run with his first CD. I predict we will be hearing more from this talented young man.' - Jack Rummel, excerpt from Ragtime Music Reviews.