Blue Rags Ian MUNRO (b.1963) Blue Rags [15:02] Elena KATS-CHERNIN (b.1957) Four Rags for I.M. (c.1996) [11:30] After Dinner Rag [1:59] Get Well Rag (1998) [3:27] Sunday Rag (1997) [4:24] Cocktail Rag (c.2004) [2:59] Revolving Doors [1:57] Alexander Rag (1998) [2:47] Zee Rag (1998) [2:32] Ann GHANDAR (b.1943) Ragtime Suite (1998-2002) [9:01] Graham KOEHNE (b.1956) Blues (1984) [4:59] Dmitri YANOV-YANOVSKY (b.1963) Silhouettes (2001) [16:59]
rec. City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney, Australia.
December 2005 TALL POPPIES TP186 [77:39]
but Rags with a difference. These composers have all been
bitten by the rag bug but have subtly absorbed the infection
and turned it to their collective advantage. The resultant
disc, marshalled by Ian Munro who also contributes his
own pieces to the revivified genre, is one of constant
invention, unassuming wit and ear titillating sonority.
take Munro first since he is the executant hero. The first
of his own five rags is dedicated to a modern master of
the genre, William Bolcom, and it includes a brief but
striking funky moment. Blues drenched melancholia haunts
the second of the five whilst the third mines Railroad
boogie but Zez Confrey’s shade also blows into town aided
by Gershwin cadences. The fourth, Tromba Blues,
is based on Rossini and is the most allusive, its reveille
calls setting the agenda nicely. Chinoiserie tints colour
the last but they’re not kitschy and it has its pile driver
enjoyed Elena Kats-Chernin’s music many times and there’s
no let up on the enjoyment front here. Long resident in
Australia she’s dedicated four rags to Munro and has written
a number of others. Peggy’s Rag was written during
a stay at the house left to composers in her will by that
great composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks. Good to see a scholarly
study of her music is forthcoming from Ashgate. And it’s
typical of this wonderful woman that she willed her house
in this way. Like her, Kats-Chernin’s celebratory rag
is life-affirming and has a brief but lovely filigree B
section. Rug Rag reminds me a little of Dick Hyman’s
rag playing – it’s quite symphonic. Russian Rag II is
quite puckish whilst After Dinner Rag is couched
more in gentle and deft salon style. Whereas Revolving
Doors is a brief, limpid and rather sad piece. Zee
Rag, admits the composer, is the least melodic – but
it still has some fascinating patterns.
Ghander comes from New England and her Suite has some indelibly
exciting and tense moments. Verveful and ebullient – after
a slow start – Rainy Day Rag gets riper and riper.
And Railroad Rag, the last of the five, marries
pliancy with power, evoking left hand railroad rhythms,
and is not ashamed to pile up some Lisztian bravura or
to end abruptly. Fun! Graham Koehne’s Blues was
written for string quartet in 1984 but has been arranged
for solo piano. Gershwin cadences haunt this. Finally there
is Silhouettes by Uzbek composer Ditri Yanov-Yanovsky.
Each is named after a composer and evokes their style;
Stravinsky, Ravel or Gershwin - that’s what the rag is
called, Ives, Shostakovich, Debussy and Schnittke. Stravinsky
gets his crabbed ragtime style, the joint tribute to Ravel
and Gershwin has pawky wit, Ives is wrong-footing and full
of hymnal moments, duly shattered. Debussy’s isn’t much
of a rag. Apparently there is a sixth movement dedicated
to John Cage marked Quasi Ragtime – but you can
guess why it’s not ‘played’ here. Anyway Ervin Schulhoff
got there long before Cage’s 4’33” with his silent Dadaist
hi jinks in the Five Pittoresken of 1919 – but let’s
not get side-tracked.
broadminded auditors and for lovers of the malleable twistings
of the classicised rag this is a delightful disc. Take
it in short, direct, concentrated bursts, lights low, and
allow the porous magic of the genre to work on your imagination.
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