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Heliotrope Bouquet Piano Rags
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SIDE ONE: A Rag-Time Nightmare (Turpin), The Easy Winners (Joplin), Heliotrope Bouquet (Joplin), Ethiopia Rag (Lamb), Pegasus (Scott), SIDE TWO: Wall Street Rag (Joplin), Pork And Beans (Roberts), Graceful Ghost (Bolcom), Seabiscuits (Bolcom), Brass Knuckles (Albright & Bolcom).
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As far as the tracks, Bolcom's interpretation of Turpin's "Ragtime Nightmare" is still memorable. I also loved his version of Joplin's "Wall Street Rag." His and William Albright's "Brass Knuckles" is another one that knocks your socks off. I don't really recall my impressions of the Lamb, Scott or Luckey Roberts pieces on the album since I had no idea at that time who those guys were. Today I would listen much differently. Of course, the truly ultimate pieces on this album (for me, anyway) are Bolcom's "Graceful Ghost" and "Seabiscuits Rag."
Thanks to reviewer J. Davis for copying the liner notes. I read them voraciously back when I bought the album, and was definitely influenced by Mr. Bolcom's enthusiasm for ragtime. That's in stark contrast to just a handful of years later, by which time he had apparently sworn off ragtime for good, seemingly leaving it in the dustbin of his history. Well, I know he certainly moved on from ragtime; he's had a notable career in popular and classical music, but I'll always relate him to the ragtime renaissance of the '70s. Heck, even today Bolcom still can't escape it. Earlier this year I listened to a radio broadcast of "From the Top" and one of the young prodigies played "Graceful Ghost" on violin. Bolcom was even there and was interviewed. He talked about how he appropriated the idea of a spirit or "Ghost" from some reading of Milton that he was doing at the time he composed the piece.
Anyway, I'm a bit off subject. Does anybody know who, if anyone, picked up the Nonesuch catalog? It's probably a long shot that the masters for this recording can be located or even exist, but if they do, I wouldn't mind writing a few letters urging them to remaster this to CD.
I've never heard a better version of "The Easy Winners" than the one on this album. The pacing, the increased intensity near the end -- it sounds like Joplin himself was playing it, with Bolcom's complete familiarity with the piece giving it just the right amount of emphasis and feeling. "A Ragtime Nightmare", "Pork and Beans", "Seabiscuits" and "Brass Knuckles" are also long-time favorites. All the pieces are more expressive than the usual mechanical, metronome-enslaved style that other ragtime players often seem to fall victim to. They just don't record 'em like this anymore.
I would be thrilled if this could be remastered and released on CD or even as an MP3 album. Who knows who owns the rights this now, but if they are listening......hey, looks like you've got at least four sales here! ;o)