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Magnetic Rags: Ragtime for Brass

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 1, 2000
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 1, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Klavier
  • ASIN: B000059RXJ
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,436 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Avatar Brass Quintet Store

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Format: Audio CD
I endeavored to track down some music written by William Ryden, and ran across this gem of an album, consisting of rags arranged, and in one case composed, by him for brass quintet. (Some time back, I had been at a chamber orchestra concert, and one of the featured works, by Ryden, impressed me enough for such a search. That featured work, a setting of Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" for vocal quartet, narrator and chamber orchestra, was perfect "pops concert" fare, but alas has yet to be recorded. Too bad; it was both charming and amusing.)

Ryden has to his credit the composing of more than 250 rags for piano. One of them-"Frogmore Stew"-is among the brass quintet arrangements on this album, and, based on its hearing, he seemingly deserves as much prominence as William Bolcom, following in the tradition of Scott Joplin (who has five of his more famous rags included on the album).

Scott Joplin! Who can forget the pathbreaking Nonesuch LP of his piano rags that Joshua Rifkin did more three decades ago, and the effect that album had on the genre? It wasn't just "The Sting" that reflected this rediscovery; this "craze of the times"; it seemed that everyone and his brother wanted to get in on the act. One popular release of the times was Gunther Schuller's "The Redback Book," with the New England Conservatory Orchestra. And I could swear that the Canadian Brass had taken their own whack at the craze, but, in checking my LP library, as well as an Amazon search, I may have conflated a possible Joplin album from them with "The Village Band" album, brass quintet transcriptions of other music from the Gilded Era.

Well, never mind the Canadian Brass! The Avatar Brass Quintet perform these works with all the skill and panache that one could ask for.
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I've collected ragtime recordings for some time, and I'm always delighted to find "non-traditional" arrangements of my favorite classic piano rags. Usually, I'm amused by the novelty of hearing these rags orchestrated for instruments other than the piano, but after a few plays, the novelty frequently wears off and I'm back to my piano recordings. Not so here! This is a magnificent recording by a top-notch group in the style of the Canadian Brass. The arrangements are fresh and exciting, they breathe new life into many of these classics. Still, the arrangements are faithful to the originals, and make no attempt to "jazz up" these old rags. The disc has a beautiful warm sound to it, and the members of the Avatar Brass Quintet play magnificently. I particularly like their versions of "Creole Belles," "A Real Slow Drag," and one of the prettiest rags I've ever heard, "Slippery Elm Rag." This has quickly become one of my favorite ragtime discs in my collection. I've listened to it dozens of times, but I never tire of it. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up before it goes out of print. Highly recommended!
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By A Customer on May 24, 2004
Format: Audio CD
This is a wonderful disc featuring classic American rags performed by a talented brass quintet. The timbral dynamics of the quintet are gentle and stunning at the same time. The ensemble's timing and inflection are excellent. Track times are good.
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AMAZING!
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