Friday, June 9, 2017

"Ragtime Beauties" by Marcus Schwarz on the Antes label couples Scott Joplin masterpieces with those of African Americans James Scott & Artie Mathews

Ragtime Beauties
Marcus Schwarz, piano
Antes Edition BM319293

Ragtime Beauties stands out among the recent crop of recordings of Scott Joplin's ragtime music for several reasons.  First, the pianist is a German from the town of Dinkelsbuhl.  The liner notes tell us: "He gained his career-defining experiences at the piano through the tuition of Ruskin Cooper and Detlev Eisinger.  His professional training as a musician started with a music theory course at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main between 1986 and 1990.  Between 1990 and 1996 he studied piano at the Kassel Music Academy..."  "Since 1995 he has been working as a piano teacher at the Baunatal School of Music.  Marcus Schwarz is an interpreter who, in addition to joint performances with other musicians, is dedicated to upholding the tradition of American ragtime and regularly gives concerts that bring this almost forgotten piano style and its main exponents back to life."  In 2008, the notes add, Marcus and an opera group performed Scott Joplin's opera "Treemonisha."

Six of the recording's 17 tracks contain prominent ragtime works of Scott Joplin: 
The Cascades, Weeping Willow, The Entertainer, Bethena, Scott Joplin's New Rag, and Solace.  The performances of these ragtime pieces stand out to our ears for their sense of putting us in the presence of the pianist.  The blend of tempo and forcefulness are riveting to the listener's attention.  The same approach is taken with works of the other composers, including the two African-Americans, James S. Scott (1885-1938) and Artie Matthews (1888-1958). 

Also very unusually, this disc features ragtime works of three women composers, May Aufderheide (1888-1972), Muriel Pollock (1895-1971) and Adaline Shepherd (1885-1950).  The album also features compositions of Charles Hunter (1876-1906) and Joseph F. Lamb (1887-1960).  The diverse works have been masterfully arranged into a coherent program.  We expect to enjoy this collection for many years to come.

Comment by email:
Dear Bill,

I am very thankful for that great review you gave me! I feel very honored, especially this judgement came from a native American expert in music. That is outstanding and makes me so proud.
By the way: I was a student when I visited your beautiful state of Michigan for the first time! A very good friend of my mothers moved to Kalamazoo to marry her husband back in the Fifties. She still lives there and that is how I visited her twice in the eighties. I love the people and the landscape very much!

Please be assured that I wish you all the best and as soon recovering!


No comments: