BOLCOM Piano Rags
William Bolcom has proved his compositional versatility in virtually every genre you can name. As a masterly pianist, he has used keyboard techniques to serve whatever musical mission he’s set out to accomplish. Over several decades, Bolcom combined his gifts to forge a collection of piano rags that have kept performers and listeners mesmerised.
Pianist Spencer Myer certainly sounds smitten with these disarming pieces. He plays Bolcom’s miniature brainstorms with equal doses of sass and sweetness, giving full voice to the drama, poetry and humour that overflow from the page. In Myer’s nimble hands, the music reveals the affectionate originality the composer lavished on a popular American art form that had languished for almost half a century until performers and scholars began championing it again in the late 1960s.
Bolcom can be heard paying tribute to ragtime greats, including Scott Joplin, while mixing in his own delicious harmonic and rhythmic flavours. Syncopated figures rub shoulders with haunting melodies as the 16 selections unfold on this disc, which contains three suites whose movements are interspersed with other rags.
The music evokes everything from ghostly apparitions and scenes in the Garden of Eden – including a naughty serpent whose kiss requires the pianist to literally knock on wood – to sundry manifestations of ragtime exuberance and lyricism. Bolcom infuses every piece with vivid character and Myers seizes the opportunity to illuminate these concise treasures, which deserve a place within recital programmes, and not merely as encore afterthoughts.