Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Fluffy Ruffle Girls
Genres: Jazz, Classical
This disc is more than the sum of its parts. The women ragtime composers sampled in this anthology weren't geniuses, and their pieces are seldom as memorable as those of Joplin, Lamb, or Scott. Even the rags of Mary Auferh... more »
This disc is more than the sum of its parts. The women ragtime composers sampled in this anthology weren't geniuses, and their pieces are seldom as memorable as those of Joplin, Lamb, or Scott. Even the rags of Mary Auferheide, who provided the title of the collection, are more amusing than entrancing. Yet for anyone who has explored the delights of ragtime beyond its few best-known names, these brief piano pieces are as charming and entertaining as many pieces by better-known men. Is Virginia Eskin--who plays with style and sensitivity--trying to make a point with this music about the neglect of women's artistic efforts? Well, she does that, along with providing an anthology that will stick in your memory for its collective impact more than for any single piece ... except, perhaps, for the two contemporary rags by Judith Lang Zaimont, who combines classic style with more contemporary harmonies to extremely good effect. --Leslie Gerber
A valuable addition in a rare niche
Interested Observer | Battle Creek, MI | 07/27/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A very good recording of rarely recorded works and I glad to have it. It is good for people like me who are not ragtime fanatics but do want to dig a little deeper into the era than another round of Scott Joplin. It has the benefits of modern technology (clean sound) and deficits of generic pianism (played as if for a formal recital, or even a contest jury, without even a whiff of the sporting house origins of the genre). I prefer the middle of the road, technically clean but leaning away from the studio and the concert hall, as represented by Richard Zimmerman, Sue Keller and Perfessor Bill. There are some others who inject more "flavor", speed and a really rinky tink instrument as well to come off like authentic era mechanical pianos but are still fun to have around.
My bone to pick with Virginia Eskin is her wearing a feminist revisionist agenda on her sleeve (and her front, back and forehead as well it appears). It is admirable to give exposure to a worthy body of neglected work, the approximate cream of ragtime written by women, when few are aware that such works ever existed. (I might venture that to the general public today ragtime itself consists of little more than the soundtrack of "The Sting", if that.) It is another to assert that these works are actually superior to the entire body of ragtime music composed by men with the single exception of Joseph Lamb. In the notes to her "American Beauties" CD she makes the incredible statement that until she heard Lamb she had been under the impression that all the good ragtime had been written by women! Considering Joplin's well known work with over a dozen solid masterpieces of the genre it is simply an astounding statement. If she wants to dismiss the vast body of mass-produced sludge, most of it attributable to men, that flooded the market during the ragtime era I would join her (and you can see a bunch of it yourself. If she wants to dismiss James Scott I might understand. His works are the most vigorous of the big three, more difficult than Joplin, and he deserves his spot among the top three men of the era but I find them superficial, collectively one-dimensional, and even mechanical (ideal for the piano roll, I have that CD for comparison) by comparison. They lack the depth and breadth found in Joplin and Lamb, especially the wide range of moods and styles found in Joplin. But she cannot reasonably dismiss Scott Joplin except as an act of pure idiosyncrasy or chip-on-shoulder provocation.
If you are interested in more along this line, check out Nora Hulse (http://www.nora.hulse.com). She has several CD's, and printed music to go with it, out with the purpose of getting any and all ragtime by women into the sunlight where it can stand on its own merit without invoking a gender war."