Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Scott Joplin, Scott and Daniels, Charles N. Joplin, John Arpin|
The Complete Piano Music of Scott Joplin [Box Set]
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Classical
Watch out, Rifkin!
"Gimpy" Peach Johnson | 01/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is by far the best "budget" complete Joplin set I've ever come across. It's far superior to the Dick Zimmerman Laserlight set I have (which costs about three times as much!), and it's certainly better than those cheap sets that crop up in the bargain bins at Best Buy which feature poorly-recorded piano roll versions of these pieces. Each of the four CD's in this set runs about an hour, and each has 12-13 selections: rags, waltzes, and marches by Scott Joplin. Overall, I like the way Arpin plays these pieces. With very few exceptions, the tempos are good (not too fast), and personally, I'm not offended by Arpin's own embellishments. Within reasonable limits, I like to hear performers interpret music and make it "their own." I've played over two dozen Joplin rags myself, and find myself adding little grace notes, slightly changing a rhythm here or there, or adding other embellishments to avoid playing a piece exactly the same way every time I play it, otherwise, it can get boring after a while. Naturally, I limit my "additions" when performing this music for others unfamiliar with Joplin's rags, more as Joplin would have had it. This Arpin set, with all of his embellishments, therefore is especially good for someone who already owns a more straightforward recording of these pieces and who wishes to hear them played with a slightly different approach. For the Joplin newcomer, this is a good first set, but be aware when listening that Arpin has taken some liberties with the music--in most cases, it's not *exactly* as Joplin wrote it. Technically, the recording itself is very good. The piano has a nice "on stage" sound to it, but it's not lost in reverb. Each note is very clear, and the piano has a natural sounding balance. All things considered, I'm very happy with this set. And to get four CD's for less than the regular price of one CD, every ragtime fan should have this set. Highly recommended!"
Jake McKay | sumter, sc | 09/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're a fledgling Joplin listener/player...don't buy this set. Instead, buy the Joshua Rifkin disc. The reason I say this is because Rifkin plays the pieces as written. You can follow along verbatim on the written page. This collection is full of ad-libs and ornaments. There are few consistent tempos throughout a piece. John Arpin is obviously full of energy and freedom of expression, but he strays too far away from the notes as written by the master. There's nothing wrong with playing Joplin's music that way (I ab-lib when playing "Maple Leaf Rag"), but I think it's unfair to bias people with your interpretation until they have properly heard the piece played as written.
Pros of this set:
-it is a complete collection of Joplin's rags
-"Bethena" is beautiful (but, it is hard to screw that one up)
-No music from "Treemonisha" (Joplin's opera). The Rifkin set doesn't offer any music from the opera either.
-The bass drowns out the melody lines in many of the pieces."
Arpin's Joplin is superb.
E. G. Jones | Auckland, New Zealand | 11/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A couple of years ago a friend posted me a tape of many players at a ragtime festival. One stood out for many reasons - John Arpin playing a piece by Hal Isbitz. Ever since I have meant to acquire more of this man's recordings but have only just got around to it.
In hearing Arpin I experienced the same effect I perceived when I first heard Angela Hewitt play the Forty-eight. They both have a very wide range within every pianistic effect. Detached through to legato, loud through to soft, sustained to crisp. Each puts this ability to work in slightly different ways, of course. Hewitt uses it to delineate voices and impart individual character to each piece while Arpin uses it more within each number, in combination with a judiciously applied and delightful elasticity of tempo. Although I have been playing many of these rags for years myself, I felt I was suddenly hearing them in colour instead of in black and white.
Arpin does add embellishments but they are quite in character and are neither intrusive nor excessive. Often they comprise rolling of octaves, substitution of thirds for single notes and insertion of the odd broken chord, but not in the same way each time. The bending of tempo (I don't think rubato is quite the correct word for what he does) is bound to annoy those who like their ragtime in strict piano-roll style, but personally I am inclined to be flexible. I never play classical pieces or my own works the same way from one day to the next and I do not expect a master professional to do so.
The quality of the recording is generally excellent. On a few occasions I found the treble notes a bit dull and in a couple of parts I heard odd high frequencies, which I assume were sympathetic vibrations of some sort produced during recording. These, however, are very minor things and do not detract in any way from the overall effect.
I am going to enjoy these CDs for a very long time. I also cannot help wondering what Arpin's classical playing sounds like. How I would like to hear his ideas in the Chopin studies !"