"Oh for a really good recording of all of Scott Joplin! Until somebody does that, Richard Zimmerman's brave, pioneering, effort will have to do. And it does quite well. While a few of the incredible 66 pieces in this set sound a bit wooden - remember he recorded 66 tunes here! It is no wonder a few of them sound as if he were sight-reading them. Where Zimmerman is good, he is very, very good, especially on the better-known pieces. Even when he is not at his best, we are hearing some tunes not recorded anywhere else.This admittedly imperfect set will be extremely tough to beat, for its comprehensiveness. It sets a benchmark. Every fan of Scott Joplin should own it, if only to be challenged to find better, or PLAY better, versions of some of the rarest tunes recorded here."
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Bob Pachaly | Greenville, SC | 01/04/2002
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I am a musician and have played Joplin's music exactly as he wrote for more than 30 years. I have also recorded it in the past. The Zimmermann boxed set has one great thing going for it. It contains many of Joplin's works that to the best of my knowledge have never been recorded. For this reason the set is worth buying. The playing however is terrible. Joplin would turn over in his grave if he heard this. For some reason many musicians think that the faster you play ragtime the better it is. In fact Joplin's works are highly syncopated compositions and much of the enjoyment in listening is to hear them at proper tempo so the mind is drawn into the incredible complexities of the score. These recordings contain many missed and slured notes. The tempo is much to fast. A few of the cuts are OK but not many. Zimmermann obviously did not read Joplin's notes on the music as to tempo. Frankly there are many recordings of Joplin that are far superior to this set. A very good CD is the RCA "Scott Joplin Greatest Hits" played by Dick Hyman. If this set had been recorded by a musician knowledgeable in ragtime music it would be a treasure. Still it may be worth buying just to have many of the lesser known compositions but if you are a critical listener you will probably be very disappointed. How I wish this collection had been well played."
Frank Bock | 03/20/2000
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I agree with my brother below, these recordings by Richard Zimmerman are not very good. Like John Lennon's version of Chuck Berry's Rock and Roll Music, Zimmerman plays the Joplin rags in his (Zimmerman's) own style, hence destroying much of the emotional intensity that Joplin sought to create. Instead, it just sounds fast, and slurred. No syncopation and no expression. John Lennon's pathetic rendition of Rock and Roll Music completely ignores the eloquence and elocution of Berry's singing, and finds him simply screaming like a maniac. Similarly, Zimmerman "whitens" up the music with pleanty of heroics and histrionics. There are several albums of Joplin rags out there that fall into this trap. "If you can't play it fast, you can't play it good," is that motto I think. Try out Joshua Rifkin's versions of the Joplin cannon. At first you'll have to break free of the mindset of hearing them played with "breathtaking" speed, but if you listen close you'll hear that there is a lot more going on in the music, and that Joplin intended it to be played slow for a reason. Do yourself a favor and investigate Joplin in a better manner than this boxset. It's like listening to Kenny G instead of Miles Davis. But if that's your cup of decaf tea, then go for it. But my money is on the Rifkin set."
Not for pleasure
Craig and Barbara Shier | Manassas, VA USA | 02/23/2001
(1 out of 5 stars)
"You may want this just to have any recording at all of some of the otherwise unavailable pieces in this collection. But, this is the worst quality playing I've ever heard on a commercial recording. The marches actually aren't too bad, but anything syncopated is not played right. Zimmerman fat fingers notes in almost every piece (i.e. he hits adjacent notes). The dynamics and tempo are erratic. The attempts at ornamentation are forced. If you enjoy piano playing, you won't enjoy this."
Comprehensive, but sometimes lacks passion
firstname.lastname@example.org | Boston, MA, USA | 08/04/1999
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you enjoy Scott Joplin, there is nothing quite so wonderful as having access to all his published works in one place. Also, the price for the five-CD set is excellent. I certainly got my money's worth. But I found the execution is somewhat mechanical and bland. Admittedly, Joplin was very specific about how he wanted his music played (not too fast, not too loud). Speaking as a keyboard player, Joplin's ragtime is simply my favorite. Somehow the performer took some of the 'oompf' out of the music..."