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Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Marches, Waltzes & Songs

Guido Nielsen

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Album Review

There have been several packages over the years claiming to include the "complete" Scott Joplin; however, most of these collections have been compromised in some way in terms of their "completeness." Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Marches, Waltzes and Songs on Basta featuring pianist Guido Nielsen is as close to the ideal as anyone has come to date, including all of Joplin's music for solo piano, excepting the examples given in his teaching manual The School of Ragtime and the instrumental sections of the opera Treemonisha. Likewise, all of Joplin's songs are included, though without a singer — they are played as piano solos with the melodic line clearly spelled out. It is hard to blame Basta for taking such an approach, as the lyrics to many of Joplin's songs are so politically incorrect by current-day standards that they might well overshadow the fine musical qualities of these works. Also included is the recently recovered 35-second fragment of music found in a photograph made of Joplin's piano around 1940.

"Completeness" aside, the four-disc package wouldn't be of any value if the performances were less than top-drawer, and in this respect, Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Marches, Waltzes and Songs really delivers. These are absolutely splendid readings, with sane choices of tempo, not too much rubato, and a nice compromise struck between the popular idiom of ragtime and a more "classical" feel, which Joplin did intend for certain rags. In particular, the late rags on the third disc have never sounded as well as Guido Nielsen plays them here. The set comes with two generous, well-illustrated booklets that contain up-to-date notes by Ed Berlin and Galen Wilkes. Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Marches, Waltzes and Songs easily exceeds anything else in its class and will be universally embraced by anyone who is already inclined toward the music of Scott Joplin.

Customer Reviews

Scott Joplin: The Complete Rags, Marches, Waltzes & Songs

This is the Scott Joplin album to buy. It is all Joplin, as he surely intended his music to be heard. There is no interjection of extraneous or 'artistic' embellishments; it is right off the printed music and piano rolls, with the touch of the expert pianist. He does play some of the music a little faster than Joplin intended, but most everyone does, and that is something hard to resist. Still, I would call this a very good, maybe the best, tribute to one of America's first musical geniuses.

Best quality and selection!

This album is awesome! The quality is amazing and the songs are actually performed at the intended tempo. I love Scott Joplin's music and this album is the best yet!

Straight off of a Player Piano

Three out of five stars. Like an earlier reviewer mentioned, it certainly doesn't have any artistic embellishments. His playing almost sounds robotic, like it was pulled straight off a player piano. Not a whole lot of soul to this one, but the pieces are technically perfect. These aren't tracks I would put on repeat in the background of your living room, however. They're a little too cold to enjoy over and over while doing, I dunno, whatever it is you might do. Playing Yahtzee or something.

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Customer Ratings