After an extremely difficult week, I needed a little spot of sunshine. Well, today it showed up… in my mailbox. Inside was my box set chronicling the complete works of Scott Joplin. (Relax Mom, I’m making you a copy.) Four CDs of ragtime music, performed by the incredibly talented Guido Nielsen. The album was recorded digitally as Nielsen played on a full-size grand piano. The quality is stunning, and his handling of the tunes is amazing. He plays with the accuracy of a firing squad, every last note in perfect rhythm. But the songs don’t sound mechanical at all. They very much reflect the intended mood of the pieces, and I’m left feeling convinced that Joplin would be thrilled by the results. Nothing fluffy or romaticised… it’s just the way Joplin would have wished he could play them (rumor has it, he was a lousy performer!)
Even the artwork for this set is incredible. Chris Ware, the greatest comic book artist and illustrator living today (and proud Chicagoan,) designed the box set, right down to the artwork on the discs themselves. His interpretation of early 20th century design is a perfect compliment to the music, further transporting you to that time period.
This ragtime music is a happy trip down memory lane for me, listening to these songs from the “back back” of our clunky, brown Olds station wagon.
Here’s a Flash-based teaser for Ware’s graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan, Smartest Kid on Earth.