Monday, July 09, 2007

Ragtime & Rhapsody

Yesterday I enjoyed listening to the shown cd, "Ragtime and Rhapsody" (Herman Rec., HJCD 1033) released 2005 featuring a live-recording of a solo concert recital by the accomplished Norwegian pianist Morten Gunnar Larsen. The cd, recorded 1997 in Norway, is an amazing tour-de-force in ragtime and related piano compositions, covering music by James Scott, Joplin, Eubie Blake, Jelly Roll Morton, Willie "The Lion" Smith, David Thomas Roberts - and the "Rhapsody in Blue" version for solo piano by George Gershwin and Christian Sinding's "Rustles of Spring" (Fruhlingsrauschen) plus Larsen's own "Norsk Rag No.1". Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" may be considered the highlight of the recital, this heralded modern classic fitting surprisingly well with the remaining repertoire of the concert, all extremely well performed and a most enjoyable experience to be listening to. The cd is well recorded, too, audio balance above average - click on picture above to listen to sound clips from the recording.

Morten Gunnar Larsen graduated from the Norwegian Acadamy of Music in 1978, having specialised in classic ragtime and early jazz piano,with emphasis on Scott Joplin, Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake, and Louis M Gottschalk. He recorded his first solo album in 1975 for which he received the ‘Spellemannsprisen’ award (the Norwegian Grammy). He has been a regular member of: Magnolia Jazz Band,Ytre Suloens Jassensemble and The Norwegian Rhythm Kings, and has toured with ‘One Mo’ Time’(where he was also Musical Director.) Morten has also created several musical programmes such as ‘Memories of Eubie’,based on Eubie Blake’s music, excerpts from Joplin’s ‘Treemonisha’, and , in collaboration with American actor/playwright Vernel Bagneris, ‘Jelly Roll - The Music and the Man’, which played a highly successful Off Broadway run for 11 months during the 1994 - 95 season, receiving two Off Broadway awards and gaining Morten an ‘Obie’ for his role as solo pianist and musical director.
Mr. Larsen has also been leading his own Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra since 1977, learn more about this clicking here
I found some video fragments of a performance by Ophelia Ragtime Orchestra uploaded at YouTube, one of them inserted below, hope you to enjoy




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