This new CD features Ian Munro playing a selection of rags by Elena Kats-Chernin, Ann Ghandar and by Ian himself, as well as a short piece by Graeme Koehne and a set of works by the Uzbekh composer Dmitri Yanov-Yanovsky.
Since it was initiated by Scott Joplin, the rag form of piano music has become a universal favourite, and Australian composers have been exploring this form for some years now. Elena Kats-Chernin has especially taken to the rag, and her rags have become a kind of musical diary of her life. All of her works are intensely musical and most enjoyable to listen to. Quite independently Ann Ghandar, from Armidale, has been exploring the form as well, writing a charming series of works initially intended for the delight of children learning the piano. Ian is himself a formidable composer, and his rags are more elaborate in their exposition and afford the pianist a more virtuosic showcase.
Graeme Koehne’s Blues is not a rag, but has the lightheartedness and dance feel of the rag.
Ian Munro admires Yanov-Yanovsky as a composer, and commissioned him to write a set of piano works with a rag feel. Yanov-Yanvsky delivered this amazing set of pieces, in which the only rag is a piece dedicated to John Cage and consists of 33 seconds of silence! Each of the other six pieces is dedicated to a seminal 20th century composer, and each is a miniature soundworld conjuring up an aspect of each composer: Stravinsky, Ravel/Gershwin, Debussy, Ives, Schnittke and Debussy.
Munro is a superb pianist, who brings poetry, musicality and virtuosity to all he performs, and it is difficult to imagine these works performed better.