Rave Reviews for Brian Dykstra’s Ragtime Classics CD Continue to Roll in
Heralded collection lauded by American Record Guide critic James Harrington
WOOSTER, Ohio, — Brian Dykstra's Ragtime Classics, 1901-1919, a collection of the genre's most iconic selections, continues to draw rave reviews from music critics, even a year after its release.
The CD features Dykstra's rendition of 16 "rags" as well as two other pieces by composers of the early 20th century. Twelve of the pieces are by ragtime's "Big Three" — Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, and James Scott — the best known of which is Joplin's "The Entertainer." The other composers represented are Scott Hayden, Tom Turpin, Clarence Woods, Charles L. Johnson, Charles L. Cooke, and May Aufderheide.
Dykstra, Emeritus Professor of music at The College of Wooster where he was a member of the faculty for 38 years and served as department chair for 14 of those years, still teaches piano as an adjunct professor of music. He became interested in ragtime in 1972. Since then, he has played and composed in this style, although his primary performing interest continues to be classical music.
Once considered saloon music ill suited to the concert hall, the tuneful, toe-tapping compositions of Joplin, Lamb, Scott, and others have won considerable acceptance among classical pianists, piano teachers, and piano students around the world in the past half-century.
The most recent critique of Ragtime Classics was written by James Harrington, in the September-October edition of American Record Guide. In his review, Harrington extols Dykstra's "idiomatic performance that even includes the occasional, tasteful melodic embellishment on some of the repeats," and adds that Dykstra's "selections and performances are so good and varied that listening to this four or five times in a week remains enjoyable."
Harrington goes on to say that "(Dykstra's) program notes are exemplary and reveal the depth of his knowledge about this idiom." He concludes with a resounding endorsement by proclaiming, "This is now my ragtime disc."
As for the accolades, Dykstra, who earned his undergraduate degree in piano at The Juilliard School of Music and his master's and doctoral degrees in piano at The Eastman School of Music, says, "for the past 42 years, the classic piano rags of Scott Joplin, Joseph Lamb, James Scott, and many others have given me a lot of musical pleasure. I hope that my public performances of this uniquely American brand of light music during those years have provided listening pleasure to others, and have helped awaken them to the lasting merits of the music."
Dykstra's Ragtime Classics CD is available at The College of Wooster's Wilson Bookstore in Lowry Center (1189 Beall Ave.) along with his previous CD, Neo-Ragtime, a collection of 29 concert rags he composed for piano solo and small ensembles. Both CDs are available at amazon.com