Scott Joplin:The Complete Rags, Waltzes & Marches
"It is never right to play Ragtime fast." Scott Joplin's famous instruction, printed at the top of most of his publications, has been overlooked by many pianists who take quick, Tin Pan Alley tempos for such favorites as "Maple Leaf Rag" and "The Easy Winners." Listening to William Appling's four-CD set of the complete rags, waltzes, and marches, one should be convinced that the correct speed for most of Joplin's piano music seems to be a moderate walking, if not ambling, pace, and Joplin's subtle harmonies and intricate syncopations are easier to appreciate when the timing is leisurely. Appling came to Joplin by way of rediscovering a student's abandoned copy of the Collected Works edition, and playing through the rags in 2001 gave him the impetus to record not only this impressive collection, but also to work on other Joplin projects, such as a full-scale production of the opera "Treemonisha." While numerous collections are available, Appling's set is the first complete recording of Joplin's piano music made by an African-American pianist, and his remarkable two-year project shows his determination to give the music the permanence and respect that it deserves, as well as the proper pacing.