Eskin, Virginia: “American Be

Joseph Lamb, a white musician who lived from 1887 to 1960, was considered one of the major ragtime composers of his era. By the end of his life, he had fallen into total obscurity, and even the ragtime revival hasn’t made him a household name. His rags are different in style from Scott Joplin’s, generally

Joseph Lamb, a white musician who lived from 1887 to 1960, was considered one of the major ragtime composers of his era. By the end of his life, he had fallen into total obscurity, and even the ragtime revival hasn’t made him a household name. His rags are different in style from Scott Joplin’s, generally briefer and simpler in construction but still filled with lovely melodies and unaffected charm. The “American Beauty Rag,” from which this disc takes its name, is only one of Lamb’s many delicious miniatures (most of them under three minutes). Virginia Eskin has the style of this music down perfectly. She plays with just the right tempos (a trifle faster than would be appropriate for most of Joplin) and a lyrical sensitivity that doesn’t prevent her from showing rhythmic drive. We’re used to more than 49 minutes of music on most CDs, but 20 of Lamb’s rags in a row are enough for one listening session. Don’t give up before you reach the last one, though; “Nightingale Rag” is one of Lamb’s best. A fascinating byway in American music is effectively explored and presented in realistic sound. –Leslie Gerber

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Comments

Anonymous says:

A Customer Joseph F. Lamb is generally thought of as one of the three greatest of the classical ragtime composers, the others being Scott Joplin and James Scott. It’s a matter of taste, but many rank him almost as highly as Joplin, and this exquisite album shows why. Lamb’s rags typically soar with wonderful, reverie-evoking melodies, unmatched in the ragtime canon. These melodies are offset by original, exciting, brisk passages. Virginia Eskin executes these gems wonderfully. She presents them…

Anonymous says:

Up until Joseph Lamb, the only ragtime composer who could satisfy me was Scott Joplin. These rags are excellent and distinctly different from Joplin’s, although both composers are obviously from the same genre. According to the liner notes, they even knew each other.

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