On Ch. 2, ragtime in all its glory
By Richard Dyer
One hot evening last July the cameras of Maryland Public Television caught Gunther Schuller and the New England Ragtime Ensemble in
action at the Wolf Trap festival. Tonight at 10, the simulcast program airs on
The music is one of the glories of our American heritage. The arrangements in which ragtime is still most often heard proclaim their own period; the music itself never dates. These twelve wonderful pieces by Scott Joplin, James Scott, Arthur Marshall, James Europe, Zez Confrey and Jelly Roll Morton make you want to tap your toes, snap your fingers, get on your feet and move. The Wolf Trap audience canít help bursting into the music with applause for the performers; itís also a release of pure pleasure.
Schuller, snappy in a green jacket and purple bow tie, introduces most of the pieces in an informal and informative way, explaining
that ragtime was a kind of
The performances are as spiffy as everyone in this area would expect. Schuller has frequently said that ragtime music sounds deceptively easy to perform. When he guest-conducts symphony orchestras, he is often asked to bring some ragtime along, but the players find it almost impossible to get right. The Ragtime Ensemble knows just what to do. They play the rags like the superb chamber music it is. And they swing.