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More ‘Fanfare’ for Brian Dykstra ‘Rags’

UPublish story by John Finn

Fanfare magazine, in a list of top recordings from the past year, singled out Brian Dykstra’s “Neo-Ragtime” CD as one of its favorites. Reviewer Barry Brenesal chose Dykstra’s collection because he said the “rags show just how much vitality, wit, sentiment, and stylistic variety remain in the genre Bolcom and Albright revitalized in the 1970s.” He added, “it’s unabashedly tuneful stuff with enough harmonic spice in the mix to keep things interesting.”

Brenesal’s glowing account continued when he said, “two flavors are offered: solo piano rags, and rags for various solo instruments with piano accompaniment. ”He concluded by saying, “if you aren’t wedded to the profound seriousness of somebody’s greatest classics list, you may just want to take the plunge and try this out. The water’s fine.”

Dykstra, the Neille O. and Gertrude M. Rowe Professor of Music Emeritus at The College of Wooster, has composed 61 concert rags for piano solo and a variety of chamber ensembles during the past four decades. “Neo-Ragtime” features 23 of his compositions that are described as fusing “the joy, energy, piano style, and formal characteristics of classic ragtime with an expanded emotional range and harmonic vocabulary, greater technical demands, and structural flexibility.”

Accompanying Dykstra on the CD are a host of talented musicians: Greg Banaszak (alto saxophone), Katherine DeJongh (flute and alto flute), Kyra Kester (piccolo), Barrick Stees (bassoon), James Umble (alto saxophone), Carolyn Gadiel Warner (violin), and Robert Woolfrey (clarinet).

Donald Rosenberg from the Cleveland Plain Dealer praised “Neo-Ragtime” for “moving from the boisterous to the poignant, with ample harmonic variety, melodic appeal, and even levity to keep the ears entranced.”

The CD is available for purchase at and on iTunes.

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