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Piano music by
Phillip Ramey -
reviewed by

'... totally sympathetic with Ramey's style.'

Phillip Ramey: Piano Music, 1961-2003. © 2006 Toccata Classics

American composer, Phillip Ramey (born 1939) has enjoyed a busy and varied musical career in the USA although I would doubt many have heard his own music here. Unfortunately for us, a lot of good American music never reaches the UK shores.

Ramey has achieved his chief success as a composer of orchestral works. His Horn Concerto (1987) was commissioned by the New York Philharmonic to celebrate its 150th anniversary and was premièred in 1993 under Leonard Slatkin. Also, an orchestration of Aaron Copland's Proclamation was premièred on Copland's 85th birthday. Ramey has also established himself as one of America's foremost writers on music having written a biography of the American composer, Irving Fine as well as interviews and writings on many other American composers. He enjoyed a sixteen year position as Programme Editor for the New York Philharmonic and has written many record sleeve notes -- you may well have read his notes in CBS/Sony products.

I was anxious to listen to this disc after hearing a very good solo piano work named Canzona on an Etcetera disc released in 1986 played by Bennett Lerner and this Toccata release is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it's an excellent opportunity to evaluate Ramey's contribution to the American piano repertoire following in the line of Copland, Barber, Schuman, Carter, Bernstein, Rorem and Corigliano amongst others who have advanced the genre. I also think our concert pianists are short on choice of good contemporary works for recitals and I would say there are two or three pieces here which any concert pianist should take a look at. For sure, Ramey put himself in the right places to assure himself a position in the line of American composers -- Ramey developed friendships with both Aaron Copland and Paul Bowles, learning much from both. But Ramey does have his own 'style' and he attributes his thanks mainly to his principal teacher, Alexander Tcherepnin.

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Copyright © 10 February 2008 Anthony Davie, Newcastle UK


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