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Ramey: Piano Music / Stephen Gosling


Release Date: 06/13/2006 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 29   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 18 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Phillip Ramey is a member of a particularly American faction in the music world: excellent composers who also express themselves at a very high level via the written word—a club that includes Virgil Thomson, Leonard Bernstein, Milton Babbitt, Aaron Copland, Elie Siegmeister, and many others. Ramey is well known as a writer, with numerous interviews with leading American composers, books, and a 16-year stint as the program annotator for the New York Philharmonic. He is also a prolific and well-regarded composer, having been a protégé of the Russian born composer Alexander Tcherepnin.

Ramey’s music, heretofore unknown to this writer, has apparently had no small impact on the contemporary repertoire. There have
Read more been several premieres with major symphony orchestras, and his solo timpani music has become standard teaching fare. The solo piano music heard here is deeply impressive, primarily for the immense power of personality, often expressed with ferocious energy and dazzling texture. The sonatas and the Fantasy are the biggest pieces, dynamically speaking. They have a robust, masculine, somehow American feeling, and then some; think of the Barber Sonata but with twice as many notes—and faster.

Some clever writer once described the orchestral music of Richard Strauss as having every color of the painter’s palette included, and then the painter throws the palette onto the canvas for good measure. Cute, but the analogy sidesteps the ultimate organizational genius of Strauss. Likewise with Ramey, it is tempting to consider that he is deliberately noisy and dense, and surely some of the appeal of this music derives from the sheer excitement and energy that is displayed. But upon repeated hearing, it is not really possible to discern anything that is superfluous or fails to add to the overall effect of the music. The really impressive quality that emerges from this work is Ramey’s uncanny balance of careful design and raw power. And the album is not one long smash feast. There is plenty of whimsy and repose, especially in the somber 1977 memorial to Tcherepnin, Color Etudes from 1994, and four Tangier Portraits, written between 1991 and 1999, which includes a musical self-portrait.

British born, Juilliard trained Stephen Gosling certainly has his hands full, and even if every texture and every run are not crystal clear, he seems to have the full measure of the music, finding and delivering the expressive core. The recorded sound is superb, rich, and colorful, with the perspective of a medium sized hall, from about the 10th row.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

1.
Fantasy for Piano by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1969-1972 
2.
Color Etudes (9) by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1994 
3.
Memorial (In Memoriam Alexander Tcherepnin) by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1977 
4.
Chromatic Waltz by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993 
5.
Sonata for Piano no 1 by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1961 
6.
Sonata for Piano no 2 by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Composition written: 1966 - 2003. 
7.
Sonata for Piano no 5 "For the Left Hand" by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1989 
8.
Tangier Portraits (4) by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Notes: Composition written: 1991 - 1999. 
9.
Toccata for Piano no 2 by Phillip Ramey
Performer:  Stephen Gosling (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1990 

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