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William Bland: Piano Music / William Bland

Release Date: 02/13/2007 
Label:  Bridge   Catalog #: 9223   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  William Bland
Performer:  William Bland
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

W. BLAND Sonatas: No. 4; No. 14. Air de ballet. Nouveau rag. Pastorale William Bland (pn) BRIDGE 9223 (75:55)

The first couple of generations of American composers were more likely to ape European sources than to mine the very rich lode of vernacular material at their disposal. Charles Ives was a vital visionary in the search for an American orchestral sensibility, but his influence was sporadic, and even disdained by the American serialists of the second half of the 20th Read more century. The situation is much different today. There is George Crumb’s wildly inventive recycling of American folk music, Larry Bell’s deeply expressive use of Southern church hymns, and Steve Mackey’s bold incorporation of rock electric guitar into a symphonic idiom, to name but three disparate and fascinating examples among many. And here we have the piano music of William Bland, imbued with several influences, but above all, the essentially American music that is ragtime. Bland, a West Virginian (as is Crumb, for what it’s worth), was born in 1947, was educated at Peabody, did a stint in New York City, and retired to West Virginia to concentrate on composition. He has written 17 piano sonatas, and plans to round out the number at 24, with one in each of the minor and major keys, in the manner of the prelude model established by Bach.

The Sonata No. 4 is so imbued with the rag idiom that it is difficult to discern the classical outlines of the sonata form. This is a delightful work, owing more to the lyrical side of Joplin than the raucous rag style that may be more familiar to the public. Not all of Bland’s music is based on the rag format. The Sonata No. 14 is more traditionally organized, with a rippling opening movement that is reminiscent of Rachmaninoff. The two sonatas are quite different superficially, but are both products of an artist with a firm and assured grasp of technique, and an amiable and warm-hearted persona. The shorter pieces follow suit. Bland offers no innovation here, but rather a very easy on the ear, almost nostalgic amalgamation of influences, taken together, unmistakably American. His playing is, appropriately, plangent, and lyrical. Recommended with pleasure.

FANFARE: Peter Burwasser
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Works on This Recording

Sonata for Piano no 4 in E flat major "Goodbye Concert Rags" by William Bland
Performer:  William Bland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1999; USA 
Air de Ballet by William Bland
Performer:  William Bland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Nouveau Rag by William Bland
Performer:  William Bland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1995; USA 
Pastorale "Barbara and I walking in the countryside before sunset, picking wildflowers" by William Bland
Performer:  William Bland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 
Sonata for Piano no 14 in B flat major by William Bland
Performer:  William Bland (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USA 
Notes: Composition written: USA (2003 - 2005). 

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