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This is a fascinating, beautifully packaged release, marred by close, shallow and tinny recording. In contrast, the documentation is among the best: an essay by American pianist Donna Coleman, two other informed essays plus a bibliography. Coleman’s research into Ives’ ragtime works led her to Cervantes (1847-1905). It is not difficult to hear the influence of Joplin, Gottschalk and Alkan here (encouraged by Gottschalk, Cervantes studied under Alkan in Paris). The very first piece, Zig-Zags, emphasises the Joplin connection, and there is some serious individuality to Cervantes’ music (witness the strangely Scarlatti-like opening to the third piece we hear, La Encantadora). The sense of longing that suffuses so much Latin American music is found in several of these works. Yet perhaps this is not the discovery Coleman implies: her writing is more persuasive than the music itself. At least she encourages one to take the music seriously and to realise the diversity here.

COLIN CLARKE Read the full review on Agora Classica


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