Mayerl: Piano Music, Vol. 1

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COMPOSERS: Billy Mayerl
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Mayerl: Piano Music, Vol. 1
WORKS: Piano Music, Vol. 1: Autumn Crocus; Wisteria; Evening Primrose; Aquarium Suite; Puppets Suite; Three Contrasts
PERFORMER: Philip Martin (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMM0124

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This is the first volume in a series in which the sequels cannot arrive too soon. The principle joy resides in Billy Mayerl’s music – British piano pieces that are syncopated and melodious, crafted with the brand of genius that hides complex rhythms and harmonies behind a seemingly easy flow of notes. Gershwin boasted a similar skill, and you hear him sometimes at Mayerl’s shoulder. But Mayerl’s sprightliness is his alone, and pianist Philip Martin (he is joy number two) leaps through the repertoire with clean and infectious élan, sweetly captured in Somm’s warm recording.

Marigold, Mayerl’s biggest hit, bobs its merry head; Railroad Rhythms rattles at breakneck speed; the Puppets Suite prances and dazzles; Autumn Crocus is all lazy charm. Others from the 1920s and ’30s may be less familiar, such as the Aquarium Suite (not very aquatic, really), the strutting Robots, or the weaker Three Contrasts. But even ordinary Mayerl is a delight, especially with Martin playing.

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Geoff Brown