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Cat. No. CHAN 10324(3) X Price: £11.2 No. of discs: 3
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CHAN 10324 - Mayerl: The Piano Music of Billy Mayerl
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Available From: 15 June 2005
Mayerl’s playing reached a vast audience in solo spots during broadcasts by the Savoy Havana Band in the early twenties and it was so popular that there were demands from both amateurs and professionals for instruction in fashionable modern syncopation. In 1926, therefore, Mayerl left the Savoy and opened the Billy Mayerl School of Music which flourished until the Second World War. His recordings are now classics, astonishing as live performances in the days when 78s did not allow for the editing assumed today. But Eric Parkin comes as close as anyone to the style, and his experience as a performer of both classical and popular music goes back to the time when Mayerl was still alive.

Mayerl was swept up in an endless round of touring shows, music halls and broadcasts, which never gave him time to record more than a small proportion of his output which totalled some 300 separate pieces apart from eighteen studies and over 120 transcriptions. Almost half of the latter were done for teaching purposes and appeared in the Billy Mayerl Club Magazine, which clocked up more than 2000 member subscribers between 1934 and 1939. They are ingenious recreations of popular songs in Mayerl’s own personal piano style. Mayerl also wrote scores for several frothy West End musical comedies in the 1930s, including many successful songs. There are also orchestral pieces, not all scored by Mayerl, which confirm his place somewhere between the English pastoral tradition and the Ealing studio film music of the period. During his lifetime there were distinctions between dance music, jazz, light music and the classical scene, which his work confusingly overlapped. Now crossover is legitimate; Mayerl has been taken up by a variety of pianists, usually classical, not all of whom can cope with this technical demands; and at last his delightful music is recognised and accepted on its own terms.

Three disc of music by the so-called English Scott Joplin may seem too much of a good thing. Yet Parkin effects the maximum variety throughout these delightful miniatures, with spontaneity and sheer joie-de-vivre always present.
BBC Music Magazine


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