Parvum Organum

Donald Berman, piano

For years I’ve been decrying Sony for not re-issuing the only collection of the complete music of Carl Ruggles (a 2-LP set I treasure which features performances by Michael Tilson Thomas and others). But now I find out that set is not complete after all! It turns out that although Ruggles only officially acknowledged seven compositions, he wrote tons of others and thanks to pianist Donald Berman, who has sifted through Ruggles’s unpublished manuscripts, some of this lost music is finally coming to light. While it’s a thrill to hear Visions, which might have been an additional fifth movement to his solo piano masterpiece Evocations, my favorite is Parvum Organum. Must be all those glorious parallel fifths!

Ironically, thanks to New World Records and the vagaries of the commercial recording industry, the works Ruggles acknowledged are still not all available, but at least the ones he hid away in the drawer now are!

—FJO