Ramey: Piano Music, Volume 1
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Phillip Ramey: Piano Music, Volume One, 1961–2003

Catalogue Number: TOCC0029
EAN: 5060113440297
Release Date: 1 May 2006
Duration: 77:41

Recorded under the supervision of the composer

Color Etudes
Memorial (In Memoriam Alexander Tcherepnin)
Chromatic Waltz
Piano Sonata No. 1
Piano Sonata No. 2
Piano Sonata No. 5 (For the Left Hand)
Piano Fantasy
Four Tangier Portraits
Toccata No. 2

Stephen Gosling, piano

The piano music of American composer Phillip Ramey (b. 1939) has its roots in the motoric athleticism of Prokofiev and Bartók, refracted through the wiry and elegant polyphony of his teacher, Alexander Tcherepnin. To these early influences Ramey has brought the tangy dissonance of mainstream modernism and a Lisztian enjoyment of the grand Romantic gesture. The works on this CD range in mood from tranquil introspection by way of sober lyricism to thunderous explosions of demonic energy expressed in high-octane piano-writing that pushes virtuosity to the limit.

Booklet texts   (PDF)

Track Listing, MP3 Downloads and Streaming Samples

Track No. Track Title / Details Duration Sample Add to Cart
1-9 Color Etudes (1994)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
1 Purple (Andante liturgico) 2:35 play
2 Green (Allegro Moderato) 1:14 play
3 Maroon (Adagio) 2:16 play
4 Orange (Allegro Moderato) 0:58 play
5 Red (Moderato) 2:32 play
6 Gold (Allegro) 1:35 play
7 Blue (Larghetto; Scherzando) 2:45 play
8 Silver (Allegro Scherzando) 1:36 play
9 Black (Allegro) 1:15 play
10 Memorial (In Memoriam Alexander Tcherepnin) (1977)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
5:52 play
11 Chromatic Waltz (1993)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
1:36 play
12-14 Piano Sonata No. 1 (1961)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
12 I. Allegro Marcato 2:24 play
13 II. Adagio 2:59 play
14 III. Allegro vivace 2:20 play
15-17 Piano Sonata No. 2 (1966; rev. 2003)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
15 I. Moderato 3:55 play
16 II. Largo; 1:20 play
17 (II) Allegro con Brio; Lento 7:41 play
18 Piano Sonata No. 5 (For the Left Hand) (1989)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
10:27 play
19 Piano Fantasy (1969-72)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano
10:07 play
20-23 Four Tangier Portraits (1991-99)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
20 Paul Bowles: At Eighty 1:21 play
21 Cherie Nutting: Elf in Kasbah 1:01 play
22 Philip Krone: Plotting a Strategy 2:04 play
23 Phillip Ramey: Dire Thoughts Beneath the Sweltering Sky 3:41 play
24 Toccata No. 2 (1990)

Phillip Ramey, composer
Stephen Gosling, piano

(first recording)
4:07 play


Phillip Ramey

Phillip Ramey, composer

Stephen Gosling

Stephen Gosling, piano
[credit: Phillip Ramey]


Impressive Authority

Anthony Davie Music & Vision 10th February 2008


Jens Laurson Classical WETA 13th January 2008


Gary Higginson MusicWeb International June 2006

<>Most of the material on this CD is recorded for the first time – and it shows Ramey to have been a composer with the strongest of identities and a consistency throughout his career.

Ramey is modernist in the conventionally understood sense – rhythmical pulse is its single most important element, cloaking powerfully expressive melodic motifs. His work is self-evidently post-Romantic, and pays homage to the piano tradition – the Toccata reminiscent of Schumann, or the finale of Sonata 1 has allusions to Pour le piano and Children’s Corner. As the notes suggest, a strong structural awareness and harmonic interest pervade Ramey’s work and give the sense of a powerful cerebrally inclined, severe imagination.

But Ramey does not write without charm; indeed, the Color Etudes that open the disc are arguably the highlight of the whole CD, notably the melodic invention of Gold, and the pointillistic energy of Green. Elsewhere, the personal element in Ramey’s composition is very evident - the Tangier Portraits include one of Ramey’s friend Paul Bowles, also a composer, but far better known as the author of The Sheltering Sky, and a trenchant picture of Ramey himself. Ramey’s friend and teacher Tcherepnin, is commemorated by Memorial.

Gosling takes on the challenge of this music head-on. He is unashamedly virtuosic, precise in technique, his musicality well-crafted. He deals effortlessly, for example, with the difficult textures of the left-hand sonata. Yet, his playing is most convincing in lyrical and reflective moments – the affectionate, musette-like portrayal of ‘Bowles at 80’ and the brief, tinkling Chromatic Waltz, the understanding sensitivity with which he plays Memorial, the elegiac Red and the liturgical Purple. Elsewhere, as at the start of Silver, in Black or in the Sonata 2 finale, the abruptness of his attack can become too relentless for comfort.

The recording is close and at times almost overpowering, not unacceptable for such direct repertoire. Good notes and presentation, although unfortunate that Gosling’s picture is placed inside the inlay tray in such a way that the central spike holding in the CD itself exactly obscures his nose. Overall, a disc of very great interest.

Ying Chang Musical Pointers

Philip Ramey is familiar to music lovers for his program annotations (most notably for the New York Philharmonic) and his extensive interviews with composers. He is also a prodigious composer. As this brilliantly played and recorded program illustrates, he writes effectively for the piano. Most of these etudes, waltzes, sonatas, portraits, and fantasies are sombre in mood, grand in gesture, and virtuosi in technique. Polyphonic textures are a legacy of his teacher Alexander Tcherepnin, whose 1977 memorial for piano is one of the most atmospheric pieces on this album. The earlier pieces such as Sonata 1 from 1961 have a Prokofieff-like tang to crunch; the later ones such as Colour Etudes from 1994 and the Four Tangier Portraits from 1991-99 tend to be more meditative and lyrical, though Ramey is much too tough-minded to succumb to the neoromanticism of the moment.

Stephen Gosling is a strong executant of all these works. It’s a harrowing assignment given the stringent technical demands. He plays the quite pieces with majestic serenity and wallops the hell out of the more extroverted ones, such as the final toccata. As someone who has been influenced by Ramey’s writing since I was a child, I find that his music is even stronger that his prose.

Sullivan American Record Guide


Colin Anderson Classical Source


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