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BLUE MONDAY - A One-Act 'Jazz' Opera (1922) -George Gershwin-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $45.00
Probably more people have experienced George Gershwin's early attempt at "serious" music via ARTCRAFT Music Rolls than have heard this obscure masterpiece performed 'live' with an orchestra and vocalists. BLUE MONDAY was given only a couple of times as a 'skit' in George White's Scandals and later by Paul Whiteman at Carnegie Hall, with a rewrite by Ferde Grofé under the title of 135th STREET. This long-playing roll - almost a ¼ hour in playing time - is a showcase for Gershwin's early talents ... and ... even features melodic motifs and musical lines that appeared in later works, such as RHAPSODY IN BLUE, THREE PRELUDES for Piano and his second, larger-scale attempt at a 'Negro opera': PORGY and BESS.
Your Duo-Art expression player will shift every few measures with a new rhythm or musical style. BLUE MONDAY features Gershwin's earlier string quartette study, called LULLABYE, as an aria entitled "Has Anyone Here Seen Joe?" and a quasi-'mammy' song called "I'm Going To See My Mother" ... plus the haunting "Blue Monday Blues"- the Harlem bartender's number - reprised with variations throughout the action-packed program music.
This superlative ARTCRAFT Roll is based upon the Warner Bros. piano score by Alicia Zizzo, who combined musical snippets from several sources to create a virtuoso piano solo. Upon hearing tapes of the ARTCRAFT Steinway 'AR' playing BLUE MONDAY, she wrote "Your arrangement has come closer to the atmosphere of jazz and vaudeville than any virtuoso pianist could achieve with a Steinway 'D' grand upon the concert stage!" [Link to the 88-Note edition]
BRAZILIAN SUITE - Gaucho, Amena Resada, Odéon-C. Gongaza & Ernesto Nazareth-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $26.00
One of the most popular rolls, especially for demonstrating the Themodist (solo) system of the Aeolian expression system, is the ARTCRAFT long-playing roll BRAZILIAN SUITE. The roll was performed with great success at the Arcady Music Festival series, based in Bar Harbor, Maine ... and most recently at the Piano Technicians Guild conventions by Herbert Lindahl, Jr., who has taken a rare 1915 Steinway Duo-Art grand piano on-the-road, drawing crowds of applauding piano tuners whenever this ARTCRAFT Roll is played.
The first number, written by Brazil's leading woman composer Conchita Gonzaga, is Gaucho - a selection which was "banned" by the authorities for many years. (It's still erotic-sounding today, in its instrumental form!) The second and third compositions were written by Ernesto Nazareth, the syncopated pianist who wrote many pieces for use in the "Odéon" theatre in Rio di Janeiro, where he accompanied silent motion pictures - influencing both Villa-Lobos and Milhaud with his 'carioca' street music rhythms. Nazareth's infectious music has only recently been discovered in North America, and has been compared to the classic Ragtime of Scott Joplin, who lived about the same period of time.
BY STRAUSS - from The Show Is On (1936) -George Gershwin-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $24.50
George Gershwin once "improvised" a parody of Johann Strauss waltzes - laced with Art Deco 'moderne' chord patterns - at a Manhattan, New York party which included Vincente Minnelli, who was in the stages of producing a multi-composer revue entitled The Show Is On. The Gershwin brothers were about to depart for Hollywood to score a series of RKO Radio Pictures with Fred Astaire, but took up the option and penned a complete song version for the Broadway show - completing the task in just a day or two! BY STRAUSS was a bit too sophisticated for the audiences of the time and a Hoagy Carmichael number from the Minnelli production enjoyed moderate popularity that season. Years later, when filming the Gene Kelly musical for M-G-M, Minnelli dusted off the Gershwin spoof of Strauss music and included it in his lavish movie An American In Paris. This ARTCRAFT Roll is a speculation arrangement, based upon the Gershwin 'style' at the piano keyboard ... and is not to be compared with the toned-down 1950's film version (or the absolutely lackluster original Duo-Art version by Aeolian in the '30s....a boring graph-paper arrangement).
The Gershwin enthusiast is treated to a cascade of trick staccato effects, a REAL Viennese lilt and a pair of trills that will turn all heads when they are executed by the expression player action. These are "pseudo Welte-Mignon" (expression player) technical feats: #1 and #2, the latter of which is a showy and extended example of a virtuoso trill; at the time the roll was being arranged, a self-styled Welte-'windbag' was ranting on in one of the player club publications about the Duo-Art having no crescendo system. As any astounded listener will experience, when hearing this version of BY STRAUSS, the Aeolian player didn't need a crescendo mechanism! The trills are "all-but-human" and make full use of the 'solo' system, the hammer rail lift and creative interplay between the Accompaniment and the Theme perforations.
BY STRAUSS has received tumultuous applause in the concert hall on many occasions, and it will delight anyone who enjoys Gershwin's music performed with that special panache apparent in his distinctive audio recordings. Try a copy and see! This is an one of the many celebrated rolls in the ARTCRAFT library of musical offerings, a must for any library. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
CANTATA #147: Chorale (Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring) Two-Piano arrangement by Myra Hess -J. S. Bach-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $22.50
This familiar Bach selection is offered in a rare 1935 transcription by Myra Hess, arranged for duo-pianists. The reason why one seldom experiences a "live" presentation of this version is due to the subtle complexity required for the two keyboard musicians. Her arrangement demands that the two pianists "dovetail" their playing, so that many large chords strike as ONE much of the time ... a difficult feat when executing the contrapuntal music of Johann Bach! While most Two-Piano scores have one pianist taking the lead and the two artists rallying at certain measures should there be a synchronization problem, this version of CANTATA #147: Chorale gives the listener that 'smooth and flowing' tonality that the music requires ... but provides no such "safety net" for the keyboard performers. The Pianola is well-suited for this edition, and the Duo-Art interpretation brings the melody out of the rippling harmony through the magic of the Themodist (solo) accent system.
If your Duo-Art has properly-voiced hammers and is regulated to play with subtle pianissimo effects, the contrast between the "forte" passages and the muted sections will be a memorable experience. Here's your opportunity to enjoy a familiar Bach composition which takes full advantage of the Player-Piano's technique and precisioned striking effects.
CHESTER The CAT - One-Step [Illustrated] -Ian Whitcomb-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.50
One of the most-popular releases by ARTCRAFT, this roll represents the second of three collaborations with the talented composer-entertainer (and all-around 'personality') Ian Whitcomb. CHESTER The CAT is a delightful and bouncy number based upon a real feline, featuring also his dog "Inspector" - the latter a gift from crooner Rudy Vallee, when still a pup. Naturally, this chemistry leads to a musical confrontation, complete with growls, meows and the ultimate victory for "Chester", who then lapses into a lullabye. CHESTER The CAT is a homage to old compositions of the animal One-Step genre, namely "Whistler and His Dog" and "Teddy Bears' Picnic" - but it's a thoroughly original work, packed with imaginative melodic twists and sparkling staccato passages. The Player-Piano is used to its fullest here, and the arrangement abounds with sound-effects seamlessly woven into the musical performance.
Photographs of the real dog and cat, both recently deceased, were used for the large illustration stamps which appear on the roll. Some of the dialogue printed on the roll came from the Composer's special demonstration tape, sent to The ARTCRAFT Studio. CHESTER The CAT was the 'hit' of the Niantic Ragtime Festival in Connecticut, a few years ago, and has been a success in concert performances again and again. The audience can just "see" in their mind's eye all the action inherent in the musical story. This is the roll to play when guests arrive, especially if accompanied by children. [Link to the 88-Note editon]
THE CHICAGO MARCH (1909) [Illustrated] -Sawyer-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
This is no ordinary "march roll" for Player-Piano. It's one of the most spectacular Pianola extravaganzas ever to be created in The ARTCRAFT Studio, an audio-visual experience in the true sense of the term!
THE CHICAGO MARCH is yet another one of those perforated arrangements which features music "rediscovered" by Ohio piano technician - and Pianolist - Robin Pratt. In this case, he suggested that the vivacious march be arranged for a 1990 player club convention in Chicago, and be created to demonstrate THE FULL SPECTRUM of what a pneumatic player action can do, when stripped of its familiar role of imitating keyboard artists and/or playing back 'droning' sheet music transfers. Moreover, the number was designed to rivet the attention of a large, seated audience, for the Pianola was to be demonstrated in a concert hall situation. This called for variations galore, and ones that could only be executed through the medium of the perforated roll.
To "top" the event, it was decided to make THE CHICAGO MARCH another in the series of ILLUSTRATED music rolls which have become, in recent years, one of the hallmarks of ARTCRAFT supremacy. The Great Chicago Fire was to be interpolated into the middle of the Trio, complete with Mrs. O'Leary's cow, "moo" effects, a crashing oil lamp and a subsequent conflagration -- all set to music and synchronized with imprinted illustrations. Then, to make this roll a genuine 'crowd-pleaser' the Chicago fire would be represented by E. T. Paull's celebrated BURNING OF ROME March, only presented as the calm-before-the-storm ... which reprised the Trio in the finale as a six-hand keyboard performance! For those astute listeners, a few strains of CHICAGO (That Toddling Town) can be heard as the Roman walls crash down. If this text seems like outrageous hyperbole, it is NOT! THE CHICAGO MARCH remains one of the most spirited, dramatic, exciting - and visual! - music rolls ever released. In fact, it was just presented at the 1997 Sandusky, Ohio AMICA player club convention by Pianolist-and-host Robin Pratt! (QRS arranger Hi Babbit was in the audience and exclaimed to the crowd, "That's the BURNING OF ROME and Chicago!!" while laughing heartily.)
Ironically, the real City of Chicago was having a "flood" (in 1990) at the time this roll was being prepared in Maine!
If you perform Duo-Art rolls for visiting guests, THE CHICAGO MARCH will captivate your home audiences every time. Order it and experience the musical magic! You'll never prejudge "march roll" arrangements again after hearing this piece, which - by the way - even quotes from Liszt's SECOND HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY, the work of 1909 musician Sawyer, who does not give the legendary Hungarian composer his due credit [as we are doing right now]. Buy this roll! [Link to the 88-Note edition]
CHOPINATA - Fox Trot Fantasie (1927) -Clément Doucet-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - -$25.00
This was one of the first "transcontinental collaborations" between ARTCRAFT Music Rolls and builder of NEW Duo-Art instruments, Douglas Heffer in Paris, France. The roll is a virtuoso presentation - in 1920's Fox Trot form - of Chopin's music, specifically the POSTHUMOUS WALTZ, POLONAISE MILITAIRE and FANTASIE IMPROMPTU ("I'm Always Chasing Rainbows") ... and the ARTCRAFT arrangement is closely-patterned after tapes of the original French 78 r.p.m. records by the composer-pianist, Clément Doucet. (Doucet was part of a celebrated European duo-pianist team, Doucet & Wiener ... the foreign equivalent of Arden & Ohman, as it were. In fact, Doucet & Wiener even performed for George Gershwin and his party in the 'Twenties, when they visited Paris.)
Monsieur Heffer also sent along the phony "played by Doucet" French 'Pleyela' roll, but this erratic, mathematical arrangement was NOTHING like the audio recordings made by the famous pianist, in solo or as part of the sparkling duo. CHOPINATA was but one of a series of "classical Fox Trot transcriptions" created by the prolific Clément Doucet, and future ARTCRAFT releases will present some more of his toe-tapping homages to Liszt, Wagner and other noted composers.
This Duo-Art roll features the wide dynamic swings which were characteristic of the artist on his European audio recordings: staccato pianissimo passages alternating with thundering forte variations (and syncopated surprises!). Unlike some of the American attempts to combine the popular music idiom with classical music - including the 3/4 Waltz rhythm in 2/4 time! - the Doucet arrangement, as perforated by ARTCRAFT, retains the musical dignity of the original Chopin scores while at the same time providing the listener with cascades of imaginative chords and trick effects. This is is a delicate aesthetic balance, but in the case of Doucet - it works!
Don't deny your "reproducing" piano the opportunity to perform one of the most imaginative rolls ever released. You will treasure CHOPINATA in the same manner that you relish the piano solos in their original form, by Fréderic Chopin. At the same time, your player action will explore a galaxy of syncopated musical effects, sure to please any listener. CHOPINATA has been played with great success in the concert hall by the arranger, Mr. Henderson, most recently in 88-Note form at the Arcady Festival series in Bar Harbor, Maine (featuring his 1929 'Reprotone' travelling upright). This roll is a "must" for any library. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
ELLINGTON MEDLEY: Mood Indigo (1931) and Sophisticated Lady (1933) -Duke Ellington-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
If ever there were a music roll arrangement which demonstrated the absolutely supremacy of the Interpretive Arranging Process, this might possibly be the definitive music roll. While no artist ever approached the keyboard for this "all-but-human" Ellington medley, the phrasing, subtle dynamics, improvisations and the 'fade-out' rubato endings are pianistic effects which which challenge the most accomplished keyboard artist. In fact, a number of professional organists and performing pianists have cited this ARTCRAFT arrangement of Ellington's music as their absolute favourite player roll. If you have experienced the ELLINGTON MEDLEY, then you already know why it has received so much unsolicited acclaim.
The phrased Duo-Art roll begins with a few simple notes and chords, as if a melancholy pianist were 'fiddling around' on the keyboard, lost in deep depression. From these initial strains, the captivating Ellington masterpiece MOOD INDIGO arises, slowly building with variations into a vibrant Fox Trot presentation. Then, the music slows and softens, leading the listener into SOPHISTICATED LADY, a 1933 virtuoso piano solo by the renown composer. The ARTCRAFT arrangement even presents variations featuring staccato treble effects "offset by approximately a 128th of a note"; these create an aura which the finest pianist could never duplicate. As the music returns to the centre of the keyboard, the staccato breaks are "lined up" with the melody, and the expanded musical elegance begins to 'disappear' ... all through the calculated striking effects inherent in this Interpretive Arrangement.
The roll concludes with a return to MOOD INDIGO and the wispy melancholy which permeated the opening of the medley a number of minutes earlier. The final notes of the Coda experiment with the softer intensities of the Duo-Art expression system, combined with sensitive phrasing.
It should be noted that the sustaining pedal effects on MOOD INDIGO, especially, received Mr. Henderson's greatest attention during the arranging process, which allows for "instant replay" during the initial perforating steps. Juxtaposing sostenuto chords with the 'generalized' pneumatic sustaining pedal perforations - all marked during the actual "PLAY" of the Master Roll - allowed the building-in of the smoothest melodic line one could imagine, yet with a perfectly-defined octave bass beat. At times the sustaining pedal is almost "invisible" since the melody appears to "flow" without any blurring.
You owe it to yourself to include the celebrated ELLINGTON MEDLEY in your roll collection, for it will charm any musician - and will win the admiration of those pianists who heretofore never cared for "sensitive" music on a pneumatic player instrument. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
FANFARE for ORGAN -Nicholas Lemmens-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $20.50
Here is a "gem" of a roll, one that will command the attention of all listeners and fascinate those who enjoy piano transcriptions of pipe organ music. This rousing version of the Belgian composer's FANFARE for ORGAN takes on a new dimension when brought to the Pianola by ARTCRAFT Music Rolls, however, for it makes use of the special attributes characteristic of the pneumatic player action.
The typical music roll merely transfers the "time values" of the organ sheet music to the piano keyboard, giving the audience nothing more than a colourless, muddy reflection of the selection, when compared to a performance on the original instrument. Other old commercial rolls, especially the "played by Busoni" organ transcriptions for piano, come across as erratic and blurred to the listener, primarily due to the fact that piano technique now replaces the approach of the keyboard organist.
The ARTCRAFT procedure was to truncate, ever so slightly, the perforated key depression times but 'balance' these with the use of a "timed" automatic sustaining pedal score which begins - in most case - JUST BEFORE - the chords, and then ends shortly after the piano hammers are struck. This is completely out-of-synch with the way a keyboard pianist would use the foot pedal, of course! The result is an imitation of "pipe organ ambience" - that developing, reflected sound which makes the instrument so magnificent to hear. None of the dry or muddy effects so typical of the usual organ music transcriptions for Player-Piano exist on this sparkling arrangement of Lemmens' FANFARE for ORGAN. You experience the majesty and power of the work, as if it were being played on an immense pipe organ by a virtuoso artist.
Thousands of people in Maine hear FANFARE for ORGAN every month, when tuning-in the statewide cable television program presented by the Democratic Party. Roger Baffer of Woolwich, Maine - owner of a fine 1931 Stroud Duo-Art grand piano - elected to record his copy of this roll for the titles and closing credits, so the commanding "fanfare music" is heard - instead of Händel, Telemann, Vivaldi or Pachelbel - whenever the half-hour interview program is being videotaped.
Start your next home musicale with FANFARE for ORGAN and watch the audience be riveted to your Duo-Art player!
FATA-MORGANA (Mirage) - Austrian Tone Poem -Ferdinand Lang-
Arranged for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $22.50
Ferdinand Lang lived in Gmunden am Traunsee, in the Salzkammergut Region of Austria ... a politician, composer and a lifelong friend of Marguerite Volavy (a name well-known to collectors of music rolls, especially those under the 'Rythmodik', 'Apollo-Artecho' and 'Ampico' labels). (He was also the grandfather of Danilo Konvalinka, who co-founded The Musical Wonder House [Music Museum] in Wiscasset, Maine with his wife Lois Konvalinka and L. Douglas Henderson, back in 1963.)FATA-MORGANA is a fascinating late-Victorian piano solo, shifting from one style to another and never quite "standing still", as the title implies.
Technical trills rival with an Austrian ländler (featuring a genuine Viennese 'lilt') ... Bizet-like melodies vie with hammer-klavier effects, but only for a few moments, before the music returns to an earlier rhythm and style. One of the most intriguing parts of this Austrian number is the finale, which "fades into the ether". Quite literally, the Duo-Art shifts from a forte (loud) tone to a rapid diminuendo, ending with the final chords barely rippling the keys - a ghost-like Pianola effect if ever there were one! (Note: the ever-changing barometric pressure, the regulation of your expression system and the state of the piano hammers will cause this Coda to vary somewhat - from day to day, and piano to piano - but this only adds to the mystery and surprise with every performance! "What will the Duo-Art do when the music fades away?"
Piano technicians have used FATA-MORGANA to demonstrate the completed Duo-Art instrument, and for good reason. Few rolls have such vibrant trills or wide dynamic swings as this ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangement.FATA-MORGANA is one of those music rolls which you will play again and again, always hearing "something new" in the musical score and the Duo-Art semi-automatic expression. This selection is recommended for all Pianola occasions. Try a copy and see!
FLIGHT of The BUMBLE BEE and BUMBLE BOOGIE -Rimsky-Korsakov-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
Two pieces of music are paired for this Interpretive Arrangement ... the original piano solo as written by the Russian composer and then a "boogie-woogie" variation, inspired by Jack Fina, the whirlwind pianist who used to appear with Freddy Martin's Orchestra in the 'Forties.
FLIGHT of The BUMBLE BEE, originally written for an obscure Rimsky-Korsakov opera, has become a tour-de-force for virtuoso musicians, not only pyrotechnical pianists but also trombonists, flutists and anyone else who can maintain a precise and highspeed "chromatic" playing ability. Sadly, this popular number has been a major disappointment for music roll collectors until this ARTCRAFT arrangement was released in the mid-'Eighties. Some of the old editions, such as the J. Lawrence Cook version for QRS, were what Mr. Henderson calls, "tear-on-the-dotted-line" sheet music transfers; these rolls had no sparkle and just depressed piano keys as if an automatic organ were being played. Others, exemplified by the FAKE-Rachmaninoff edition for the Ampico 'reproducing' piano, were jerky and unsatisfying; if you compare the "played by Rachaminoff release" on Ampico with the Cassette version published by the Musical Heritage Society, then you'll realize what a total travesty the expression player version really was! (It's worth the $9.95 to hear Rachmaninoff on audio via a modern MHS tape of the original 78's, performing with crisp technique the same material offered to music roll customers in the 'Twenties. The word "rip-off" easily comes to mind, when one considers the cost of a Mason & Hamlin or Wm. Knabe instrument back then!) The ARTCRAFT arrangement of the venerable "bee music" stands alone and without a peer in the perforated music field.
Just when your audience expected to hear the Duo-Art launch its "clunky-sounding" automatic reroll operation, the instrument begins anew - following a short pause. It's the fantastic BUMBLE BOOGIE, more complicated than the Rimsky-Korsakov piano solo ... and with trick accents galore! There is nothing to compare with the second number on this popular expression roll, for it pleases everyone. The arrangement has "brought the house down" on Pianola concerts (of 300 people or more) with the arranger at his 1929 Story & Clark 'Reprotone', and the roll itself receives unsolicited kudos from collectors worldwide, most recently from Steinway Duo-Art owner Richard Lazar who sent an E-Mail letter to The ARTCRAFT Studio (on 8-18-97) saying, "My sons and I still think your "Bumble Boogie" is one of the BEST rolls we have." In Spring of the same year, piano technician Herbert Lindahl, Jr. presented the roll at a PTG convention in Portland, Maine ... and in just a few seconds his 1915 Steinway 'XR' grand had attracted a crowd of enthusiastic tuners, who then applauded the instrument during the rerolling process.
Your music roll library is not complete without a copy of this acclaimed roll as part of its nucleus. Experience the musical magic of the 2 "bumble bee" numbers in your own home!
FOR KANSAS CITY - A Ragtime Rhapsody -David Thomas Roberts-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
David Thomas Roberts, often called D.T.R. in the cotemporary Ragtime scene, has written many unusual and often haunting pieces of music. His compositions are frequently labeled as "folk-rags" for want a better term, and they usually blend complexity with simpler musical forms; many are very difficult to play, especially since one of his trademarks in notation is to write down 'how long' each key should be depressed ... and this is based upon his own fantastic keyboard technique. Fans of ARTCRAFT Rolls already know the talented composer from the popular 88-Note Interpretive Arrangement, ROBERTO CLEMENTE - a musical tribute to the famous baseball player, combining Latin rhythmic elements with tragic tonality and a 'heroic' Coda which draws from the resources of the pneumatic Player-Piano.
FOR KANSAS CITY is a long-playing Duo-Art roll which answers the question, "What happens when one combines the syncopation and melodic form of Scott Joplin's early Ragtime with the musical structure of a Romantic like Robert Schumann?" The answer is, of course, a distinctive D.T.R. tour-de-force - written as a commissioned work for a patron in K.C. (the City).
From the first few chords and riffs, you will instantly recognize this as a David Roberts composition, but ... if you are familiar with his audio recordings, your Duo-Art player will "simulate" the KEYBOARD ATTACK, pedal shadings and dynamics of the composer in 'live performance'. Interpretive Arranging at The ARTCRAFT Studio is based upon a measure-by-measure analysis of striking effects, using open reel and Cassette tape recorders, which gave the arranger the "technical/musical information" needed to suggest the composer's presence in the perforated roll. FOR KANSAS CITY is uncanny in its ability to bring the aura of D.T.R. to the pneumatic Pianola.
Since the Schuman influence is present in this complicated and intriguing piano solo, the listener never hears the flowing music "exactly the same" whenever a motif or melody is reprised. From the first measure, one is pulled through the entire performance, experiencing powerful accents and subtle tonalities; the Coda uses a few more notes that would be possible by the keyboard pianist, but these are necessary to suggest the "power" which is the essence of the syncopated composition. When the composer first heard a tape of the Master Roll, he exclaimed, "You have captured about 95% of my musical ideas" - a pretty good record since the old commercial 'hand-played' rolls never sounded like the artist's 78 r.p.m. discs, in spite of the piano advertising claims!
ARTCRAFT has always been a leader in the field of modern compositions, and FOR KANSAS CITY is no exception. The Master Roll was perforated from the original handwritten score, which David Roberts accidentally left upon the piano of an ARTCRAFT customer in the St. Louis area. (Del Sewell, the D.T.R. enthusiast - of St. Peters, MO - then sent a Xerox™ of the manuscript to Maine, before returning the 'forgotten music' to the composer. This was the beginning of the music roll project.) Only very recently has FOR KANSAS CITY been published in sheet music form. Duo-Art owners have already had the privilege of enjoying D.T.R.'s "ragtime rhapsody" on their instruments for a number of years!
We repeat: This roll sounds so "human" that it's hard to believe that the composer is not playing upon your own piano. ("Ditto" for our earlier release of ROBERTO CLEMENTE, since the "striking" - as dictated by the perforations - is the KEY to simulating a particular pianist's keyboard attack! Homogeneous perforations, the curse of commercial rolls, could never accomplish the musical feat of imitating the Art of David T. Roberts!)
GOING TO PIECES One-Step (1915) -Karl Kaffer-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
Robin Pratt, sheet music scout extraordinaire (and the piano technician who discovered-and-rebuilt ARTCRAFT's REPROTONE travelling Player-Piano - a '29 Story & Clark instrument) is to be credited with the idea for this hilarious music roll. GOING TO PIECES is really "Two-Rolls-in-One" ... Part I is a full-length Pianola Arrangement of this 'Teens piano novelty, with many imaginative variations, and Part II is a homage to those amateur no-talent pianists who slaughter syncopated music on the keyboard. (Note: If you only wish to play Part I as a piano solo, you can rewind at that point and your enchanted listeners will be none-the-wiser about the scathing musical indictment of horrible keyboard pianists? which will follow. This long-playing roll has been designed to have an "ending", should the performer wish to play just the first section.)
What makes Part I such a fascinating roll is the "OFF-CENTRE Medley", upon which many complicated Pianola variations are built. GOING TO PIECES is a Castle House dance number, but with a difference: the captivating melodic line is completely out-of-synch with the rigid and 'driving' accompaniment! So caught up in the period atmosphere was Mr. Henderson, that one variation after another was created, all examples of the technical feats which only a Player-Piano could accomplish.
Part II begins after a short pause, giving the listener the option to continue or reroll a 'completed' performance ... but what follows next is like nothing you've ever heard before on a Player-Piano! The pneumatic player does a "take-off" on those obnoxious pianists who think they can "play anything" without practice - and then bash their way through a horrid performance attempt! To make the Duo-Art instrument sound like one of these disgusting keyboard pianists, Cassette tapes of one such individual were studied and analyzed, in order to perforate the exact style of sloppy rhythm, tasteless sustaining pedal effects and the cascades of "grazed-notes" and "clinkers". Ragtime music roll customers from the West Coast provided The ARTCRAFT Studio with recorded examples of awful 'live' piano-playing, and these striking effects were used to perforate this accurate representation of someone who should relinquish the keyboard and let the superior Pianola have centre stage! You won't believe what you are hearing when Part II assults your senses. It's so "bad" it's priceless! This realistic imitation of a human pianist rips his way through a travesty of GOING TO PIECES, followed by snippets of MAPLE LEAF RAG and THE SMILER RAG, leading to a total nervous breakdown - the latter based on sloppy riffs gleaned from live 'concert hall' tape recordings. Part II ends with the collapse of the mythical pianist? and a QRS "Pete Wendling" roll, re-mastered for ARTCRAFT performance standards, completes this memorable performance ... proving once again that a good music roll is superior to a third-rate human pianist.
This roll is a perfect demonstration of the good and bad in piano music ... and Part I presents the virtuoso Pianola at its musical zenith. If you have some know-it-alls who like to put down your Duo-Art, whip out this roll and give them a taste of their own medicine! "I'd rather hear your piano played by HAND" should be the open sesame to launch a performance of GOING TO PIECES One-Step. Side-splitting laughter is guaranteed every time you play this rarity from the 'Teens. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE - 'Fantasie Grotesque' upon the French National Anthem (1989) -Björn Linnman-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $31.50
Here is the most FANTASTIC COMPOSITION for The Player-Piano ever written!
The idea of a wild set of variations based upon THE MARSEILLAISE came from Douglas Heffer (Pneumatique Contemporaine) - the ARTCRAFT Representative in Paris. Shortly before the French Bicentennial, Douglas thought it would be interesting to create a roll which would demonstrate his NEW Duo-Art player instruments, yet which would feature the famous French anthem - destined to be "overworked" during the festival year.
Douglas (in Paris) 'phoned Douglas (in Maine), suggesting the idea of a long-playing set of MARSEILLAISE variations which, while thoroughly original, would combine elements from Rossini, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Ives, Liszt and other composers, with a little Russian gypsy music and some jazz by Art Tatum tossed-in for extra measure.
Nothing came of the concept, for Mr. Henderson considered that the French anthem was "too long" to be handled in so many ways on a SINGLE music roll. Then one day a heavy packet containing a handwritten manuscript arrived, the work of the young and ultra-talented Björn Linnman, who resides in Stockholm, Sweden. Linnman, it seems, had found the perfect solution for the "time length" problem! He broke the anthem into fragments - or leitmotifs - and then twisted and reworked elements of THE MARSEILLAISE into the most complex and imaginative composition one could ever anticipate. There really are no words to describe this "roller-coaster" of a piece, and really the FIRST ONE designed to exploit the striking and technical capabilities of the pneumatic Pianola.
(By contrast, the Player-Piano composers in the Past - such as Stravinsky, Humperdinck, Schaaf and Malapiero, etc. - wrote and "thought" in sheet music terms, mostly exploring large chords struck for their notation time values. Linnman, on the other hand, studied the Pianola's repetition, striking and dynamic attributes, and, with the guidance of Douglas Heffer, then composed a majestic piece of music which made complete use of the pneumatic player action. This modern Pianola piano solo transcends the efforts of prior authors, just from this single, important music aspect!)
While LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE was commissioned for the French Bicentennial, the World Première actually took place at an important concert, as part of Boston's Dinosaur Annex music series. (The avante-garde music group included composer Virgil Thompson among its directors, and has been active for many years in the field of presenting modern compositions.) In Fall of 1989, shortly after the Master Roll was duplicated for Europe, Mr. Henderson was asked by 'Magic Piano' - a Player-Piano presentation business operated by Dave Levin, long known for his "sidewalk" performances in Harvard Square and other Boston locations - to participate in a Dinosaur Annex concert featuring contemporary music rolls. The instrument to be played was a Brewster upright [with a Standard Pneumatic Action], belonging to Peter Neilson, who lived in Mass. at that time - and it was delivered in a horse trailer, since the instrument's owner is also involved with carriage-riding activities!
The Boston music group wanted the music of Conlon Nancarrow to be performed, along with other composers from the 'Teens and 'Twenties who ostensibly "wrote for Pianola". Not being a Nancarrow fan, Mr. Henderson demanded that he bring works by Otto Cesana (composer of the symphonette NEGRO HEAVEN), Hoagy Carmichael, George Gershwin and ... [fanfare!] the brand-new roll of LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE, possibly the "only" composition which was written by a musician who understood the inner-workings of the pneumatic player.
After dispensing with the hum-drum Nancarrow and other "pre-accepted" composers - who did NOT use the elements characteristic of "pneumatic striking", the audience grew more excited as ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangements began to dominate the recital. (Mr. Henderson, it should be noted, arrived with his own alternative programmes - typeset and printed in Maine - in order to 'explain' to the packed audience the significance of each music roll presented that evening.)
By the time LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE was only a ¼ through its performance, one could "feel" the electric energy between the music and the attentive audience. When the thundering chords and wild staccato effects closed the work, with composer Linnman dropping a few notes from Rachmaninoff's PRELUDE in C# MINOR into the closing measures of French national hymn, arranger-interpreter Henderson 'knew' that the applause would surpass anything else on the Pianola programme ... and it did! Many musicians in the audience learned - for the first time - that a Player-Piano had a far greater potential when a) a talented compser who "understood" the mechanism joined forces with b) the Interpretive Arranging process, exclusive with The ARTCRAFT Studio. Heretofore, the commercial roll formulae and sheet music notation were what "held back" progress in the rarified sphere of compositions for the pneumatic Pianola.
The next day, Richard Dyer - the arts critic of The Boston Globe - gave the Pianola portion of the Dinosaur Annex concert his highest review, along with a string quartette by Charles Ives. The other 1980's works were panned, being mostly "electronic burps" and rhythms from water pipes being tapped in some pre-conceived pattern. Naturally, since Nancarrow's music is in that "pre-accepted" plane (along with Warhol, Pollock, the Beatles, Elvis, Hemingway and Picasso - isn't it amazing how these and other celebrity figures always get 'good press' automatically?) there were glowing lines about his compositions in the newspaper critique. However, were there an applause meter present to 'verify' which music delighted that enthralled audience, ALL the rolls would have been Interpretive Arrangements -- with the unquestioned climax being the Pianola extravaganza, LINNMANIA-MARSEILLAISE.
Are you ready for something-beyond-description ... and a crowd-pleaser on every level ... being performed on your Duo-Art? This roll does "EVERYTHING POSSIBLE" on an expression player, from jazz waltzes to the fiery crescendo of gypsy violin music ... and features chromatic passages that defy one's belief. Connecting each wild variation is a muted passage from the famous anthem. Here's your chance to discover the real potential of your Duo-Art player! [Link to the 88-Note edition]
LION TAMER RAG (1913) -Janza-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $25.00
Many ARTCRAFT Rolls are created from the suggestions and/or requests of accomplished musicians. LION TAMER RAG is another in the series of collaborations, this time with the arranger-performer of a virtuoso piano solo edition: Mark Lutton, who resides in New Hampshire.
ARTCRAFT and the talented Mark Lutton crossed paths at the Niantic Ragtime Festival events in Connecticut ... and shortly after that encounter a discussion about LION TAMER RAG began, leading ultimately to this stunning Interpretive Arrangement. Mark provided manuscript information, written suggestions and finally a 'live' audio tape of his performance at an "Old-Time Piano-Playing" competition in Decatur, Illinois - the latter being the inspiration for the perforated roll.
This Duo-Art roll "has it all" - from attention-getting 'vamps' to a highspeed staccato melody (with Pianola variations!), from wild crash effects and 'solo' passages to pseudo LION 'ROARS', which Mark freely admits were adapted from Saint-Saëns' popular CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS!
Mark's fascinating arpeggios and twin-rhythm variations (triplets set against two-beat accompaniment) are presented in this music roll version. The Duo-Art will "vamp 'til ready" at one point and then introduce a tremendous surprise "crash" before tearing into yet another syncopated variation! There are twin simulated 'roar' passages, which demonstrate the Duo-Art crescendo abilities and feature an 'echo' effect for added realism.
Mr. Henderson performed this roll with Masanobu Ikemiya's New York Ragtime Orchestra on a Maine concert circuit, a few years ago, a nightly series of events which began in Bar Harbor. When LION TAMER RAG was performed in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine - in an historic building with fantastic acoustics and an audience of approximately 250 people - the applause at the end was nothing short of deafening. If you haven't heard THIS PARTICULAR VERSION of LION TAMER RAG - based upon Mark Lutton's celebrated adaptation - then you have missed a memorable music experience. Many pleased customers have written to ARTCRAFT, saying that "this is the roll I play for my visitors" - and no wonder! The best one-word adjective for this Interpretive Arrangement is "sizzling". Bring on the lions! [Link to the 88-Note edition]
THE MADAWASKA RAG (1918) -Charles Martin-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $21.50
Not until ARTCRAFT Music Rolls published this rare-rare Ragtime number, did it achieve any level of musical attention. Again, it was the interaction of a musician in Bangor, Maine (a retired pipe-organist) who brought the score to The Studio's attention, after a Pianola performance for an Arcady Festival 'Ragtime' concert. Thus began the perforated arrangement - and the musical "odyssey" - of THE MADAWASKA RAG, written by a Canadian composer years before its publication date ... and surrounded by mystery, just like its haunting melodic line!
The organist was Joël A. Morneault, a relative of the deceased French-Canadian composer. He provided the score for this Ragtime number, and later visited The ARTCRAFT Studio - also bringing along a 'sheet music transfer' QRS roll of THE MADAWASKA RAG! (This was QRS custom roll #195.) The commercial arrangement was so lackluster and droning in its musical effect, even on the (tuned) 7' AR Steinway Duo-Art grand piano, that the music never really had the opportunity to present itsef.
This thin and predictable QRS arrangement became part of a "before-and-after" demonstration of ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arranging versus 'Brand-X' on a popular Cassette tape, and the recording is still in-print today! Played side-by-side, any listener can discern how important the variable-length perforations are, the hallmark of any ARTCRAFT release. By contrast, the formula-arranged roll features the traditional homogeneous note clusters which bore anyone used to hearing lively piano music! [See the description of "The Niantic Ragtime Festival Cassette" by ARTCRAFT for more information about the audio recording of the 2 MADAWASKA RAG music rolls!]
THE MADAWASKA RAG exists on a Turn-of-the-Century handwritten score, in the possession of the original French-Canadian family. This early edition included a prospectus for the possibility of an American company cutting music rolls of the piece, which obviously never happened in the composer's lifetime. Later - at the age of 31 - Charles Martin, like Aeolian arranger-musician Felix Arndt, died in the 'flu epidemic of 1918, a tragic loss ... since he had written other pieces, but only a list of the titles remains today. The Martin family in New Brunswick, Canada published a slightly revised version of THE MADAWASKA RAG ... but ... the same sheet music (with the identical errors existant in the engraved 1918 Canadian score) appears as THE WEEPING WILLOW RAG, issued by the American firm of Vandersloot at the same time!
The composer for the Vandersloot edition (which also used a title shared by an earlier Scott Joplin rag!) is listed as "H. A. Fischler" - and his name is completely unknown to the Martin family. In 1938 a Mrs. Lincoln renewed the copyright for the "Fischler" number. An historical point which parallels this case is that "Harry J. Lincoln" - composer of MIDNIGHT FIRE ALARM MARCH, published by E. T. Paull - later wrote music for the Vandersloot enterprise. It appears that the American number was a plagiarized rip-off, published in the States at the time of Charles Martin's untimely death.
What of the ARTCRAFT Roll of today ... and what will it bring to your Duo-Art piano? Since "Madawaska" is an area encompassing New Brunswick, Northern Maine and Québec (i.e. both Canada and the United States), the arranger sought to preserve the ambience of rustling leaves in the rural landscape ... the honking of Canadian geeese on-the-wing ... and the unspoiled forest atmosphere which, even today, characterizes much of the remote area. The ARTCRAFT version presents a spritely staccato balanced with "impossible-to-play" chords, shifting the dynamics to create a truly memorable syncopated performance. If you enjoy sparkling piano music laced with unexpected accents and effervescent variations, THE MADAWASKA RAG is for you! (And yes, your piano will simulate geese "honks" a bit in the Trio!) [Link to the 88-Note edition]
THE MEADOW LARK - A Ragtime Novelette (1916) -Thomas Pitts-
Arranged for the Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $21.00
Once again it was the combination of a live musical performance and an audio tape of a talented pianist which led to the creation of an important ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangement. This time the year was 1988 and the place was the overwhelming Victorian house on Grove St., in San Francisco, belonging to Richard Reutlinger. In the downstairs ballroom a "theatre orchestra" concert was taking place, under the auspices of a player club convention. The music group was The Chrysanthemum Ragtime Hand, directed by Bruce Vermazen ... and featuring the keyboard artistry of pianist Scott Fogelsong.
After the music had ended - and the arranger had returned to Maine - Bruce began a series of letters to The ARTCRAFT Studio, also sending tapes of Scott playing THE MEADOW LARK and some other equally intriguing piano solos from the 'Teens. (The Chrysanthemum Ragtime Band was an important musical force in San Fransciso CA during the '70s and '80s, and made some DEFINITIVE Cassette/CD recordings, among them "Joy Rag" and "Dancing On The Edge of The World". These are published by Stomp-Off Records and they receive our highest recommendation, being perfect recreations of the "theatre orchestra" style from the Ragtime and 'Castle House' days.) When discussing the possibility of perforating THE MEADOW LARK - in such as way as to capture the 'free tempo' of pianist Fogelsong - Bruce wrote on one occasion, "For Scott, a day without rubato is like a day without sunshine!"
Interpretive Arranging, with its ability to use "any" stepping and striking down to a 128th-of-a-note in key depression time, was the ONLY method which could yield the essence of Fogelsong's subtle, syncopated playing style. There are little "bird effect" figurations in the number, and these are not merely repeated (as would be the case on a commercial roll) but have slightly altered striking and rhythmic effects. The changes might be too delicate for the average person to detect, but their presence rivets the listener and makes the perforated arrangement seem like REAL keyboard piano-playing! Variations and pauses, also calculated to enhance the performance, are an essential element in this ARTCRAFT edition of THE MEADOW LARK. Subsequently, the roll has been performed for audiences of 250-people and more, always with immense success on Player-Piano recitals. The refined striking details, which are cut into the roll to impart the "concept" of Scott Fogelsong at the piano, are the primary reason for the popularity of this gem from the 'Teens.
We could add other information about the composer, Pitts, being a Barbary Coast pianist - and pimp! - but these fascinating elements are better-covered in the jacket notes for the Stomp-Off recordings, written by musical director Bruce Vermazen. (The "tabloid" history on this, and other numbers, is all there - in the descriptive album text! Bruce's extensive research can be read while enjoying the peerless recordings his orchestral ensemble made during their years of creative activity. And, if this sounds like a commercial for the group's Stomp-Off recordings, it is! There aren't enough adjectives to describe the wonderful arrangements and performances which Vermazen's musicians preserved on their series of Stomp-Off audio releases!)
Meanwhile, THE MEADOW LARK, as a music roll, is guaranteed to become one of your favourite ARTCRAFT Duo-Art titles. Its 'invisible' striking/phrasing elements, combined with a superlative expression score, make it a number that will please even the most jaded virtuoso pianist. Your instrument will literally "come alive" when the Themodist (solo) feature pulls-out sustained notes, here and there, and contrasts these with softer staccato syncopated effects - above and below the accented keys - which complete the illusion, in this case, of Scott Fogelsong playing this speciality, live, in your own home. You'll be delighted! [Link to the 88-Note edition]
MERENGUE - Concert Étude for Piano (1990) -Frank French-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $23.50
In this day and age of tight "corporate control" for the entertainment industry, where no-talent groups get assembled, promoted and replaced - about as fast a cloud formations! - one could assume that quality music is no longer being played, let alone written. We live in an era dominated by shopping mall sound systems assaulting us with "weepy-waily" irritating and formless off-key excuses for music ... yet, there are still creative pockets which exist, and the acoustic pianos - as well as the trained singing voices - continue to bring pleasure to those with enough sense-of-discovery to seek out the refinement. There's a whole 'world' of talent "out there", beyond the contrived network of 'big business' and its subterranean musical standards.
Frank French, a composer-pianist who resides in Boulder CO, is the perfect antidote to the sorry trends of contemporary popular music. Not only is he an integral part of the Rocky Mountain Ragtime Festival - and a Gottschalk-Nazareth specialist at the keyboard ... but in recent years he has composed a whole series of complicated pieces, many of which feature Latin-inspired syncopations. Among these is MERENGUE, based upon a melody from Santa Domingo, in the Caribbean. Here is an original composition which challenges the pianist, the piano action and the Pianola ... and which amazes the listener when told that the composition dates from 1990 (and not 1890!).
Frank selected ARTCRAFT Music Rolls for the perforation of MERENGUE, originally intended to be released for the Duo-Art expression player alone. (This piece is so effervescent and hypnotic that an 88-Note version was issued in tandem with this 'reproducing' roll edition, due to the unprecedented demand from the owners of standard pedal-players!) The seductive South American rhythms attracted everyone!
Describing the 'magic' of MERENGUE is not easy, since the primary appeal is the crescendo of Latin 'beats', and the interplay of the right and left hands, no doubt inspired by Frank French's many years of discovering and introducing the music of Ernesto Nazareth to North America. (It is generally conceded in musical circles that Frank almost single-handedly brought the infectious Brazilian music to the American concert hall; if he wasn't the first to play Nazareth's music, he was certainly one of the most effective interpreters of the complex 'carioca' pieces, and a pioneer in presenting them on his programmes.)
MERENGUE opens with an established bass rhythm ... and after the first treble strains are superimposed, one has the feeling of guitars and stringed instruments being played - not unlike some of the melodies penned by Louis Moreau Gottschalk decades earlier. Dynamics play a major roll in Frank French's virtuoso composition, and the Duo-Art is the ideal instrument for this style of performance, due to the Themodist (solo) device ... and the quick shifts it can achieve when tackling crisp staccato melodic lines. The Interpretive Striking reflects the "aura" of the talented composer at the keyboard, and this was achieved through an analysis of his audio recordings, in the ARTCRAFT Studio.
The composer has played MERENGUE - the roll - on one piano while performing upon a second instrument [a piano/Pianola duet], proof that the roll was of such quality that it could be presented in-concert with the artist! Then, in the Summer of '97, Herbert Lindahl - the piano technician who has attended PTG conventions with his Steinway Duo-Art grand piano - had the surprise of his life at the Orlando, FL event, following a performance of this celebrated expression roll. A man walked up to the Duo-Art and said, "I know that piece because I wrote it!"
Have we sparked your curiosity about this wonderful modern composition? Discover MERENGUE for the Duo-Art, and you-too will become a Frank French fan. Pianoforte music of this calibre is to be treasured. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
MEPHISTO WALTZ, No. 1 (Original Version) -Franz Liszt-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas
Metrostyle Duo-Art arrangement
When was the last time you heard Liszt's extravaganza piano solo, MEPHISTO WALTZ, on your own piano ... and performed by a virtuoso keyboard artist? The answer is probably, "Never!" - since this is certainly the most difficult piece ever written for the pianoforte.
Being a celebrated pianoforte virtuoso in the 19th Century, and capitalizing on the "devil-mystique" theme (which also served contemporary composer-violinist Niccolò Paganini, and others, on their concert tours), Franz Liszt penned several complicated numbers inspired by the writings of Goethe (Faust) ... and the 'Mephistopheles' subject matter of the time. This is the original version of Liszt's MEPHISTO WALTZ, a shade more complex than many other keyboard arrangements, including the later transcription by Ferruccio Busoni. In fact, the German score states that several passages, being "written in theory", are beyond the limits of keyboard playing; these measures are annotated and alternative suggestions are offered. (Need we remind the reader that the Pianola has no such limitations, being granted 80 to 88 pneumatic 'fingers' in its design?) The ARTCRAFT Interpretive Arrangement, therefore, not only brings MEPHISTO WALTZ to the Aeolian's Duo-Art expression player, but it also presents the music in a fashion which nobody, save Liszt himself, could have played the monumental number.
We won't attempt to describe MEPHISTO WALTZ at this point, since a tour-de-force of this magnitude elludes written commentary. The solo begins with the "Devil's violin strains"' and takes off from there, beguiling the listener with highspeed arpeggios, fiercely-accented chord patterns, a Waltz melody which rises and falls within the musical texture, and a captivating Coda which follows a 'tension filled' slow rubato section - in the true fashion of the "calm before the storm". Save the High C (the top note on your piano keyboard) followed by the Low A (the bottom note for the instrument) - transposed for the sake of the eighty-key Duo-Art striking range - this ARTCRAFT Music Rolls plays everything else including those "impossible" measures mentioned above!
Why did Aeolian - and other builders of the so-called 'reproducing' pianos - skip over this, the finest and most challenging two-hand piano solo ever conceived? The answer is simple: there was no way to "record" a pianist's wild dynamic swings, distinctive striking effects and fantastic tempo changeson an unattended music roll, especially one moving along in the traditional range of Tempo 75-90. The staccato would suffer, lacking that mystical 'sparkle' and the arpeggios (runs) would fail to have the "sweeping effect" so characteristic of Liszt's music. Moreover, the Pianola's stepping changes could not accommodate the metronome requirements of the piece ... and still maintain the fantasy-myth of a Busoni, Friedman, Hofmann, Horowitz or any of the other FAKE rolls of famous artists being "reproduced" by the Duo-Art expression player. Due to the TEMPO considerations alone, there is no way to insert a roll of this music and "walk away from the piano" (as advertised) ... and then enjoy a "reproduction" of a particular artist!
There was a musical solution, however, and it took Mr. Henderson at ARTCRAFT to solve the dillema: arrange the roll in "phrased blocks" of music ... giving specific points in which one could adjust the Tempo Lever on the player instrument. Thus "MONITORED" by the listener, the other elements of MEPHISTO WALTZ could be performed automatically, from the quick pedal effects (often in the striking perforations) to the thundering crashes which punctuate the rippling staccato cadenzas. The approach was to design a Metrostyle Line for the electric player, one which focused on "buying time" (through slow speeds of paper travel) and which also "compensated" for the paper build-up on the lower spool, the latter never standardized with respect to its diametre. Unlike the waving red line which characterized the commercial Metrostyle rolls of the past - since continuous tempo manipulation is part of the accenting system on pedal players - MEPHISTO WALTZ features a line which runs in a straight or a stairstep pattern; the Duo-Art never needs a floating tempo line, having the accenting power within the instrument at all times!
For those Duo-Art pianos without the Metrostyle Pointer, the roll is also stamped with the equivalent Tempo Numbers, synchronized to the "blocks" which require a recalibration of the paper travel norm.
Beyond being a dramatic example of how a "monitored" expression roll can augment the Pianola's performance, MEPHISTO WALTZ also demonstrates - and corrects for - the impossibility of maintaining a correct tempo with an unattended music roll. For example, when the "Devil's violin" introduction is being played, the Duo-Art is running at Tempo 120, and this continues for some time. As the paper accumulates on the lower spool, the red line (and stamped numbers) suggest Tempo 100 ... and finally Tempo 90, yet the music is racing along at approximately the same speed during this first 1/3 of the arrangement! The introduction of a couple of Tempo 40 passages allows the player to "buy time" - to fit the lengthy solo into a single roll [rerolling would destroy the mystical aura of the composition!] - and also, with regard to the Waltz melody (at Tempo 70), allows a resetting of the paper travel BEFORE performance irregularities could creep into the piano solo.
MEPHISTO WALTZ, when first released in 1987, received a favourable critique in a European music magazine, one usually devoted to audio recordings and not perforated Pianola arrangements! It has been played in the concert hall on Pianola recitals (both as a Duo-Art and an 88-Note roll - with a 'taped' tracker bar to reduce the playing keys to eighty) ... and continues to receive fan mail from astounded listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. Most recently, Charles G. Rex - a Stroud Duo-Art owner and associated with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra - wrote to say that he changed the tempo suggestions to make the roll simulate the playing of William Kapell (a memorable artist of the '40s and '50s). Actually, Mr. Henderson based this roll upon the Vox audio recording of Alfred Brendel, but the final roll had a number of interpretive changes, due primarily the playing-time of the music roll and the stepping choices for the musical "blocks" (as described above). What's amazing is that AFTER the roll was released, an audio recording by Vladimir Ashkanazy appeared with almost identical choices for phrasing and accenting!
Over 200 rolls have been labouriously "metrostyled" in The ARTCRAFT Studio during the first decade of the acclaimed release, and there is no apparent end in sight for the popularity of MEPHISTO WALTZ! Twelve templates are required - plus a steady hand! - on the motorized editing table. Once annotated, the roll is impressive to see as well as to experience in-performance, since the combination of the Metrostyle Line and Tempo Numbers is yet another exclusive musical development by ARTCRAFT Rolls.
Guided by the 'reproducing' roll for a few specific tempo changes, anyone can enjoy a 'live' performance of MEPHISTO WALTZ on their own player instrument. The musical rewards outweigh the minimal personal involvement, since the expression score takes care of the remaining details. And, while one is enjoying the splendour of this Interpretive Arrangement with its myriad "human" qualities, the roll asks the question, "Why didn't the piano makers have a capstan-drive on their expression players when palming-off music rolls are 'artist reproductions'?"
If skilled pianists frequent your residence, this roll is a 'must' for the Pianola library. "Overwhelming" is a tepid word for this outstanding perforated arrangement!
MISS MISCHIEF - Dedicated to Miss Shirley Temple (1937) -Ferde Grofé-
Arranged and Interpreted for The Duo-Art Pianola by L. Douglas Henderson - $22.50
Once again the "talent scout" abilities of pianist (and piano technician) Robin Pratt have led to the creation of an outstanding music roll - a piano solo in the Novelette tradition of POLLY, FLAPPERETTE or NOLA ... yet a distinctive composition which reflects the unique tonalities associated with the legendary Ferde Grofé.
While no human hands touched the piano keyboard for the making of this ARTCRAFT Roll, the effect of the phrased melodic line - contrasted with the Duo-Art "solo" accents and the rippling staccato effects - would cause any listener to assume that a virtuoso pianist was the 'source' for the perforated performance. The phrasing and interpretation came from Mr. Henderson's mind, at the Leabarjan perforator, in combination with the "instant replay" which is part of the Interpretive Arranging system in the ARTCRAFT Studio. Delicate touches, subtle rubato and unxpected crash accents abound in this expression roll, which climaxes with one of the most 'human-sounding' fade-outs that the Duo-Art player has ever achieved.
Grofé dedicated this music to the multi-talented child actress, considered to have saved the Fox Studios in the midst of the Great Depression. The music, not surprisingly, expresses a vivacious and capricious texture ... a instrumental tribute to the motion pictures which featured Miss Temple in her bouncy, exuberant movie-screen style. The Trio of MISS MISCHIEF appears to have been adapted - with Grofé's "moderne" style - from Nevin's musical chestnut NARCISSUS, only cloaked in a crescendo of broken chords and strange harmonies. An added bonus from ARTCRAFT Rolls is the variation which closes the extra reprise of the A-Theme: here additional treble notes have been added to the already-complex treble score ... and these are struck as Accompaniment staccato in-between the melody line, which creates an effervescence that is impossible to describe.
MISS MISCHIEF has the essence of Pianola panache, and makes a wonderful encore after presenting Grofé's 1932 masterpiece from the Grand Canyon Suite: ON THE TRAIL - one of the most celebrated ARTCRAFT Duo-Art rolls ever released. This is the expression roll to play when the occasion requires "something completely different". It's also a 'must' for fans of Grofé's uniquely-American musical compositions. [Link to the 88-Note edition]
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