Judith Lang Zaimont's hundred or so works are highly varied in form: symphonies, chamber music, solo instrumental, and vocal music including opera, oratorios and cantatas. In style, the pieces presented here as "Prestidigitations" could not sound much more different from the symphony, elegy and movement for orchestra called Monarchs on the only other CD (reSOUNDings – Arabesque Z6742) of Judith Lang Zaimont's music I have heard, except for one thing: her outstanding sense of rhythm.
Even these pieces, grouped as rags, are varied in both style and instrumentation. The opening number, Bubble-up Rag, for flute and piano, begins with a familiar-sounding ragtime tune but in the course of its nine and a half minutes moves away from that before returning, in a five part rondo. Reflective Rag is played by solo piano, Zaimont playing, as well as by piano and flute, and for the ensemble, which includes a clarinet, trumpet, violin, viola, cello, bass and drums as well as piano.
Snazzy Sonata, An Entertainment for Two, for two pianists (Zaimont and her sister Doris Kosloff), runs eighteen minutes and includes a "Moderate Two Step," "Lazy Beguine", "Bebob Scherzo and a Grand Valse Brillante." The titles speak for themselves. "Lazy Beguine," played by the ensemble, is gentle and languid. Hesitation Rag combines chromatic and direct tonality. Judy's Rag is vigorous. Serenade, for piano solo, the final selection, is lovely and gentle.
In addition to those already mentioned, soloists include flutists Emmanuel Davis and Elizabeth Ann Owens, pianists Nanette Kaplan Solomon and Joanne Polk. Helpful program notes are by Jeffrey W. James.
One of these works is subtitled "an entertainment," but this might well be applied to this quite pleasant selection generally and I recommend it. I sure wish the reSOUNDings might be reissued though.
Copyright © 2008, R. James Tobin