There’s so much going on as the classical music world embraces the repertoire of black composers that it’s hard to keep up. Seeing gig listings with names like Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman, Florence Price and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor is always remarkable but not at all unusual. Five years ago, could you even name a black composer? In fact, I bet you could, because if you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably remember Scott Joplin. Thanks to the hit 1973 film “The Sting,” starring Robert Redford and Paul Newman, Joplin’s piano rags like “The Entertainer” and “Maple Leaf Rag” became the soundtrack of a decade.
With her delicious new CD “Reflections: Scott Joplin Reconsidered”, pianist Lara Downes puts Joplin back in the mix. Downes has been devoting his considerable talents to new, forgotten and rediscovered music for some time and has amassed a significant discography, mostly of American classics, along the way. Many of his other records, like “America Reconsidered” and “Remembering Lenny,” are thoughtful collections of shorter works.