"The music of George Frederic McKay should be better known than it is. Maybe this charming sample of McKay's songs, piano music and chamber music performed by William Bolcom and his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, and joined by a few other fine musicians, will give the musical world a heads-up on McKay, who died in 1970.
Bolcom, one of the most distinguished and prolific U.S. composers, is also a skillful pianist. He was a leader in the ragtime revival of the 1970s, and there are touches of ragtime - and more than a hint of Zez Confrey -- in McKay's "Caricature Dance Suite" from 1924, which opens the set. The later "From My Tahoe Window" (1965) exhibits a kind of quirky impressionism, while the "Five Songs for Soprano," also from the '60s, are full of wit and careful word-setting - apt vehicles for Morris's rich singing. Included, too, is the more dramatic Suite for Viola and Piano (1948) played deftly by pianist Sanford Margolis and violist Mahoko Eguchi.
McKay was a maverick, but this record suggests that the mavericks live on.