LISZT: 3 Piano Concertos; Totentenz
JOSHUA PIERCE, piano
State Symphony Orchestra of Russia
"...an important re-issue [offering] exciting performances..."
Turok's Choice - October 2006
"...no one who acquires [this] is likely to be disappointed...[Pierce's] free-wheeling, heart-on-sleeve approach proves quite satisfying, and he makes of Totentanz an exhilarating tour-de-force, concluding with a whirlwind fugue and a blistering closing salvo...Pierce's clarion tone comes across..."
American Record Guide - September/October 2006
"[the orchestra's] musicianship, led by conductor Paul Freeman, is undeniable...Pierce's readings...are reverential to the composer's intent, and technically sound...attractive lyricism...to good effect"
Gramophone - October 2006
"[Pierce is an] extroverted pianist, perfect for Liszt's fireworks... [He] has a big, extroverted technique and temperament...Pierce turns on his afterburner fireworks for the Totentanz."
Audiophile Audition - July 2006
"Pierce, Freeman, and the band are hand in glove...Pierce's prestidigital brilliance...[is] remarkable."
Fanfare - July / August 2006
"Pierce has always been an impressive Liszt player...he performs ...with powerful virtuosity and grand feeling."
Turok's Choice - Issue 177, May 2006
PROGRAM NOTESIn a long creative lifetime of at least 65 years (he was a published composer by the age of 11), Franz Liszt wrote 15 or 16 works for piano and orchestra but only three real concertos; improbably enough, they are, along with the Totentanz, all dated 1849. Every aspiring virtuoso of the day was grinding out show-off concertos so it should not be surprising that the greatest virtuoso of the century (if not of all time) would have created concertos designed to exhibit his own artistry. But by 1849, Liszt had actually retired from concert life, settling down as kapellmeister in Weimar with his mistress, the Countess Carolyne von Sayn- Wittgenstein. Why then, did he suddenly turn up with four big works for piano and orchestra?
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Grammy nominated pianist, Joshua Pierce, one of the most versatile virtuosi of our time, was born in New York City and studied at The Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music and Columbia University; his principal teachers and mentors were Dorothy Taubman, Artur Balsam, Victor Babin, Arthur Loesser and Robert Goldsand. His extensive career includes performances in recital, as a soloist with chamber ensembles, including Russia's famed Leontovich String Quartet and Chamber Players International, Inc. He has been heard throughout the world in many of the most prestigious music centers and has performed as a soloist with an impressive array of major orchestras in the New World and the Old including the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia of London, Luxembourg Radio Symphony, Chicago Sinfonietta, Philharmonia Virtuosi of New York, Utah Symphony, Missouri Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orchestra Philharmonic of Jalisco, Berlin Radio Symphony, RAI Orchestra of Rome, Czech Radio Orchestra, Czech National Symphony, Slovak Philharmonic, Slovak State Chamber Orchestra Zelina, Moscow State Philharmonic, Russian State Symphony and the State Symphony of Russia at Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow, where he made a highly successful debut in 1993 performing Liszt's Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat major. His huge range and varied repertoire are unique among contemporary pianists ranging from the prepared piano works of John Cage to the masterpieces of the standard repertoire to rediscovered concerted masterpieces of the high romantic era.
Mr. Pierce's many recordings on the Albany, Carlton Classics, Centaur, Fanfare, Helicon, Koch International, Mastersound, MNC, Phoenix, Premiere, Pro Arte, Sony Classics, Virgin Classics, Vox, Varese Sarabande, and Wergo labels, include familiar and lesser-known concerted works by Brahms, Casella, Chopin, Czerny, Gershwin, Hummel, Khachaturian, Liszt, Mendelssohn, Prokofiev, Reinecke, Rachmaninov, Respighi, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Weber. Other composers performed and recorded by Mr. Pierce include Ives, Cowell, Harry Partch, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Stravinsky, Toru Takemitsu and La Monte Young. It was the success of his recording of the Brahms B-flat Concerto with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic under Kirk Trevor that led directly to live performances of the Franck and Liszt with the same forces and to the inclusion of all three works on this disc. Joshua Pierce's long identification with the music of Liszt includes recordings of the first three concertos, soon to be available on MSR.
Joshua Pierce has also performed extensively for public radio and television in the United States and for PRI in many parts of Europe. A long list of contemporary and traditional music performances includes the Cage Musicircus Memorial Concert at Symphony Space in New York, Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in Chicago, AFMM Microfest Concerts, Barbican Centre/London, 4th ISCM Europe-Asia 2000 Music Festival, Festival "Music of Friends"/Russian Composers Union Music Series/Moscow, Alternativa Music Festival 2000/Moscow, Bergen International Music Festival/Norway, ISCM Festivals in Seattle and Zurich, Switzerland, the Futurismo & Futurismi Festival in Venice, Italy, festivals at Amherst and Trenton, Music Mountain Chamber Music Festival, international Piano Festival at Williams College/Williamstown, Massachusetts as well as appearances at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and Purchase, Washington and Lee University, University of Maryland and Bucknell University among others.
Mr. Pierce is a board member of the American Festival of Microtonal Music, and is the official pianist of the AFMM Ensemble. He has also served as a judge for several international music competitions and on the board of the International Fulbright Commission. On February 10, 2005, he premiered the 95-minute "Revelation" by Michael Harrison at Merkin Hall in New York and followed by the West-Coast Premiere in Los Angeles.
In addition to his solo career, Mr. Pierce and the pianist Dorothy Jonas make up the Pierce/Jonas Duo - one of the most imaginative and compelling duo-piano teams in the world today. The Duo has performed throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and South America, appearing with major orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Radio-Television Orchestras of Poland and Luxembourg, Chicago Sinfonietta, Slovak Philharmonic, State Philharmonic of Kocise, Orchestra da Camera di Roma and the symphony orchestras of Houston, San Antonio, Utah, Mexico City and elsewhere. The Duo’s disc of Mendelssohn’s Two-Piano Concertos is believed to be the first complete and unabridged recordings of these works. The Duo has received over 15 Grammy Award nominations to date and they have introduced and recorded many important twentieth-century works by such composers as Benjamin, Berezowsky, Britten, Creston, Gould, Harris, Malipiero, Martinu, Piston, Rozsa, Tansman and others. Their recordings have ranged from John Cage's "Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos"and Charles Ives' "Three Quarter-Tone Pieces for Two Pianos" to the complete two-piano works of Mozart; to Broadway music of Bernstein, Rodgers, Hamlisch, Hermann and Lloyd Webber.
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