JOSHUA PIERCE

Also Available
SCHUBERT RECORDINGS - VOLUME II

SCHUBERT RECORDINGS - VOLUME II

Impromptus


Franz Schubert

JOSHUA PIERCE, piano

[MS1205]

$12.95

LISTEN
REVIEWS
"Joshua Pierce succeeds brilliantly; every time something repeats, it is varied in the most subtle manner, so that it retains its place in the structure without becoming redundant. Beautiful music, performed distinctively, with great feeling."
Turok's Choice - Issue No.205, December 2008
"Pierce is a no nonsense performer...the music is left to speak for itself...[Pierce's playing] is always direct and fully reliable...Pierce demonstrates a powerful approach to this music. Climaxes are strongly stated...[Pierce's playing] is quite excellent overall...I found myself admiring and then starting to love his forthright interpretations. Notes and recording leave nothing to be desired."
American Record Guide - November / December 2008
"...Seriousness and breadth rightly give way to lyrical fantasy in Pierce's interpretation of the C minor Impromptu...Pierce's singing legato fully emerges in a fluid, flexible account of the A-flat...I appreciate the concluding F minor for Pierce's crisp articulation and genuine feeling for the composer's syncopated touches."
Gramophone - November 2008
"...this assemblage of the eight impromptus of 1826 has Joshua Pierce playing them as though each set of four were a sonata in its own right, an emotional unity... Pierce brings a formidable, fluent technique to these familiar keyboard staples, emphasizing the big Gs of the opening C Minor Impromptu and making short work of the triplet runs in the pungent No. 2 in E-flat Major. The evolving melos of the G-flat Major Impromptu Pierce accomplishes by emphasizing the bass trill in the manner of the posthumous B-flat Major Sonata. The last of the D. 899 set, the A-flat Major, has Pierce relishing its deliberate ambiguity of modality... The C-sharp Minor middle section brings out rich colors from the Pierce palette, and the da capo elicits all sorts of liquid ripples and gurgles that must have their roots in the many an Austrian outdoor excursion...[In the] F Minor Impromptu...Pierce applies a soothing legato to the filigree of the D-flat Major/Minor Trio section, impelling it forward in the manner of a real improvisation, trill and arpeggiated triplets quite pronounced...The piu Presto coda [in the F Minor Allegro scherzando] proves a moment Mr. Pierce obviously anticipated with his customary zeal."
Audiophile Audition - October 2008
"Joshua Pierce has become one of my favorite pianists in recent years, and the next time someone asks me why, I'm just going to refer them to this disc of Schubert impromptus (Opp. 90 and 142), which Pierce plays with the perfect balance of inwardness and emotion. You can't play Schubert well without understanding his strange and tragic personality, and on this disc you get the feeling that the composer is being channeled through the pianist. Is there higher praise than that?"
CD HotList for Libraries - October 2008
"This new recording of the Impromptus, Op. 90 and 142, Volume 2 of a projected 3-volume Schubert series by pianist Joshua Pierce, is a genuine delight. In these eight pieces, probably the composer’s most instantly recognized and best-loved works for the keyboard, Pierce shows a very natural rubato, an appropriately affective use of the pedals, and a keen feeling for the rhythm and flow of the music...

Too many performers trade on the most obvious aspect of Franz Schubert’s romanticism, the soft, sweetly feminine lyricism, so highly expressive and poetic. But Pierce also captures a wild, manic quality in the music that was also part of the composer’s character. The dramatic cadences that interrupt the quicksilver flow of the triplets in the E-flat Impromptu, Op. 90, No.2, show that Pierce really knows when to "take it big" (as they used to say in the movies), a flair for the dramatic that he no doubt honed in the course of many memorable duo-piano recitals with his partner Dorothy Jonas...

The thing you need to know about the Impromptu, a form that Schubert seems to have created, is that the name implies an inspired improvisation. Considering the fact that some of these musical gems have a playing time of 8 or 10 minutes and wander considerably beyond the cozy bounds of their ABA ternary form, that’s stretching the idea of "working on a riff" quite a bit. But the impression of spontaneity has to be there, and in that respect Joshua Pierce’s interpretations are as satisfying as one could possibly desire...
From the beginning, Schubert’s contemporaries (Robert Schumann, for one) often felt that his Four Impromptus, Op. 90 were a sonata in all but name, although the composer insisted otherwise. There is at least a general sense of unity here, and Pierce chooses to emphasize their family resemblance rather than play it down..."
Atlanta Audio Society - August 2008

SELECT CRITICAL ACCLAIM ON VOLUME I

"…this is impressive Schubert playing, with judicious pedalling, vivid contrast in tone colour, finely tuned dynamic control and a natural rubato…this is a disc worth hearing."
MusicWeb International - January 2008
"[Joshua Pierce] applied his mind and heart to every phrase. Nothing is straightforward; everything is interpreted."
American Record Guide - November / December 2007
"Pierce's interpretations convey undeniable enthusiasm, energy and sincerity...[a] gifted, charismatic pianist."
Gramophone - October 2007
" Joshua Pierce offers a distinguished Schubert disc."
Turok's Choice - October 2007
"Brilliant."
CD HotList - September 2007
PROGRAM NOTES
What is an Impromptu? Presumably something unpremeditated, unplanned. But how does that apply to a written-out, printed piece of music in an A-B-A ternary form— boxes within boxes and about as basic and locked-in as a musical form can be?

To understand this apparent contradiction and to recapture the magical freshness of the Schubert Impromptus when they first appeared in the 1820s, we have to return to that heyday of early romanticism in central Europe when the rise of the middle class – yes, the famous Bourgeoisie – meant a piano in every parlor and hausmusik in every household. The eighteenth-century musical salon took place in the mansions of the aristocracy and the tradition passed on to the new rich of the next generations who carried it forward. In particular, well-to-do young women learned to play the piano under the tutelage of some of the leading composers and pianists of the day and whole new genres of music—lyric, dreamy or even dramatic character pieces for solo piano and new kinds of art songs—came into being expressly for the hausmusik market.

Whereas baroque and classical music were elegant, austere, precise, contrapuntal, tough to the point of being macho, highly structured and, at the same time, highly ornamented, the new romanticism was sweet, soft, feminized, highly expressive and poetic. But there is another side to this picture. Alongside the poetic lyricism, there is also that darker and more intense strain of bohemianism, despair, and wildness perhaps best exemplified by the stories of E.T.A. Hoffmann (who was also one of the leading composers of the day), the schizophrenic personality of Robert Schumann (who ended up in an asylum) and the demonic public figures of Paganini and Liszt. We now also know that the real story of sweet and gentle Franz Schubert was actually one of (to quote a leading authority) "alcohol abuse, manic depression, syphilis and hypersexual activity."

*   *   *

Joshua Pierce adds his interpretations of Schubert to his extraordinarily vast collection of classical, romantic and modern pianism. Pierce is one of the most versatile virtuosi of our time. His series of recent recordings of major works for piano and orchestra from the great composers of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to the complete Beethoven Concertos to the Schubert solo keyboard masterpieces recorded here to the romantic world of Liszt and Brahms form an extraordinary testimony to the mastery and enormous range of an artist who is also known for his performances of twentieth century repertoire from Gershwin to Cage and beyond. This huge range and varied repertoire – encompassing the standard repertoire, contemporary work and rediscovered masterpieces of the past – are unique among contemporary pianists.

For further information on Mr. Pierce, visit www.jamesarts.com/pierce.

PROGRAM

FRANZ SCHUBERT
FOUR IMPROMPTUS, OP.90, D.899
No.1 in C minor (Allegro moderato)
No.2 in E-flat major (Allegro)
No.3 in G-flat major (Andante)
No.4 in A-flat major (Allegretto)

FOUR IMPROMPTUS, OP. POSTH.142, D.935
No.1 in F minor (Allegro moderato)
No.2 in A-flat major (Allegretto)
No.3 in B-flat major (Andante)
No. 4 in F minor (Allegro scherezando)





MSR Classics
RUSSIAN PIANO CONCERTOS
RUSSIAN PIANO CONCERTOS

JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1464]
JS BACH, HAYDN & MENDELSSOHN
JS BACH, HAYDN & MENDELSSOHN
Piano Concertos JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1496]
PERSICHETTI: LEGACY OF SONGS
PERSICHETTI: LEGACY OF SONGS
Unpublished Songs on Poetical Texts JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1558]
BACH, HINDEMITH & BLOCH
BACH, HINDEMITH & BLOCH
J.S.Bach: Keyboard Concerto BWV 1052; JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1415]
PERSICHETTI: HARMONIUM
PERSICHETTI: HARMONIUM
Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano, Op.50
Poems JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1432]
JOHN CAGE: A TRIBUTE
JOHN CAGE: A TRIBUTE
In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1400]
LISZT: 3 Piano Concertos; Totentenz
LISZT: 3 PIANO CONCERTOS; TOTENTENZ

JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1154]
BRAHMS, LISZT & FRANCK
BRAHMS, LISZT & FRANCK
Works for Piano and Orchestra

JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1148]
LISZT: ROMANTIC WORKS for PIANO and ORCHESTRA
LISZT: ROMANTIC WORKS FOR PIANO AND …
Rhapsodie Espagnole
Hungarian Fantasia


JOSHUA PIERCE

[MS1210]