BACH, HINDEMITH & BLOCH
J.S.Bach: Keyboard Concerto BWV 1052; Hindemith: The Four Temperaments; Bloch: Concerto Grosso No.1
Johann Sebastian Bach, Ernst Bloch, Paul Hindemith
JOSHUA PIERCE, piano
KIRK TREVOR, conductor
SLOVAK RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
"What an interesting idea for pianist Joshua Pierce and conductor Kirk Trevor to bring together three of the most popular and substantial works for piano and string orchestra...The slow movement of the Bach D minor stands out for the alluring colorations with which the soloist and strings project the music's harmonic tension... Pierce is fluid and energetic...the fugal finale [of the Bloch] builds with apt exuberance."
Jed Distler, Gramophone [March 2014]
“Here’s a refreshing program, crisply and smartly played…The busy and inventive solo part tends to dominate the Bach performance. Messrs Pierce and Trevor refrain from the break-neck tempos that mar a lot of modern performances of Baroque works, but the interpretation is still nimble and expressive. The slow movement is particularly expressive, no doubt aided by Mr. Pierce’s sensitive playing and the greater nuance that can be deployed with the piano, as opposed to the harpsichord.
There’s plenty of vigor in III… The other two works are from the 20th Century but look back to Baroque forms, so they make excellent disc-mates. Pianist and conductor give the Bloch a very effective performance… Mr. Pierce gives the solo piano part a higher profile than the [historical recording] Kubelik’s George Schick, and the more up-to-date sound is welcome… Mr. Pierce gives the solo [in the Hindemith] freshness and exuberance—even in the second (Melancholic) and third (Phlegmatic) variations—without weighting it down with too much Germanic seriousness. The fourth variation (Choleric) comes off as a lively, virtuoso dash. It’s a very refreshing performance overall of a work that should be better known. The sonics are very good…and closely miked sometimes… they let you hear inner detail...”
Hansen, American Record Guide [January/February 2014]
“Here’s an imaginative bouquet of three baroque concertos—one echt, two neo—played by a pianist with wide-ranging sympathies but a special reputation in music of the 20th century… rhythms are consistently engaging: there’s plenty of zip where required (say, in the finale of the Bach or the piano’s vital entry in the Hindemith), and the dance qualities of the Hindemith…have an infectious lilt. Add to this the sparkling textures and the pianist’s sure technical control, and you have a trio of performances that offer plenty of musical rewards. The presence of the under-appreciated Bloch, with a relatively modest solo part rarely taken up by pianists of Pierce’s stature, is especially welcome… Conductor Kirk Trevor has the measure of the music (I especially enjoyed the playfulness of the Hindemith and the tough demeanor of Bloch’s fourth-movement fugue). He’s supported by alert orchestral playing from both groups… Eric Salzman’s notes are typically detailed. All in all, if the particular combination of works appeals, you should find this an attractive collection.”
Peter J. Rabinowitz, Issue 37:2, Fanfare [Nov/Dec 2013]
“Joshua Pierce and his Slovak orchestras led by KirkTrevor get right the tricky balance between piano and strings in fine performances of both works. The opening Bach also goes well, an appropriate introduction to these neoclassical pieces. Recording and notes are also good.”
George Dorris, Ballet Review [Fall 2013]
“[In the Bach, Pierce] is more aligned with modern sensibilities …I would certainly rate this on a par with most other recordings out there… this [Four Temperaments] is very welcome and is played with a lot of spirit and panache… Its linear dimensions and contrapuntal activity work well after the Bach… there are only 13 [recordings of the Bloch] now available, the ones by Quincy Porter in San Diego and Howard Hanson at Eastman being among the best. Add this one to it—Maestro Trevor has the true measure of the piece in a nicely balanced and lovingly crafted interpretation that does the piece full justice… This is a fine recording, though if pressed I think I favor the Hindemith the most. Pierce is excellent in all three, and each has its felicities and well worth you attention.”
[ * * * * ] Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [August 2013]
Keyboards were used with strings from a very early period in European music but their original function was to supply the so-called continuo part, a kind of rhythmic, harmonic underpinning to the baroque orchestra. Early instrumental music for strings took on the name concerto or concerto grosso. The two first violins and first cello were known collectively as the little concerto or concertino and the rest of the orchestra was known as the ripieno or, later, the tutti. If there was a soloist, it was
usually the first violin although concertos for other solo instruments became popular in certain times and places (see the immense concerto output of Vivaldi). But the violin was always the solo instrument par excellence while the harpsichord long remained hidden behind the strings as a faithful accompanist.
is considered one of the most uniquely gifted virtuosos of our time. His on-going series of recordings on MSR Classics of works from the great composers of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert to the romantic world of Brahms, Liszt and Tchaikovsky, form a testimony to the range of an artist who is also known for his performances of 20th century repertoire - from Gershwin to Cage and beyond. Such a range - encompassing the standard repertoire, contemporary works and re- discovered masterpieces of the past - is rare among the pianists of our day.
Born in New York City, Pierce studied at the Cleveland Institute, Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music and Columbia University. His teachers and mentors included Dorothy Taubman, Artur Balsam, Victor Babin, and Robert Goldsand. He also studied with cellists Bernard Greenhouse of the Beaux Arts Trio and Jascha Silberstein, and with pianists Arthur Loesser and Artur Balsam. He has numerous Grammy Award nominations to his credit along with laudatory reviews from a variety of publications including the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle; Downbeat, Keyboard and Billboard magazines; and overseas in Gramophone, BBC Music, The Strad, London Telegraph and The Guardian. His career includes numerous appearances with major orchestras, including the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Moscow State Philharmonic, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, Slovak Philharmonic, Luxembourg Philharmonic, RAI Orchestra of Rome, Mexico City Philharmonic, Orchestra Sinfonica Nacional of Peru, Capella Istropolitana and the symphony orchestras of Utah, San Antonio and Missouri. He has collaborated with violinists Eric Friedman and Julianne Klopotic, cellist Jeffrey Solow and Lawrence Zoernig, Russia’s Leontovich String Quartet, clarinetist Hideaki Aomori, Chamber Players International and numerous other chamber musicians and ensembles.
Pierce has recorded nearly 200 works on more than 50 CDs, including the complete piano concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Gershwin and Liszt and landmark recordings of John Cage’s keyboard works. His recordings also include standard and lesser-known works by Bach, Britten, Casella, Chopin, Franck, Finzi, Khachaturian, Liszt, Malipiero, Martinu, Milhaud, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-Saens, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky. He has recorded for a host of record labels, including MSR Classics, Wergo, Sony Classical, Virgin Classics, Carleton Classics, Koch International, Mastersound, Fanfare, Pro Arte, Albany, MMC, Phoenix, Centaur, Premiere and Varese Sarabande. He has also performed for public radio and television in the United States, Europe, Russia and South Korea, and elsewhere. A well-known contemporary music performer, he has served as the Official Pianist and Artistic Advisor to the American Festival of MicroTonal Music Ensemble since 1983. Pierce has performed at most of
the major concert venues and series in New York City, including: Alice Tully Hall, 92nd Street Y, Symphony Space, Merkin Hall, Roulette, The Kitchen, The Knitting Factory and Weill Recital Hall. In 2012, he received an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant as well as two PSC-CUNY Research Award grants for his work on the World Premiere Recording of Vincent Persichetti’s song cycle, Harmonium with soprano Sherry Overholt [MSR Classics: MS1432].
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
CONCERTO NO.1 IN D MINOR FOR KEYBOARD & STRINGS, BWV 1052
THE FOUR TEMPERAMENTS - THEME WITH FOUR VARIATIONS FOR PIANO & STRINGS
Thema - Moderato; Allegro assai; Moderato
First Variation - Melancholisch: Langsam; Presto; Langsamer Marsch
Second Variation - Sanguinisch: Waltzer
Third Variation - Phlegmatisch: Moderato; Allegretto; Allegretto scherzando
Fourth Variation - Cholerisch: Introduction; Vivace; Appassionato; Maestoso
CONCERTO GROSSO NO.1 FOR STRING ORCHESTRA WITH PIANO OBBLIGATO
Prelude: Allegro energico e pesante
Dirge: Andante moderato
Pastorale and Rustic Dances: Assai lento; Allegro; Moderato, ma non troppo lento