JS BACH, HAYDN & MENDELSSOHN
Johann Sebastian Bach, Franz Joseph Haydn, Felix Mendelssohn
JOSHUA PIERCE, piano
SLOVAK NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
“...especially natural and well-spaced recorded sound. Joshua Pierce is an American pianist with stellar academic credits (Cleveland Institute, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, and Columbia)... Pierce has a fine sense for the energy and slyness of the outer movements, and finds great poignancy in the exquisite adagio. [Pierce's Mendelssohn] is an engaging presentation of this delightful music. Trevor and the Slovak National contribute an alert, colorful accompaniment. [In the Bach] Pierce and Trevor certainly deliver a vigorous and emotionally connected performance... this is a solid outing.”
Peter Burwasser, Fanfare [November/December 2016]
“[In the Haydn] the pianist is presented as someone with a deft touch... In the second movement the pianist impressed with his fine cantabile line, good pacing and a real sense of the melody... [The third movement is] played with flair, polish and a great lightness of touch.
[In the Mendelssohn] When the pianist comes in, his entrance is grand, yet restrained. With many skilfully executed florid runs and arpeggios, Pierce shows what a fine legato touch he has... The second movement has a really lovely tutti opening. When the piano comes in, the whole style changes to recitativo over the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra's suspended strings, with a beauty that took my breath away... The lovely dance-like last movement requires deftness and brilliance of playing rather than macho bravura, and again here it is delivered with panache.
[The Bach] is beautifully played, and the sense of melodic line and almost jaunty rhythms were never overdone. Pierce's piano dynamic is breathtaking in its beauty and sweetness, but never at the expense of clarity. [In the second movement, Pierce's] pace, cantabile line and the great pizzicato strings background truly transported me to heaven.
All in all, this is a fine disc and will be an enjoyable addition to anyone's collection.”
Geoff Pearce, Music & Vision [September 2016]
[ * * * * ] “Pierce revels in [the Haydn Concerto], and you can feel the enjoyment... Pierce really tears into [the Bach work] with an exuberance and élan that takes your breath away, making the case that it belongs in every way in the same class as Mozart’s concertos... The Slovak SO plays very well... A fine release.”
Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [September 2016]
[++++] “A beautifully played juxtaposition of keyboard works from three different time periods. [Joshua Pierce plays with] verve and musicianship... [Pierce] uses the resources of a fine modern piano very well, and is a sufficiently sensitive performer to avoid, to the extent possible, having the instrument overshadow the accompaniment... the warmth and emotional involvement of the second movement of Haydn’s concerto, for example, are thoroughly winning... listeners willing to suspend any focus they may usually have on historically informed performance practices will be lured into this recording immediately and swept away by it throughout... this disc as a whole is a very enjoyable one, and the Mendelssohn concerto is a real find.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [August 2016]
“I admire Joshua Pierce because (a) he's so very talented at communicating the essence of a work of music to us with boldness and conviction, and (b) he's a supreme example of a top-flight concert pianist who has chosen to take “the road less traveled,” and he's done well with it. The breadth of his repertoire over the past several decades has been immense... Pierce, with the collaboration of longtime partner-in-crime Kirk Trevor at the podium of the Slovak National Symphony Orchestra, further enhances his reputation as an artist of the broadest sympathies... it is refreshing to discover how scintillatingly precise, how right-on the-money he can be in such 18th century items as Bach's Concerto in F minor and Haydn's Concerto No. in D major. Pierce's fresh new accounts of these familiar standards are the bookends to a program that includes Mendelssohn‟s Piano Concerto in A minor, a somewhat neglected work that is certain to acquire new friends with this performance.”
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [May 2016]
According to our traditional view
, Johann Sebastian Bach was a baroque composer, Haydn a classicist and Mendelssohn one of the early romantics. All of them are known for their instrumental works and all of them wrote keyboard concertos; indeed these three “early” concertos – here recorded by Joshua Pierce as a unique set – constitute an almost capsule history of the form.
Award-winning pianist Joshua Pierce
is one of the most uniquely gifted virtuosos of our time. His on-going series of recordings on MSR Classics of works from great composers like 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. Such a range - encompassing the standard repertoire, contemporary works and rediscovered 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. Pierce has numerous Grammy Award nominations to his credit along with laudatory reviews from a world of publications. He has appeared with major orchestras around the world, 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.
Pierce has recorded nearly 200 works on more than 60 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 more than a dozen record labels and has performed for public radio and television in the United States and overseas. Pierce
has performed at 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.
A winner of the 2004 Grand Prize of the IBLA International Competition for Contemporary Music, a 2012 Foundation Award from the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Inc. and a nominee for the 23rd International Franz Liszt Grand Prix du Disque of Hungary for Contemporary Music. He is an adjudicator of piano competitions, the American Chamber Orchestra Violin Competition, the New York International Center For Contemporary Opera and has served multiple years on the International Fulbright Commission.
PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR, Hob.XVIII
II. Un poco adagio
III. Rondo all’Ungarese. Allegro assai
Cadenza: Sonja Gerlach
PIANO CONCERTO IN A MINOR (1821/22)
III. Finale: Allegro ma non troppo
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
KEYBOARD CONCERTO NO.5 IN F MINOR, BWV 1056
I. Allegro moderato