JOSHUA PIERCE

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BRAVURA

BRAVURA

Showpieces for Piano and Orchestra

Richard Addinsell, Frédéric Chopin, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Franz Liszt-Weber, Henry Litolff, Camille Saint-Saëns, Paul Turok

JOSHUA PIERCE, piano
Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
KIRK TREVOR

First Release of Ellington

[MS1640]

$12.95

LISTEN
REVIEWS
[Artistic 9 / Sound 8] "[Pierce gives a] stylishly dapper performance of Duke Ellington’s New World A-Comin’ and [the] world premiere recording of Paul Turok’s Ragtime Caprice [which] holds interest for what Pierce’s nimble fingers make of the keyboard writing... [Pierce’s virtuosity and his] no-holds-barred approach compels you to consider Litolff’s Scherzo from an unconventional yet plausibly edgy vantage point... Check out Pierce’s rhythmic élan in the Weber/Liszt Polonaise’s swaggering finale and in the Gershwin “I Got Rhythm” Variations. Regarding the Warsaw Concerto] Pierce simply sweeps through it, aiming for the jugular, emoting at every crescendo, and somehow making the descending broken-chord cadenza sound noble. Conductor Kirk Trevor and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra provide sympathetic and galvanic support throughout... Certainly 'Bravura' deserves an overall 'Bravo'".
Jed Distler, Classics Today [March 2020]
[ * * * * ] "A debonair sense of flair and stylistic versatility mark this compilation of concerted works performed by Joshua Pierce, the once-pupil of luminaries Victor Babin, Arthur Loesser, and Robert Goldsand. The essential ingredient of this 'bravura' tour would be dexterous fun, applied with brilliant digital aplomb by Pierce in a dazzling array of musical styles, from Polish dances to boogie-woogie... [The Saint-Saens, Weber and Litolff works] engage the truly acrobatic aspects of Pierce’s playing."
Gary Lemco, Audiophile Audition [February 2020]
“Daring to be brilliant is exactly what bravura connotes. Now Joshua Pierce shows his lighter, looser side by muscling his musical flexibility into new discoveries and a plenteous sampling of all-time favorites... Richard Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto will enthrall... Joshua Pierce quickly sets a level of boldness and an uplifting melodramatic draft...it ravishes... [In Chopin’s Don Giovanni, Pierce] pays homage to the esteemed composer by taking his time, though the piece never dawdles... In this and all the other pieces, M. Pierce’s technique would not have the same amount of pulsation without the rich drop cloth of Kirk Trevor’s Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra.... Pierce scrupulously analyzes [Wedding Cake's] dulcet qualities with sophisticated and diminutive perspectives... Gershwin’s invigorating variations of I Got Rhythm is a clear show-stopper [and] Joshua Pierce bores into the score... Pierce’s devilishly filigreed notes impulsively jump [in the Lizst-Weber]... Piece is to be commended for giving one of the finest deliveries of Henry Litolff’s Scherzo from his Concerto Symphonique. “Blasting off the pages” in snowballing 6/8 time, each note is discerned in sharp curtail...point-blank impeccability...a marvelous moment. 'Bravura' is a potpourri of spine-tingling vivaciousness. Over the past 15 years of critiquing, this reviewer can attest to this recording as being one of the finest arrivals. If there’s one word that can sum up this CD, it’s 'stunning'!”
Christie Grimstad, ConcertoNet [January 2020]
"Listeners greatly familiar with pianist Joshua Pierce’s contributions to the prevailing recording repertoire on nearly two dozen MSR Classics recordings of Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt and the like may be amazed and delighted with his departure into a mélange of outstanding orchestral showpieces on 'Bravura'. When this exceptional recording opens with a huge performance of “Warsaw Concerto” by Richard Addinsell, we ask: How will they top this one? What unfolds, a piece at a time, is indeed a rolling, over the top recording of such intensity that one would likely not encounter in a staged concert during a lifetime. Each of the compositions is very different and great in its own way. Some of them, we already know directly or are familiar with their content while others will be new and thrilling... While this overall recording is obviously not a consistent whole and instead a patchwork of contrasting musical bravura, each of its compositions testifies to the versatility of Joshua Pierce’s pianism, his ability to play it all with brilliance and verve, whatever it may be. We also come to realize what happens when any composer, regardless of the date on the calendar or the prevailing definition of “what is music,” decides to let is all go in a moment of self-indulgence to celebrate life for all it’s worth."
Joel C. Thompson, Cherry Grove Music Review [February 2020]
[ * * * * ] “This is an entire disc of show-stoppers, none with significant meaning or emotional punch but all designed as display pieces that demonstrate the pianist’s technical ability for the pleasure of the audience. That is a perfectly worthwhile goal: there is no reason that all music must be profound, and it is good that some of it is as superficial but thrilling as the eight works heard here... Pierce – a particularly accomplished interpreter of Gershwin – tosses off [Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” variations] with aplomb and considerable spirit. [Chopin’s “Là ci darem la mano” variations] offer more-substantial fare and a very different approach to the piano. Pierce seems just as comfortable here as he is with the century-later Gershwin, and so, for that matter, do Kirk Trevor and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, who accompany all the music on this CD with equal portions of supportiveness and apparent enjoyment... even on a disc packed with encore-like pieces, [the Litolff] stands out – not only for the high level of display it requires but also for the speed with which Litolff skillfully takes the music through a bewildering succession of keys that keep listeners’ ears (and possibly pianists’ fingers, although apparently not those of Pierce) quite uncertain about where things are going and what could possibly be coming next... the aim here is strictly to impress, to demonstrate a high level of skill in the service of music that may not be “great” but that serves its purpose – to delight and entertain – very well indeed.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [February 2020]
"Joshua Pierce has the opportunity to display his unusually broad scope as a pianist in Bravura. This is Pierce’s 24th release to date on the MSR Classics label, and it’s one of his best. Together with the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra under longtime collaborator Kirk Trevor, Pierce makes a highly attractive program of works over the past two centuries absolutely irresistible... [George Gershwin’s Variations on “I Got Rhythm” is] served up with style and flair... [Paul Turok's Ragtime Caprice is] based on a whole series of original ragtime-infused ideas and textures. In the hands of Joshua Pierce, the result comes across with more integrity than just a mere “cross-over.” In Turok’s words, it is “absolutely stunning.” … [Litloff’s Scherzo is] a rousing finish to a delightful program.”
Phil Muse, Atlanta Audio Club [February 2020]
"Some albums end up pleasing by way of a number of factors one cannot always predict before listening. [Joshua Pierce's Bravura] is for me a nice surprise in this way. [It is] a combination of fine performances and an interesting set of repertoire choices... In the end the program fascinates and percolates with excellent energy from Pierce and orchestra. It is music that at times is somewhat 'light' but that in the best sense of also being fun. It is a pleasure to hear this. Give it a spin and see if it does not coax a smile or two out of you as you listen."
Grego Applegate Edwards [January 2020]
PROGRAM NOTES
Although pianist Joshua Pierce is associated with the ‘serious’ Classical and Romantic repertoire and widely known for his involvement with modern and maverick music of more recent vintage – notably his long association with John Cage and microtonality – his remarkably wide scope also includes some of the more popular classics, ranging from the dances of the 19th century to more recent ragtime and jazz. His skill, virtuosity, wit and expressiveness span across an enormous variety of styles, and are well represented by this important collection of bravura classics from the past two centuries.” [Erik Salzman]


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 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 rediscovered masterpieces of the past – is rare among pianists. 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, 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 publications across the globe. 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, and the symphony orchestras of Utah, San Antonio and Missouri. He has collaborated with numerous musicians and chamber ensembles, including violinists Eric Friedman, Andrew Smith and Dan Auerbach as well as cellists Jeffrey Solow and Lawrence Zoernig, the Leontovich String Quartet and Chamber Players International. A prolific recording artist, Pierce can be heard in nearly 230 works on more than 65 CDs, including Beethoven and Brahms piano concertos, the complete piano with orchestra works of Gershwin and Liszt, and landmark recordings of keyboard music by John Cage as well as performances and recordings under the auspices of the American Festival of Microtonal Music, Inc. His recordings also include standard and lesser-known works by nearly two dozen other composers, from Bach to Britten. Pierce has recorded for a host of record labels, including MSR Classics, Wergo, Sony Classical, Virgin Classics, BBC Music Carlton Classics, Koch International, Mastersound, Albany, Centaur and Varese Sarabande. He has also performed for public radio and television round the world, including in the United States, Europe, Russia and South Korea. A highly respected contemporary music performer ‘and chamber music collaborator’, 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, The DiMenna Center and Weill Recital Hall. [ www.piercepiano.com ]
PROGRAM
RICHARD ADDINSELL (1904-1977)
Warsaw Concerto (1941)

GEORGE GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
Variations on “I Got Rhythm” (1934)

FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Variations on Mozart’s “Là ci darem la mano”, Op.2 (1830)

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)
Caprice-Valse, Op.76 “Wedding Cake” (1885)

WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING
PAUL TUROK (1929-2012)
Ragtime Caprice, Op.65 (1977)

FRANZ LISZT (1811-1886) | CARL MARIA VON WEBER (1786-1826)
Polonaise Brillante, Op.72 (1851)

FIRST RELEASE
DUKE ELLINGTON (1899-1974)
New World A-Comin’ (1945)

HENRY LITOLFF (1818-1891)
Scherzo from Concerto Symphonique No.4 in D minor, Op.102 (1852)
 



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