PIERCE & JONAS
MOZART: COMPLETE WORKS for TWO PIANOS
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
PIERCE & JONAS
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra
REVIEWS"Both keyboard artists perform in a bright, breezy way, with the dutiful maestro adding lustre to their interpretations".
Bill Newman, Music & Vision - January 2012
"The version on this disc [of Mozart's incomplete Allegro] melds careful editing by Pierce with bits of completions by Franz Beyer and Paul Badura-Skoda. The result is a cohesive and stylish tribute to Mozart. The Concerto receives a delightful treatment as Pierce and Jonas interact with seamless vibrancy. The pianists apply fine rhythmic propulsion to the quick outer movements, passing lines deftly from one to the other, knowking exactly when to predominate and when to lend support. In the slow movement, they're keely sensitive to the music's serene beauty, and conductor Paul Freeman and the Slovak Philharmonic are elegant colleagues. [In the solo works] Pierce and Jonas are assured, refined and articulate in these intimate scores as they are in the grander orchestral world."
Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone - November 2011
"These pieces are all exuberant examples of the joys of music-making. Maybe the two-piano works aren’t Mozart at his most profound, but they are the composer at his most attractively life-asserting. The Pierce and Jonas duo, who have been making music together since 1978, play with that spirit in mind. Their technical prowess and interpretive skills make these performances a pleasure to hear as the duo shapes the lovely slow movement of the Sonata with subtle rubato and delicately shaded dynamics. The fast movements are real powerhouses in their hands.
Well-known soloists such as Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu (on Sony) have recorded this music, but I find Pierce and Jonas competitive... The sound is full and very stereo... the other recordings, made at SUNY’s Purchase, New York, campus are quite fine, fully matching the performances. In all, this disc makes you wish there were more Mozart for Pierce and Jonas to play."
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition - September 2011
"These 1990’s recordings made in Bratislava, Slovakia and at SUNY Purchase show the duo-piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas at the top of their form, displaying the qualities that have made them world favorites. These include the precision of their sudden attack and phrase articulation, their mutual rapport as if they were two keyboard artists sharing the same thoughts, and the infectious joy with which they toss bold, engaging musical ideas back and forth.
Speaking of the latter, those bold ideas are much in evidence in Mozart’s altogether brilliant Concerto in E-flat, K365 for Two Pianos. Written originally for Mozart to perform with his sister “Nannerl,” who was as much a virtuoso as he, it opens with a typically bold gesture, rather than a melody, consisting of a downward octave plunge, an upward sixteenth run, and a downward E-flat chord, giving rise immediately to a soft, rising theme of great loveliness. The unfolding dialog between the two pianos is as evenly distributed as it is scintillating. In the opening movement, in particular, the music is wonderfully spacious, allowing both artists ample room for creative expression. It ends in a stunning double cadenza. The slow movement, an Andante, is refined, gracious, and discretely playful. The finale is a Rondo filled with imaginative energy, rhythmic drive, and plenty of good humor as the performers trade phrases with each other and the orchestra, ending exuberantly.
The Sonata in D, K448 for two Pianos, the only one of its kind that Mozart finished, is one of his most confident, self-assured works in any genre. Beginning with an ear-catching, sky-rocketing figure in octaves for both performers, it is distinguished for its interlocking melodies and stunning simultaneous cadences and its exhilarating runs and arpeggios. Though the primary purpose of this galante work is to entertain, there is a sudden change to a darker mood just before the conclusion of the Andante, until Mozart disperses the clouds at the end. With all the sophisticated effects the composer calls forth from two keyboards, who needs an orchestra?
The program concludes with two little-known, and therefore welcome, delights: the Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K546, in which the masterful fugue sallies forth in a “take-no-prisoners” mood, and a Larghetto and Allegro in E-flat Major. The last-named, a latter-day discovery (hence no Köchel number) is a tantalizing fragment in which the slow, thoughtful Larghetto gives no advance warning of the hi-jinks to follow in the Allegro, including the gracefully leaping second theme."
Audio Society of Atlanta, August 2011
“consummate technicians with marvelous articulation“
“Exceptional ensemble and glitter”
San Francisco Chronicle
“they displayed that sort of emotional and interpretive union that must be second nature to a two piano team”
New York Newsday
“skilled and idiomatic”
The Washington Post
“technically ingenious - a hand in glove performance”
The New York Times
“No performers have done more to bring 20th-century repertory for two pianos and orchestra to the listener’s attention than the duo-piano team of Pierce and Jonas”
PROGRAM NOTESOne of the most imaginative and compelling duo piano teams, Pierce & Jonas have been successfully performing and recording the unusual and neglected two piano repertoire of the 19th and 20th centuries since the mid-1980s. The duo has appeared with many symphony orchestras world-wide including those of Houston, San Antonio, Mexico City and Luxembourg as well as the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, National Symphony of Polish Radio and Television, (Katowice), Luxembourg Radio Symphony, Slovak Philharmonic, State Philharmonic of Kosice, Czech Radio Symphony, Orchestra da Camera di Roma, Chicago Sinfonietta, San Antonio Symphony, Philharmonia Virtuosi and the Utah Symphony. Among their many recent performances include concert appearances in San Diego, Tijuana, Baja, Bratislava, Slovakia and various cities in the Czech Republic.
The Pierce and Jonas duo has performed and recorded all the standard repertoire for two pianos and orchestra as well as introduced and recorded many important twentieth century works including Walter Piston’s Concerto for Two Pianos, Benjamin Britten’s Scottish Ballad, Morton Gould’s Dance Variations for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Paul Creston’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinu’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, as well as works by Nicolai Berezowsky, Francis Poulenc, Alexander Tansman and Gian Francisco Malipiero. Their recordings include John Cage’s Three Dances (Wergo), Charles Ives’ Three Pieces in Quartertones (Sony Classical and PITCH) along with the Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra (MMC) by the late American composer Robert Starer, who chose the Duo to give the European premier of the work.
In 1984, world-renowned Academy Award winning composer, Miklos Rozsa, offered to write for the team a work which became the Spellbound Concerto Fantasie for Two Pianos and Orchestra (a work twice as long as the original Spellbound score, including material not used on the original soundtrack). He also wrote for “Pierce & Jonas” his New England Concerto for Two Pianos based on music from the films Lydia and Time Out of Mind. The premier performance took place at Salt Lake City and at Snowbird with the Utah Symphony Orchestra, critically acclaimed performances that resulted in the team being invited to give a Command Performance for the Royal Family with the Philharmonia Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall. In 1997, Pierce & Jonas gave the world premier performance of the Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra, composed for them by William Thomas McKinley, with the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Vladimir Valek in Prague. In 1999, Helicon released the world premiere recording of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize winning Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra (1953) by William Porter.
Starting in 1992, Mr. Pierce and Ms. Jonas presented a unique and exciting series of performances at CAMI Hall, New York University and at MicroFest in Trenton, New Jersey as part of Johnny Reinhard’s American Festival of MicroTonal Music. They presented first performances of two piano works by Stefen Konicek (Preludium, Blues and Toccata) and Roland Moser’s Homage AO as well as two-piano works by Alan Hohvaness, Mordecai Sandberg, Ivan Wyschnegradsky, Bruce Mather and Charles Ives.
Paul Freeman was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1936 and studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester and at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He was music director of the Opera Theater of Rochester for six years and from 1979 to 1989 was music director of the Victoria Symphony in Canada and associate conductor of the Dallas and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. In 1987 he founded the Chicago Sinfonietta and in 1996 was appointed music director and chief conductor of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in Prague, a position he holds simultaneously with the Chicago post. He has received many honors, including the Mahler Award for European Union of the Arts and has conducted more than 100 orchestras in 30 countries. Mr. Freeman has some 200 recordings to his credit including a nine-disc series tracing the history of black symphonic composers from 1750 to the present.
Founded in August 1968, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra quickly attained worldwide recognition due to the quality of its membership, and its ability to interpret a diverse repertoire. The rich discography of the ensemble is proof of their versatility. Their recordings of rarely heard works by composers such as Furtwangler, Raff, Rubinstein, Spohr and Waldteufel are in many cases world premieres, and have earned high praise from press and public alike. The orchestra is well-known and respected in the major cultural centers of Europe, Asia, United States and Mexico, and has collaborated with world renowned solo artists and conductors such as Luciano Pavarotti, Valery Gergiev, Emin Khachaturian, Igor Oistrakh, Jiri Belohlavek, Alexander Rahbari, Libor Pesek and others.
PROGRAMWOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART
Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat major, K.365
Sonata for Two Pianos in D major, K.448
Adagio and Fugue in C minor, K.546 / K.426
Larghetto and Allegro in E-flat major