BRAHMS & RACHMANINOFFSonatas for Cello and Piano
Johannes Brahms, Sergei Rachmaninoff
MARY COSTANZA, cello
RAY PIERPONT, piano
"Cellist and Fairport, New York, native Mary Costanza and her collaborator on this album, pianist and Connecticut native Ray Pierpont, have both shown a principal commitment to the art of music itself. That sort of dedication helps make the performances we hear on the present release by MSR Classics as truly compelling as they are."
Phil Music, Atlanta Audio Club [March 2022]
[On Costanza's recordings of J.S. Bach's Cello Suites] "Costanza produces a rich, full-blooded tone… Her performances evince an innate sense of style. Pacing, phrasing, tempi and dynamic contrasts are all convincing. Intonation is spotless. Her technique is formidable and she performs these masterworks in a cultivated and compelling way… admirers of these works will not be disappointed. I found them an enriching experience."
PROGRAM NOTESBorn and raised in Fairport, New York, Mary Costanza studied with Lynn Khale Richmond, a graduate of the Curtis Institute and the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. At age 17, Mary won the prestigious Albright Award sponsored by the Rochester Philharmonic and the Eastman Theatre and as a result performed Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D minor as a soloist with the orchestra. During her high school years, she performed as Principal Cellist for the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga, New York. Costanza attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received her BM degree under the tutelage of Stephen Geber, Principal Cellist of the Cleveland Orchestra. During that time, she regularly performed as a member of the Canton Symphony under the direction of Gerhardt Zimmerman and received fellowships to attend the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California and the Blossom Music Festival. After receiving her undergraduate degree, Costanza earned a fellowship to perform with the National Orchestral Association under the direction of Alvaro Cassuto. The NOA performed in Carnegie Hall for a full season of concerts sponsored by the New York Philharmonic and Columbia University in New York. She also served as a member of the Rochester Philharmonic during their summer season at the Canandaigua Performing Arts Center. She was accepted to The Juilliard School where she studied with Zara Nelsova. Costanza was also awarded annual fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival to continue her studies with Nelsova. Mary, who holds a MM degree from the Juilliard School, maintains a thriving private cello studio in Connecticut that serves students of all ages (8 to 88). She regularly presents solo recitals and performs with numerous ensembles in the region. She is currently Assistant Principal Cellist of the Greenwich Symphony Orchestra under the direction of David Gilbert (Emeritus) and served for many years in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Mary is on the music faculty at the Frederick Gunn School, and served for many years at the Hotchkiss School where she has been an instructor in cello for more than 15 years. Mary is currently a member the SONORO ensemble, created by composer Sharon Ruchman, which performs and records her original compositions.
Ray Pierpont, a Connecticut native, lived in Meriden, Connecticut during his formative years, beginning his piano studies at the age of nine. After some years, Pierpont won several local awards, culminating with the top prize in the Meriden Symphony’s Young Artist Award, and solo performances during the Symphony’s concert season. Pierpont continued studies at the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, where he studied piano with Anne Koscielny and Raymond Hanson. During his undergraduate time, he regularly performed as accompanist to singers and instrumentalists, and was chosen as one of a group of pianists to perform four Sonatas in the 32 Beethoven Sonata Recital Series at the school. Upon receiving his BM degree in piano, Pierpont was accepted to the Boston University College for the Arts where he studied piano with Anthony di Bonaventura. During this period, he collaborated with vocalists and instrumentalists, and as a member of the Chamber Music Program was coached by Eugene Lehner, violist for the Kolisch Quartet. Pierpont ultimately received his MM degree in piano performance in 1980. He also attended the Colby College Summer Piano Institute in Maine, working with di Bonaventura for three summers. Pierpont is currently on the music faculty as an instructor of piano at the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut, with which he has been associated for nearly 40 years; he performs solo and collaborative concerts there yearly. Previously employed by the Wykeham Rise School for girls and the Frederick Gunn School, both in Washington, Connecticut, Pierpont currently serves as Minister of Music at the DeWitt Reformed Church in New York, where he has been the senior choir director for the past 32 years. He has given solo and chamber music recitals throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York, and recently collaborated with violinist Simone Porter during the Pilobolus 2019 Five Senses Arts Festival.
PROGRAMJOHANNES BRAHMS (1833-1897)
CELLO SONATA NO. 1 IN E MINOR, OP.38 (1866)
 I. Allegro non troppo
 II. Allegretto quasi Menuetto
 III. Allegro
SERGEI RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
SONATA FOR CELLO AND PIANO IN G MINOR, OP.19 (1901)
 I. Lento-Allegro moderato
 II. Allegro scherzando
 III. Andante
 IV. Allegro mosso
Recorded 16-18 March 2016 at the Katherine M. Elfers Hall of the Esther Eastman Music Center, The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Connecticut. A Candlewood Digital Natural Presence recording: Produced, engineered and edited by Wayne Hileman; Mastered by Richard Price.