Joshua Pierce Plays Russian Piano Concertos
(MSR CLASSICS 2 CD MS 1464)
Composers: Tchaikovsky/Rimsky-Korsakov/ Khachaturian/Shostakovich/Prokofiev
Performers: Joshus Pierce, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, RTV Symphony Orchestra of Slovenia, Slovak National Symphony Orchestra
Conductors: Paul Freeman, Kirk Trevor
Program: Piano Concerto in B-Flat Minor OP. 23, Piano Concerto No.3 in E-Flat Major, OP.75, Piano Concerto in C-Sharp Minor, OP.30, Piano Concerto in D-Flat Major, Piano Concerto No.2 in F Major, 0P.102, Piano Concerto No.1 in D-Flat Major, OP.10
"A fine tribute to Pierce’s pianism with considerable élan and technique to spare" ...more - Mark J. Estren, Infodad.com, May 2016
"Performed with idiomatic flair and pathos by renowned pianist Joshua Pierce. One won't hear more emphatic, honest and engrossing performances of these masterpieces than those featured here." - Rob LaPorta, A&R of MSR Classics
"Scintillating, Warm and Vigorous, Beautifully Paced" - American Record Guide, July/August, 2016
"In a "classic" program of concertos by J.S. Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn, pianist Joshua Pierce in his usual manner imbues each work with a combination of technical precision and a warm, musical spirit; these recordings feel perfectly, naturally "right". - Rob LaPorta, A&R of MSR Classics
Joshua Pierce Plays
Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn
Composers: Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn
Performers: Joshua Pierce, Slovak National Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Kirk Trevor
Program: PIANO CONCERTO IN D MAJOR, Hob.XVIII, PIANO CONCERTO IN A MINOR (1821/22), KEYBOARD CONCERTO NO. 5 IN F MINOR, BWV 1056
"Joshua Pierce is a supreme example of a top-flight concert pianist who‟s chosen to take “the road less traveled,” and he‟s done well with it"
I admire New York City native 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's 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, and he has more than 60 albums to his credit. For whatever reason, he has preferred a life as a world traveler instead of just hitting the double-handful of big time concert halls in North America and Western Europe. Maybe he has chosen worldwide mobility over instant acclaim because he acquired, earlier in his career, the reputation of being a “John Cage specialist” (and Cage, as we know, can be a hard rap to beat!)
At any rate, 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. I'd mostly thought of him as an explorer in search of the red meat of the romantic and modern repertoire, so it's 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, BWV1056 and Haydn's Concerto No. 11 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 (1822), a somewhat neglected work that is certain to acquire new friends with this performance.
The Haydn is taken with bracing but not breakneck tempi, allowing the galante elements in the music and the delicious interplay between soloist and orchestra plenty of opportunity to be enjoyed. The noble arioso in the Adagio is particularly notable for its gracious expression. That makes the strongest contrast imaginable with the spirited finale, billed as Rondo all’Ungarese (Hungarian Rondo) but actually based on an authentic Bosnian / Dalmatian folk dance. This rousing finale builds to an exciting climax with antiphonal effects between soloist and orchestra. At one point, the pianist makes a stunning shift in registration that is somewhat harder to do on the piano than when this concerto is played in the alternate version for a two-manual harpsichord.
- Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta, May 2016
"Here’s an imaginative bouquet of three baroque concertos 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." - Peter J. Rabinowitz, Issue 37:2, Fanfare Nov/Dec 2013
Joshua Pierce Plays
Bach, Hindemith and Bloch
Composers: Bach, Hindesmith and Bloch
Performers: Joshua Pierce, Capella Istropolitana, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra
Conductor: Kirk Trevor
PROGRAM: KEYBOARD CONCERTO NO. 1 IN D MINOR, BWV 1052, THE FOUR
TEMPERAMENTS - THEME AND VARIATIONS FOR PIANO & STRINGS, CONCERTO GROSSO
NO.1 FOR STRING ORCHESTRA WITH PIANO OBBLIGATO
"Here’s a refreshing program, crisply and smartly played…" - Hansen, American Record Guide (January/February 2014)
"A particularly note worthy release: "Legacy of Songs", featuring premiere recordings of works (many of which are unpublished) by Vincent Persichetti. Baritone Lee Velta and soprano Sherry Overholt bring these gems to life, with sensitive and authoritative support from pianist Joshua Pierce." - Rob LaPorta, A&R of MSR Classics
"Velta and Overholt both handle the music skillfully and with careful control and considerable sensitivity, and Pierce’s pianism is exemplary throughout." - Mark J. Estren, Infodad, June, 2016
"LEGACY OF SONGS"
Unpublished Songs On Poetical Texts
Composer: Vincent Persichetti / Poetry by Various Authors
Performers: Lee Velta, Sherry Overholt, Joshua Pierce
1. Two e.e. cummings Songs, Op. 26 (1945)
2. Two Chinese Songs, Op. 29 (1945)
3. Three 17th Century English Songs, Op.49 (1951)
4. Four Sara Teasdale Songs, Op. 72 (1957)
5. Two Carl Sandberg Songs, OP. 73 (1957)
6. Three James Joyce Songs, Op. 74 (1957)
7. Two Hilaire Belloc Songs, Op. 75 (1957)
8. Two Robert Frost songs, Op. 76 (1957)
9. Four Emily Dickinson Songs, Op.77 (1957)
10. A Net of Fireflies - Song Cycle, Op. 115 (1970)
“The music on this disc is first-rate and is unavailable elsewhere. For that reason I give the recording an enthusiastic recommendation.... Joshua Pierce’s accompaniments are skillful and sensitive—virtually ideal renditions of the music... I strongly encourage readers to become acquainted with these songs.
- Myron Silberstein, Fanfare [May/June 2016]
Song Cycle for Soprano and Piano
Composer: Vincent Persichetti
Poetry By Wallace Stevens
Performers: Sherry Overholt & Joshua Pierce
"This may be the best performance we hear of the Harmonium." - Mel Martin, Audiophile Audition (July 2013)
Joshua Pierce receive a major grant
from The Aaron Copland Fund For Music, Inc. 2012
In Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of John Cage (1912-1992)
"...either hypnotic or annoyingly eccentric. Pierce's technique, dynamics and nuanced tempos project a feeling of confidence and intelligent understanding." - Ron Bierman, Music & Vision, April, 2013
John Cage: A Tribute
FOUR WALLS (1944), PRIMITIVE (1942), IN THE NAME OF THE HOLOCAUST (1942), QUEST (1935), OUR SPIRNG WILL COME (1948), PRELUDE (PIANO SEXTET) IN A MINOR FOR SIX INSTRUMENTS (1946), OPHELIA (1946), SONATAS AND INTERLUDES FOR PREPARED PIANO (1946-1948), THREE EARLY SONGS (1933), TWO PIECES FOR PIANO (1946), MUSIC FOR MARCEL DUCHAMP (1947), SPONTANEOUS EARTH (1944), THREE EASY PIECES FOR PIANO (1933), THE UNAVAILABLE MEMORY OF (1944), TWO PIECES FOR PIANO (1935/rev.1974)
John Cage 100 / Various artists (Wergo)
"Wergo’s handsomely produced box set was assembled for last year’s 2012 John Cage centenary. Fans will lap it up, and one hopes that curious newcomers will take the plunge and open their ears to this extraordinary, approachable music. Joshua Pierce’s 1970s album of the Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano still sounds definitive. Cage’s Table of Preparations is included in the booklet, listing in alarming detail the position, size and orientation of every bolt, washer and screw inserted in Pierce’s piano. Inevitably, you start to wonder if the bell-like sounds and echoes of gamelan music would come across differently if the screws were placed at random. Still, the wonder lies in hearing these tiny pieces packing an expressive punch out all proportion to their miniature scale."
Graham Dickson, www.theartsdesk.com February 2, 2013, United Kingdom
"Almost the first thing you'll notice about Pierce's playing is the steady, calm yet totally confident command with which he paces and navigates through the intricacies of some of the composer's most engaging and enticing works for solo piano. Tenor Robert White also sings with a nice mix of precision and conviction, projection and restraint in the interlude, Act One – VII of Four Walls and the Three Early Songs [CD.2 tr.s 20-22]. The American Festival of Microtonal Music Ensemble makes the "Piano Sextet – Prelude for six instruments" [CD.1 tr.21] equally memorable. But Pierce's depths and reach as a performer extend much further. He manages to follow Cage's contours without emphasizing them; to accentuate the rhythmic without losing spontaneity; and to introduce color without over-sweetening the harmonics."
Read Mark Sealey's December 12, 2012 Classical.Net review here
"The highlight on this set is the transcendent live performance by Pierce of Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano."
Whittington's Concertonet.com review here
John Cage 2-CD set was featured on Q2 Music's (WQXR's online station for contemporary music) Album of the Week for August 24 - August 31, 2012.
"There are few pianists as equipped to tackle the polarizing music of John Cage as powerfully as Joshua Pierce...Pierce’s balance of careful technique and violent abandon throughout offer a profound and accessible portrait of the landscape-changing composer." - Read the entire review here
For more reviews of John Cage: A Tribute, click here
New York Philharmonic Uses Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas' Performance of
Martinu's Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra as Part of Podcast.
Listen to the Program Here.
Great Review in Gramophone! Read it here.
Joshua Pierce Performs REVELATION - Michael Harrison's Music for the Harmonically Tuned Piano. Read a review of recent performances here.
“What a find this is! Joshua Pierce recorded five of the six Russian piano concertos in this 2-CD set in Eastern Europe between 1988 and 1991... Their reissue in superb remastering on MSR gives them a fair chance to be heard by a wider audience. This is a treasure trove of the best of Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Prokofiev, Shostakovich, and Khachaturian... From the opening of the ever-popular Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor by Tchaikovsky, we feel we are in for an exalted musical experience as both Pierce and conductor Paul Freeman are right on the money with its smartly-paced excitement... Pierce’s solid pianism includes a beautiful tone that stays amazingly limpid throughout the work’s wide dynamic range. This performance unflaggingly holds our interest... We’ve noted Joshua Pierce’s dynamic artistry in numerous places in the course of this review. His high-profile intensity in the fast, trenchant, and stunningly rhythmical passages speaks for itself, and he is just as keenly attuned to the warm, deeply felt moments in the slow movements of all these works.”
-Phil Muse, Audiophile Audition [January 2016]
Beethoven: Five Piano Concertos
I have listened to this set over and over, and each time, I hear more of the nuance in Pierce's playing, especially in Piano Concerto #4. And the Finale of the First Concerto, has a clarity to it I have not heard before. I love this set. It's lyrically exhilarating! An amazing series. an amazing CD.
- Veritasitude on 03/19/07
John Cage: Sonatas & Interludes for prepared Piano
piano as percussion orchestra
In an effort to find new ways to use the piano, Cage came upon the idea of inserting objects on the strings such as nuts, bolts, erasers, cutlery, and so on. What he got was a wonderful percussion orchestra that makes these charming pieces so special.
Much of the music is very rhythmic and driving and does not in fact sound too much unlike an Indonesian Gamelan. Other music is more spacious and lets the intriguingly novel sonorities resonate and sink in. Cage was very specific about exactly what materials should be used to "prepare" the piano and where those materials go. I appreciate that the booklet that comes with the CD gives a list of all the preparations used.
This CD will both open your ears to what is possible with the piano and make a delightful addition to your record collection, even if you are new to new music.
Pianist Joshua Pierce plays these pieces very well with a nice integration of invention and seriousness.
- klangfarbenguy on 01/05/05
Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas perform Rare Works for Two Pianos and Orchestra
The indefatigable explorers Pierce and Jonas score a new winner
I had enjoyed the previous Pierce and Jonas disc devoted to compositions for two pianos and orchestra by Walter Piston, Quincy Porter and Morton Gould (American Music for Two Pianos and Orchestra), and I am very much into the music of Roy Harris these days, so this was the obvious next step. As it turns out the duet of indefatigable discoverers, have scored a new winner, at least with Dubois and Harris.
Pierre Max Dubois (1930-1995), though a prolific composer, is an obscure figure of the 20th Century music world, even in his native country France. When, after the war, composers of his generations launched themselves with a vengeance in the explorations of new music paths, he was content to remain in a tonal idiom, true to his master Milhaud. To him music was first and foremost entertainment. Within those limits his Two-Piano Concerto is a highly enjoyable work and a fine discovery. The outer movements have the dynamic boisterousness of Poulenc and rich and dynamic interplay between both solo instruments, and there is a touching wistfulness and simplicity in the second movement.
-Discophage TOP 500 REVIEWER on 01/30/08
Lovely recording of unique works.
Crystal clear recording of very listenable contemporary music. Amazingly a Czech Orchestra can perform Roy Harris so well. This will probably never be recorded again. Try this -- you won't be disappointed by either the music or the quality of the playing!
By EKO on 01/25/07
Mendelssohn: Concertos Nos. 1 & 2 for 2 Pianos & Orchestra
Unusually good Mendelssohn, beautifully performed
Mendelssohn seems to be one of those unpredictable composers who does not maintain a recognizable style but instead will write a romantic piece, or a post-baroque, or something pre-avant garde. I'm never certain what I'll get when I purchase an album with his compositions. I bought this album because it promised dual pianos, so curiosity drove me and not expectation. I was completely and happily surprised. The two concertos are not only fluid and romantic, but the pianos resound with a crisp sound that is highlighted against the orchestra. Pierce and Jonas, the pianists, are remarkable. Their playing is neither too driven, such as in some of the key-pounders one finds today, nor too delicate. Instead, they are playing Mendelssohn and they want you to know it. Their coordination is magnificent, as if they'd played together since birth. These are fairly obscure concertos which deserve much more attention, ranking up there with the violin concertos! If you are hesitating about purchasing this album, don't. The recorded sound is crisp and clear, the music fluid and masterful. Lovely and entertaining, I could (and did) listen to it for hours.
- A Customer on 01/03,/01
A pleasant surprise
Yeah, I'll admit it: When I saw "Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra" and the names of two unknown pianists, I hesitated to buy this CD. I ended up buying it anyway, though, because it was such a bargain price, and I found I shouldn't have worried. These performances of these sparkling Mendelssohn works (if "sparkling Mendelssohn" isn't redundant) are energetic, crisp and clear, with true virtuoso playing from the soloists. I was already familiar with these concertos and I had pretty strict standards regarding how they should be played, but Pierce and Jonas met those standards without missing a beat (so to speak). You can really hear Mendelssohn's youthful, innocent genius shining through in their performances, which are matched by vivacious and competent orchestral backing. It's just a flurry of notes from beginning to end, and these soloists and this orchestra make every one enjoyable. Basically, this CD's price is bottom-of-the-barrel, but the performances it contains are anything but. Isn't that the kind of thing we music lovers like to hear!
- Ryan Richards on 06/29/03