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Curious and Evocative

Quarter-tone keyboard music
played by Joshuua Pierce,
reviewed by

American Festival of Microtonal Music    P-200207

Pianist Joshua Pierce - Hovhaness, Ives, Cage, Ohana, Moser, Konicek, Bonotto and Wyschnegradsky. © 2006 Americal Festival of Microtonal Music

Joshua Pierce has a notable interest in quarter-tone keyboard music, and clearly there has been undoubted enthusiasm for work in this medium by a wide range of composers, several included on this innovative disc. Once the ear is attuned, the music becomes fascinating and, when seriously composed, it is well worth the exploration. Alan Hovhaness (who told me he often dreamed his music and sometimes had to rewrite when he had the dream again!) produced as his opus 276 (his total at his death in 2000 was over 500) three beautiful little pieces called O Lord, Bless Thy Mountains played on this disc, as all the duet pieces, by Pierce and Dorothy Jonas.

Listen -- Hovhaness: O Lord, Bless Thy Mountains
© 2006 American Festival of Microtonal Music (track 1, 0:45-1:30)

A group of pieces by Swiss composer Roland Moser include breathtaking snapshots, and Stepan Konicek, a composer from Czechoslovakia, has compiled three fine pieces -- Praeludium, Blues und Toccata -- from which this is the hectic Toccata.

Listen -- Stepan Konicek: Toccata
© 2006 American Festival of Microtonal Music (track 12, 0:00-0:22)

There are also duets by Charles Ives (Three Quarter-tone Pieces of 1921) and a solo piece by John Cage, Daughters of the Lonesome Isle written for prepared piano as a dance piece in 1945.

Pierce is joined by composer Johnny Reinhard on bassoon for his own arrangement of Meditation on deux themes, written in 1917 by Ivan Wyschnegradsky, and by cellist Jodi Beder for Maurice Ohana's Syrtes, a piece commissioned in 1970 by Rostropovich.

A curious and evocative piece by Robert Bonotto for viola, cello, piano and bells takes as its starting point an apparent appreciation by Sibelius for the cuckoo he heard in woodlands around his home -- Sibelius and the Cuckoo of Jarvenpââ -- an intriguing five minutes.

Listen -- Robert Bonotto: Sibelius and the Cuckoo of Jarvenpââ
© 2006 American Festival of Microtonal Music (track 4, 0:00-1:08)

Copyright © 14 July 2008 Patric Standford, Wakefield UK


Pianist Joshua Pierce

P-200207 Stereo FIRST RELEASE 63'34" 2006 American Festival of Microtonal Music Inc

Joshua Pierce, piano and prepared piano

Alan Hovhaness: O Lord, Bless Thy Mountains Op 276 (3 movements) (with Dorothy Jonas, piano); Robert Bonotto: Sibelius and the Cuckoo of Järvenpää (with David Gold, viola; Dave Eggar, cello; Tom Goldstein, bells); Ivan Wyschnegradsky: Meditation sur deux themes (with Johnny Reinhard, bassoon); Roland Moser: Kabinett mit Vierteltönen (Zwitterten; Melodia per una voce sola; Schnell (after a perpetual motion) (with Dorothy Jonas, piano); John Cage: Daughters of the Lonesome Isle for prepared piano; Stepan Konicek: Praeludium, Blues und Toccata (Praeludium; Blues; Toccata) (with Dorothy Jonas, piano); Maurice Ohana: Syrtes (with Jodi Beder, cello); Charles Ives: Three Quarter-tone Pieces (Largo, very slowly; Allegro; Chorale) (with Dorothy Jonas, piano)




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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular series of shorter CD reviews