Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) : Concerto No.1 in D Minor for Keyboard & Strings, BWV 1052
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) : The Four Temperaments - Theme with four Variations for piano & Strings
Ernest Bloch (1880-1959) : Concerto Grosso No.1 for String Orchestra with Piano obligato
Keyboards were used with strings from a very early period in European music but their original function was to supply the so-called continuo part, a kind of rhythmic, harmonic underpinning to the baroque orchestra. Early instrumental music for strings took on the name concerto or concerto grosso. The two first violins and first cello were known collectively as the little concerto or concertino and the rest of the orchestra was known as the ripieno or, later, the tutti. If there was a soloist, it was usually the first violin although concertos for other solo instruments became popular in certain times and places (see the immense concerto output of Vivaldi). But the violin was always the solo instrument par excellence while the harpsichord long remained hidden behind the strings as a faithful accompanist.
Joshua Pierce is considered 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 re- discovered masterpieces of the past - is rare among the pianists of our day.
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, Artur Balsam, 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 a variety of publications including the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle; Downbeat, Keyboard and Billboard magazines; and overseas in Gramophone, BBC Music, The Strad, London Telegraph and The Guardian. 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, Capella Istropolitana and the symphony orchestras of Utah, San Antonio and Missouri. He has collaborated with violinists Eric Friedman and Julianne Klopotic, cellist Jeffrey Solow and Lawrence Zoernig, Russia’s Leontovich String Quartet, clarinetist Hideaki Aomori, Chamber Players International and numerous other chamber musicians and ensembles.
Pierce has recorded nearly 200 works on more than 50 CDs, including the complete piano concertos of Beethoven, Brahms, Gershwin and Liszt and landmark recordings of John Cage’s keyboard works. His recordings also include standard and lesser-known works by Bach, Britten, Casella, Chopin, Franck, Finzi, Khachaturian, Liszt, Malipiero, Martinu, Milhaud, Prokofiev, Rachmaninov, Respighi, Rimsky-Korsakov, Saint-Saens, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss and Tchaikovsky. He has recorded for a host of record labels, including MSR Classics, Wergo, Sony Classical, Virgin Classics, Carleton Classics, Koch International, Mastersound, Fanfare, Pro Arte, Albany, MMC, Phoenix, Centaur, Premiere and Varese Sarabande. He has also performed for public radio and television in the United States, Europe, Russia and South Korea, and elsewhere. A well-known contemporary music performer, he has served as the Official Pianist and Artistic Advisor to the American Festival of MicroTonal Music Ensemble since 1983. 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 and Weill Recital Hall. In 2012, he received an Aaron Copland Fund for Music grant as well as two PSC-CUNY Research Award grants for his work on the World Premiere Recording of Vincent Persichetti’s song cycle, Harmonium with soprano Sherry Overholt [MSR Classics: MS1432].