Joshua Pierce


Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas (Piano), Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra, Bystrìk Rezucha
Recording: House of Art, Kosice, Slovakia (October 26-27, 1995 and November 1-2, 1995) – 70’27   /   MSR Classics MS 1330

The Latin term felix, translating as “happy”, was a most propitious first name given to Abraham and Lea Mendelssohns’ second child. Having been surrounded by fine arts while growing up would only enhance the musical juices flowing inside the head of Felix Mendelssohn.

Felix Mendelssohn’s quotation, “The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety”, is something we should bear in mind while listening to these two structurally similar and marvelous pieces. The Concerto no. 1 in E Major and the Concerto no. 2 in A-flat Major were composed by the prodigious youth at the age of 14 and 15, respectively. Both passages are teeming with a great sense of organization but lightened with capricious delectation.

Performing this pairing is no small feat. For 20 years Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas have canvassed composers’ works that feature a set of keyboards, and the range of styles and flavor is varied. Bystrìk Rezucha somersaults through this electrifying music that brings reconfirmation of Mendelssohn’s genius.

The first selection begins with the relevant outcomes of the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra which entrées into the two pianos. Reminiscent of Beethoven and to some degree Mozart, the capitulations are superb and polished. The middle movement “Adagio non troppo – Più mosso” gives the listener a breather from the intensity of the opening segment with an initial hymn-like harmony fed from the orchestra. The spotlight soon turns to the piano with Pierce’s and Jonas’ thoughtful reflections and stately, effervescent scales; trills are acute and pleasing. After this respite, Mendelssohn returns to a racier cadence in the “Allegro – Con fuoco” setting the piece ablaze; the final portion has Pierce and Jonas playing scherzando staccatos with snappy accuracy.

Two allegro portions bracket the interior “Andante” in Mendelssohn’s Concerto no. 2. The opening performance on November 12, 1824, featuring Mendelssohn himself along with teacher Ignaz Moscheles must have been a sight to behold. An emphatic three note reminder anticipates Mendelssohn’s creation two years later in the “Scherzo” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Returning to the composition’s theme, Pierce and Jonas argue a grand musical case in the “Allegro vivace – Più presto” by consistently building anticipation until the movement’s final, yet sudden climax.

As in the previous concerto, the Concerto no. 2 invokes religious overtones, pleasing to the ear with copious legatos. Both keyboardists use rinforzando notes to convey the softer side of the piece. The “Allegro vivace - Più presto” winds up in an occasionally interrupted gallop, enabling the artists an opportunity to similarly (ref: the second movement of Concerto no. 1) pause for a moment before settling into a rollicking departure. This ultimately summarizes Felix Mendelssohn’s unbridled happiness.

Rezucha’s sufficient tempo allows Pierce and Jonas room for fingering the dexterous demands without creating sloppiness. Paraphrasing the earlier Mendelssohn quip, these creations have indelible, likeable variations within a unified tonal scope.
- Christie Grimstad, ~ November 18, 2012

"Mozart 'doubles' from Pierce and Jonas"

MOZART: Complete Works for Two Pianos
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 – Pierce and Jonas, duo pianists
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Freeman
MSR Classics MS 1390 [Distr. Albany], 63:56

Mozart composed less than a handful of pieces for two pianos, starting with the concerto he performed with his older sister, Nannerl. He also wrote a sonata (a seminal piece in the duo-piano repertory) and an Adagio and Fugue that were composed at different times but later paired.

Pianists Pierce and Jonas end their recording of the Mozart works for two pianos with a curiosity: a searching Larghetto followed by a sprightly Allegro that Mozart left incomplete but which others finished. The version on this disc 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 K365 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, knowing exactly when to predominate and when to lend support. In the slow movement, they're keenly sensitive to the music's serene beauty, and the conductor Paul Freeman and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra are excellent colleagues. Something of an acoustic jolt occurs between the ambiance of the live concerto performance in Brataslava and the studio environment at SUNY Purchase where other pieces were recorded. What was slightly distant in the concerto becomes crystal-clear in the music for two pianos alone. Pierce and Jonas are as assured, refined and articulate in these intimate scores as they are in the grander orchestral world.
  - Donald Rosenberg, Gramophone ~ November, 2011



"Life-asserting music from Mozart; too bad there aren't more two-piano works in his catalog."

MOZART: Complete Works for Two Pianos
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 – Pierce and Jonas, duo pianists
Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra / Paul Freeman
MSR Classics MS 1390 [Distr. Albany], 63:56

Here we do seem to have the complete works by Mozart for two pianos. Unless manuscripts are lurking somewhere in attics, libraries, or curio shops, this is it. Indeed, the Mozart canon was fairly recently expanded by the discovery, in 1963, of the incomplete Larghetto and Allegro for two pianos. The Allegro consists only of an exposition; to create a performing version, a development and recapitulation-coda were crafted by several hands. The version played by the Pierce and Jonas duo represents a conflation of the work of Franz Beyer and Paul Badura-Skoda. It sounds pretty convincing to me; I don't notice any seams or joins.

Given Mozart's connections and his skills as a pianist, it seems odd that there isn't more two-piano music from him. Early in his career, he formed a virtuoso duo with his older sister, Nannerl, performing widely for the nobility. Yet the only two-piano work we have that connects the two is the Concerto No. 10 for Two Pianos of 1779, written for Mozart and his sister to play. Shortly afterward, the composer left Nannerl and his native Salzburg for Vienna. The other works on this disc are from Mozart's Vienna years. The Concerto was originally scored for an orchestra of strings, oboes, bassoons, and horns. Later, in Vienna, with its more advanced instrumental resources, Mozart added two clarinets, two trumpets, and timpani, which makes the piece sound much more extrovert and festive. However, even without the added instruments, the work is a showcase for the pianists, who get to show off in their very first entry with a loud octave trill followed by various pyrotechnics that would have challenged most pianists of the day. Like the first movement, the slow movement is in sonata-allegro form but is restrained, patrician in character, touched with a fleeting melancholy at one point in the development, where the minor key intrudes. In contrast, the buoyant rondo finale is all smiles. It's easy to see why this has always been among Mozart's most popular concertos.

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. In the Concerto, taken from a live recording made in Bratislava in 1993, there are the usual slight lapses in ensemble, and the orchestra gets off to a start that isn't as sparkling as it might be (though the players catch fire later). But this performance, too, is mostly admirable. The sound is full and very stereo even if it isn't the ultimate word in transparency. However, 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, ~ September 20, 2011


...the infectious joy with which they toss bold, engaging musical ideas back and forth.

Mozart: Complete Works for Two Pianos
Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas
Paul Freeman conducts the Slovak Philharmonic
MSR Classics 1390

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 only to rise with renewed élan for the triumphant conclusion, as the bass does here.
- Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta ~ September, 2011

...spirited and imaginative interplay of the two pianos

"In these 1995 Mendelssohn performances by the famed duo of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, one notices many instances of the spirited and imaginative interplay of the two pianos with each other and with the orchestra, which is the hallmark of the duo concerto style... In Concerto No.2, the Pierce-Jonas Duo, once again with the able collaboration of the Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra under Bystrik Rezucha, revel in the yet more sophisticated counterpoint and the beautifully balanced interplay between the orchestral strings and winds, between the two keyboards and the orchestra, and between each other as soloists. As with Concerto No. 1, Pierce, Jonas and friends succeed in capturing both the sheer excitement and the sense of fun inherent in the music."
- Phil Muse, Audio Video Club of Atlanta ~ July, 2009

...this is a thrilling performance of a work that never fails to please

"I always enjoy hearing unusual repertoire and this exciting disc certainly fits the bill. The label MSR Classics has compiled a disc titled Romantic Music for Two Pianos performed by the partnership of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas that includes eleven accessible scores. I love how the selection mixes established scores in their lesser known arrangements for two pianos, like Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre, with other scores that I only rarely encounter, such as those from Britten and Bax.

Throughout this recording the splendid partnership of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas communicate a close rapport conveying refreshing performances of exemplary ensemble. The release benefits from a pleasing sound quality.

The opening score and the earliest to be composed is Saint-Saëns's Danse macabre... this is a thrilling performance of a work that never fails to please.

Written in the USA in 1940 this two piano version of Rachmaninov's magnificent three movement orchestral suite is a great opportunity to hear the composer's original intentions prior to his later full orchestration of the score... Bristling with ideas the opening movement Non Allegro is performed briskly by the impressive duo with a vivacity and drive that contrasts greatly with the contemplative inner section.

The light-hearted Polka Italienne... is given an uplifting performance so immersed in summer sunshine. [In Rachmaninov's] Prélude in C sharp minor, the partnership develop the famous score from its heavy and cumbersome texture to a thrilling and vibrant journey.

Rachmaninov's delightful Russian Rhapsody is a student composition from the Moscow Conservatory. Long thought lost this folk-song infused score is given a terrific performance packed with exhilaration.

The Introduction and Rondo alla burlesca from 1940 is an earlier product of Britten's stay in the United States. One is aware of the driving forward momentum that Pierce and Jonas positively assign to their performance.

Bax composed The Poisoned Fountain in 1928 a work inspired by the Secret Well of Segais from his beloved Celtic mythology. This performance from Pierce and Jonas convincingly evokes an air of mystery and of flowing water from the well. [In his] Variations on a theme by Paganini...Lutoslawski utilised the last of Paganini's 24 Caprices for unaccompanied violin, successfully capturing in this interpretation from Pierce and Jonas the sparkling and carefree nature of the work."
- MusicWeb International ~ November 2008

The entire program is a gas ...

"[Pierce & Jonas'] precision ensemble is enhanced by their generally crisp and clean sound...they have individual and joint technical expertise that is hard to beat. Pierce and Jonas [in the Debussy-Ravel] get the nod over the illustrious recording by Josef and Rosina Lhevinne. The Lutoslawski Paganini Variations are also top notch...none of [Liszt's] brilliance is lost here. Pierce and Jonas'] Rachmaninoff let me hear some different things...and proved to be quite enjoyable...a worthy addition to Rachmaninoff and two-piano collections."
- American Record Guide ~ November / December 2008

stuning disc

"...a stunning disc."
-Turok's Choice ~ Issue No.204, November 2008

with flair.

"[Pierce and Jonas] meet the music's demands with flair..."
- BBC Music Magazine ~ November 2008

The entire program is a gas ...

"This reissue is intended to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Pierce & Jonas two-piano team. They have been performing and recording the usually neglected repertory of two-piano music from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as new works written especially for them, and are one of the top duo-piano teams in the world today. These recordings were made between 1979 and 1988, and they constitute a wonderful two-piano concert without a dud in the group.

The entire program is a gas, but my other favorite was the mysterious Poisoned Fountain of Bax. He was a fan of two-piano works and wrote several. He instructs the two pianists to play independently of one another - one doing strange medieval chords while the other does rolling arpeggios representing the flowing waters.

Sonics are fine; you two-channel holdouts should love this one: sit in your sweet spot and revel in the byplay of the two pianos on your left and right - there's just enough separation.
- John Sunier , Audiophile Audition, Aug. 7, 2008

For the love of two pianos

In Symphonic Dances, the famed duo-piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas celebrate their 30th anniversary in style. These MSR remasterings of 1979-1988 recordings of these artists playing colorful and thrilling works by romantic and modern composers haven't aged a day. In terms of sonority, timbres, and a dazzling palette of tone colors, only the symphony orchestra can rival what we have here with two artists of the keyboard playing in communication with each other, the composer, and the listener.

The program is varied and attractive. It begins with Camille Saint-Saëns' ghostly Danse Macabre with its familiar zig-zag rhythms under the melody. The clatter of the dancing bones and the discordant harmony are beautifully re-created here.

Then we have a major work by Sergei Rachmaninov, his Symphonic Dances, Op.45, in the original two-piano version that was later scored for orchestra. It is in three movements, the first a brisk but funereal march, the second a slow waltz in a darkened ballroom, with a quote from the chant for the dead Dies Irae, which was a recurring motif in Rachmaninov's career. The third is a dance of death, but with an uplifting coda (recaptured very effectively in this performance) that the composer based on the "Alleluja" from his Vespers.

The good work in the name of Rachmaninov continues with a charming Polka Italienne, a portentous account of the ever-popular Prelude in C-Sharp Minor with its crashing octaves and sonorous chords, and a spirited account of the rousing Russian Rhapsody that makes us realize how much fun the duo-piano repertoire must be to perform as well as listen to.

Next, we have two highly animated, lively works by Benjamin Britten, his Mazurka Elegaica, and Introduction and Rondo alla Burlesca, and The Poisoned Fountain by Arnold Bax, the last-named mysterious, colorful and flowing, as befits the subject. Arthur Benjamin's Jamaica Rhumba glories in the colorful rhythms of that Latin dance.

Claude Debussy's Fètes (Festivals) from Trois Nocturnes, heard here in the two-piano version of Maurice Ravel, gives Pierce and Jonas the opportunity to revel in its highly characterized writing and its subtle rhythmic variety. Finally, Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski's Variations on a Theme by Paganini presents a dozen light-hearted, if occasionally edgy variations of the same resilient theme that Brahms, Rachmaninov and others had mined so extensively.
- Atlanta Audio Society, August 2008

Strongly recommended, and lots of fun ...

"Microtones – they're not for everybody. Actually, given the abstract, mathematical quality of the idea of exploiting the spaces in between the notes of the diatonic scale, it's surprising to find that the predominant mood in this program of mostly duo works is a kind of Romantic lyricism. Indeed, many of the works are programmatic. Alan Hovhaness' O Lord. Bless Thy Mountains, Op. 276, was inspired by the multiple mountain ranges rising from Seattle, WA, and uses pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart simply to depict the giddy sensation of exponentially displaced horizon lines. Robert Bonotto's entertaining trio-plus-bells quartet Sibelius and the Cuckoo of Jarvenpää puts the birdcall in the odd tuning, and Czech composer Stepan Konicek has the related idea of using microtones to intensify blues – a language that already makes use of microtonal slides. (The music doesn't really sound like blues, however; Konicek deploys the microtones throughout instead of limiting them to the specific places where they may occur in the blues genre). Even where the uses of microtones are more abstract, as in the pioneering Three Quarter-Tone Pieces from the end of Charles Ives' life, the structures of the music are clear and often arresting. This is due in part, of course, to the confident performances of pianist Joshua Pierce, augmented as needed by duo-piano partner Dorothy Jonas or by other instrumentalists. The program benefits from a slight excursion outside the pure realm of microtones to John Cage's Daughters of the Lonesome Isle, a prepared-piano piece strongly influenced by Indonesian gamelan music. Strongly recommended, and lots of fun, for anyone with the slightest interest in thinking between the notes – or outside the box."
- by James Manheim, allmusic

POULENC: Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos (1932); NIKOLAI BEREZOWSKY: Fantasie for Two Pianos (1931); PAUL CRESTON: Concerto for Two Pianos (1951) - Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas/Nat. Sym. of Polish Radio-TV/ David Amos - Kleos Classics KL 5121

"A fortunate combination here: a standard for two pianos coupled with two other works receiving their world premiere recordings. The extensive liner notes point out that though two-keyboard concertos were popular in the Baroque period they sort of died out in the Romantic period to be replaced by virtuoso single-piano concertos which used all the resources of both the piano and the orchestra to make a grand impression. in the 20th century two-piano began to come back, and this disc brings us three fine examples.

Poulenc's witty work is full of many different influences: Mozart, the concerto grosso, jazz, silent film music, French music hall music, and even Balinese gamelan. Berezowsky is perhaps best known as Aaron Copland's teacher. He had come from the early Soviet Union - first to Vienna and then to New York to teach at Juilliard. His short Fantasie has a strong Russian flavor and partakes of the concerto grosso style. Paul Creston, who lived until 1985, was essentially self-taught and usually wrote in a Neoclassical style - sometimes fairly dissonant but always with a distinctive rhythmic structure. His Two-Piano Concerto is both tuneful and rhythmic, with a lengthy Andante center movement of some lyricism. The short finale is a traditional Tarantella, coming from the Italian background of the composer.

The playing of all concerned is excellent and the skilled sound and balance brings these delightful two-piano works to the listener in great style."
- John Sunier, Audiophile Audition

"The critically acclaimed duo-piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, together with the Polish Television and Radio Orchestra, perform Francis Poulenc's beautiful Concerto in D minor as well as two world premier recordings: a Fantasie by the Russian composer, Nikolai Berezowsky, and a Concerto for Two Pianos by Paul Creston. Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas have been playing as a piano duo since 1978 and many of their recordings and performances have featured world premieres, including works composed for them by Miklos Rozsa. Their performance on this album of Poulenc's delightful concerto is passionate, witty and exhilarating. Berezowsky's energetic Fantasie and the excellent Creston Concerto are also played with great brilliance and virtuosity, making this an invaluable addition to this prolific duo's recorded repertoire. 'Crisp, clean performances...consistant high spirits. It was delightful to encounter it in a performance of this stature'"
- The Chicago Sun-Times

"... I also love (Roy) Harris's Violin Concerto, but I knew nothing about his highly original Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra and have never heard of the Kleos Classics label that has just released it, along with two works in the same genre by Arthur Benjamin and Pierre Max Dubois. The latter two works are fun and entertaining, but the Harris work is a major piece filled with his signature sense of longing, openness, and a kind of prairie majesty. This rambunctious, exhilarating work was not performed until more than a half-century after its 1946 composition. Harris fans will be grateful to pianists Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas and the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, under Kirk Trevor, for opening this particular window on one of our great composers. "
- Robert R. Reilly, Crisis Magazine, February 3, 2005

"In speaking of the Pierce and Jonas Roy Harris Two Piano Concerto on Kleos KL5129, it is an excellent performance and recording, by the way."
- David Hall, (For the past 50 years, a world reknown commentator and writer on classical music, performing artists, musicians and the recording industry at large)

"The team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas has done outstanding work over the past three decades in expanding the repetoire for two pianos and orchestra. Back in the late 70's, they issued the first recording of Benjamin Britten's Scottish Ballad together with a smashing performance of Bohuslav Martinu's Two-Piano Concerto, and since then they have offered first recordings of major works by Creston, Starer, Lopatnikoff and Berezowski. This disk is notable for it's premiere recording of Concerto for Two Pianos(1946) by Roy Harris, and an "utterly irresistible" Concerto italien by Pierre Max DuBois and on to Arthur Benjamin's enchanting "pops-concert crowd-pleaser", North American Square Dances."

The Slovak Radio Symphony, which has now recorded such varied fare from all over the world, gives Pierce and Jonas top-notch idiomatic support under the talented Kirk Trevor. A genuine winner... and a treat for all ears."
- Paul A. Snook, Fanfare Magazine, Sept/Oct 2004

"The indefatigable keyboard team of Pierce and Jonas continues its investigation of unusual repertory for piano and orchestra with three rarities: Pierre Max Dubois's Concerto Italien (1962), Roy Harris's Concerto (1946) and Arthur Benjamin's North American Square Dance Suite (1950). All three works are technically challenging, although one hardly could tell from the brilliant performances. Musically the 23-minute Harris is the most impressive, with his usual cragginess offset by moments of extreme tenderness. The Dubois, hardly trivial and always enjoyable, is more convincing in its first two movements rather in the pat finale. Benjamin's dances are great fun, although the less rousing of the eight movements tend to repeat themselves. Pierce and Jonas, with their perfect sense of timing, are ably supported by Kirk Trevor and the Slovak Radio Symphony (Bratislava) on a fine recording."
- Turok's Choice, Issue No. 157, Summer 2004

"The critically acclaimed duo-piano team of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, together with the Polish Television and Radio Orchestra, perform Francis Poulenc's beautiful Concerto in D minor as well as two world premier recordings: a Fantasie by the Russian composer, Nikolai Berezowsky, and a Concerto for Two Pianos by Paul Creston. Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas have been playing as a piano duo since 1978 and many of their recordings and performances have featured world premieres, including works composed for them by Miklos Rozsa. Their performance on this album of Poulenc's delightful concerto is passionate, witty and exhilarating. Berezowsky's energetic Fantasie and the excellent Creston Concerto are also played with great brilliance and virtuosity, making this an invaluable addition to this prolific duo's recorded repertoire. 'Crisp, clean performances...consistent high spirits. It was delightful to encounter it in a performance of this stature.'"
- The Chicago Sun-Times, 2004

"Although the notes don't provide a recording date, I believe this is a reissue of a 1995 Albany disc. Three cheers for the programming and the performers in any event! The Poulenc Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is the only well-known piece and it receives a cleverly different performance, competitive with any. The opening zips along with sparkling, clear articulation in a style more typical for early Prokofiev than for a member of the less ferocious Les Six. Even the lyrical second movement sounds a little less Parisian and more romantically Russian than usual. I've always admired one of its simple, wistfully descending themes."

The Berezowsky Fantasy for Two Pianos and Orchestra in one movement is the shortest of the three pieces here and this is its first performance on disk. It's even more obviously related to Prokofiev and Rachmaninov. Berezowsky was born in Russia in 1900, trained in St Petersburg and immigrated to the United States while in his twenties. His once popular symphonies and concertos have disappeared from the repertoire. The Fantasy, though entertaining, perhaps suggests why. It reminds me of some of the pseudo-concertos written for films with plots about struggling classical musicians. The dual pianists work up some excitement, but the piece hasn't the memorable tunes of the Warsaw Concerto and others.

Creston's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra is the most recent work (1951). Though not quite in the class of the Poulenc, it's a fine composition. This is a first recording and that lends strong support to the idea that tonal works, especially by American composers, fell out of favor around the middle of the last century. Wonder what else we've missed out on? The piece is in three movements. The first comes closest to what I'll call the New-York-City-skyscraper sound, taking itself a bit too seriously. The slow second movement has some lovely melodies. The last movement is a suitably rousing finale.

The pianists (Pierce and Jonas) have all the technique these sometimes difficult pieces require and complement each other beautifully. Solid orchestral support completes the package. This is a most enjoyable disk.
- Ron Bierman, Music & Vision September 2003,

"The Poulenc Two Piano Concerto is a beautiful work, full of Gallic wit and charm, with instantly recognizable chunks of Bach and Mozart (i.e. the start of the first two movements respectively), and the tasteful vulgarity of a nose-thumbing maverick. ... It's given a racy performance on this disc ... The result is exhilarating and the virtuosity of the two soloists impressive...A highly commendable disc, the playing of the highest calibre."
- Christopher Fifield, UK Classical Music Web, June 2003,

"In prospect this made a fascinating collection...There is something unremittingly insistent about the results (MUSIC FOR TWO PIANOS & ORCHESTRA - KLEOS CLASSICS KL5121) produced by these composers when face with the challenge of writing a work for two pianos and orchestra...The Poulenc is the best known of the concertos. it wears its brightness well. The sound is brilliant...The Berezowsky Fantasie resembles Prokofiev in its shatter-bright energy...It certainly is not short in the brilliance department...The Creston is excellent...The material can stand happily in the company of the Second and Third symphonies...The disc is particularly valuable to explorers of the repetroire but compelling for the central movements of both the Poulenc and the Creston...Delightful work from everyone and especially for the swashbuckling and sensitive Pierce and Jonas."
- Rob Barnett, UK Classical Music Web May 2003,

"One Poulenc Double Concerto To Go. This recording, by Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas ("POULENC, BEREZOWSKY, CRESTON," KLEOS CLASSICS KL5121), has one of the best interpretations of the Poulenc Double Piano Concerto I have ever heard. It crackles with energy, has plenty of pathos and is just so totally French. It is a recording I listen to over and over with out ever getting tired."

"I must also give props to them for the Berezowski and Creston concertos as well. These recordings to me, puts you in the excitement of the concert hall. The Berezowski has a wonderful interplay between the two pianos and orchestra. The clarity of their playing - I can't distinguish where Mr. Pierce ends and Ms. Jonas begins in the piece, is like I am looking at the score itself as it is being played. The colossal surprise is the Creston It is unlike anything I have ever heard! It is a massive score and must be quite difficult to play, but their performance has a wonderful sense of ease and continuity. The last movement is a non-stop rollicking tour-de-force that lifts you out of your seat, and leaves you stunned!!"

"I have to say, that Joshua Pierce, Dorothy Jonas and David Amos are a great working combination. They are on the "same page from first note to last note." Its fortunate for the music business to have these wonderful artists around. Go out and get this album!!!"
-, on-line review, November 2, 2002

"Cheers for this Broadway Baby. I have long been a fan of duo piano teams, and I have to say that this team, Pierce and Jonas is just, WOW! especially the way they performed Slaughter on 10th Avenue and Candide (one of my favorite Bernstein musicals.) The other arrangements, well, I can hear vocals when I listen to them, especially when listening to the "La Cage" medley. ("BERNSTEIN/RODGER'S CLASSICS," PHOENIX USA PHCD152.)
-, on-line review, October 12, 2002

...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 brought this album ("MENDELSSOHN: CONCERTO NOS. 1 & 2 FOR TWO PIANOS AND ORCHESTRA," VOX CLASSICS 7538) because it promised duo pianos, so curiosity drove me and not expectation. I was completely and happily surprised. Th 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 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 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."
-, on-line review, January 3, 2001

"The superb duo piano team of Pierce & Jonas appear on several discs devoted to American Composers. Robert Starer's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra has flashes of brilliance in its writing for the solo instruments (MMC 2170). the piano duo's discs contain Walter Piston's Concerto for Two Pianos (HELICON HE1044). The sound is significantly clearer than that of the original and it is hard to imagine better playing."
- Turok's Choice, April 2000

"Performances of Pierce & Jonas are crystalline and easy going."
- Fanfare, April, 2000

"The pianists Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas make their performance of the Starer Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra the ultimate in crispness, producing performances that go far beyond documentation."
- Fanfare, April, 2000


"Next, Pierce and Jonas took the stage to perform the charming classical piece Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, K. 365. Pierce, who has immense technical command of the instrument along with highly articulate phrasing combined and complemented perfectly with the sensitive phrasing, accuracy and finessed interpretation of Jonas."

"Musical ideas were tossed back and forth with Mozartianease. a pure melodic and technical delight. the audience was clearly appreciative and remained visually enthralled throughout the entire piece, literally hanging on every note. Pierce & Jonas have in fact, set the standard for many pieces including many first time recordings."
- Westfield Leader and Times, April 6, 2000


"The Westfield Symphony Orchestra featured duo pianists Joshua Pierce & Dorothy Jonas in Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos & Orchestra, K. 365 at the Union Arts Center last Saturday night. Theirs was a solid musicianship rich with subtlety, and the orchestra fully supported it. Pierce & Jonas work marvelously in their framework, trading the musical material back and forth comfortably without leaving seams in the texture, yet shaping it with a hint of their own personalities in the process."
- Newark Star-Ledger, April 3, 2000

Robert Starer Two-Piano Concerto for M.M.C. (live recording):

"I find Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas brilliant technically and highly sensitive and expressive musically... truly poetic... they have drive and intensity."
- Robert Starer, Composer 1999

Lopatnikoff Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra, Tansman Suite for Two Pianos and Orchestra and Malipiero Dialogue VII (Concerto) for Two Pianos and Orchestra (World Premiere):

"Pierce and Jonas are fast becoming the premiere piano duo in today's recording world and they send these pieces off with their typical blithe bravado. Their interpretation of the Lopatnikoff, for example, is comparable to the Pittsburgh premiere given by the legendary Vronsky and Babin team... and they far outclass the dim and ragged performance of the Malipiero by Reding and Piette released on Olympia. Without a doubt, this is one of the most exciting and necessary releases of the year."
- Fanfare, July, 1996

"The performances are brisk, clean-lined and harmonically bright. The slow movements are elegantly decorative and thoughtful and the finales are joyful vivaces, especially in these lively performances by Pierce and Jonas--so full of high spirits and penetrating intelligence."
- American Record Guide, July, 1996

"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. The latest of their stunningly performed discs offers works by Lopatnikoff, Tansman and Malipiero. All are rewarding works, but the Malipiero stands out for its technical mastery. Driving performances"
- Turok's Choice, June, 1996

Walter Piston Two Piano Concerto (New York Premiere):

"... they displayed that sort of emotional and interpretive union that must be second nature to a two-piano team."
- Peter Goodman, Newsday, New York

Works for Two Pianos and Orchestra by Creston, Berezowsky and Poulenc:

"A zesty, brilliant performance of the Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra by Francis Poulenc. Tempos are brisk with enough brittle edge to underline the naughty humor of Paris between the two World Wars. It's Poulenc 'sec', free of chocolate coating. . . The Creston Two Piano Concerto is a real applause machine. . .one of Creston's finest works. The Berezowsly Fantasie is extremely effective and rewarding. The performances are notable for their vim and tonal sheen which is typical of the Pierce-Jonas Duo. (A number of their recordings for the Koch label have won major prizes.) . . . Lyrical expanses of expressive depth. Recommended!"
- In Tune Magazine

Works for Two Pianos and Orchestra by Creston, Berezowsky and Poulenc:

"The prolifically recorded two-piano team of Pierce and Jonas offer an absolutely bang-up first recorded performance of Paul Creston's 'Two Piano Concerto' (1950/1), with all the propulsive drive this music requires--two rollicking Allegros flanking a central Andante Pastorale marked by tender lyricism. Pierce has also done a good deal recording as a solo artist, including an indispensable disk devoted to the piano music of Nicolas Flagello."
- Fanfare

John Cage Experiences and Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos:

"A positively brilliant knock-out performance..."
- Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"For a truly dazzling experience, you should hear the leaner, cleaner, and altogether faster version of John Cage's 'Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos' by Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas on Wergo."
- Fanfare, Sept., 1997

Miklos Rozsa New England Concerto, written for Pierce and Jonas, with the Utah Symphony Orchestra:

"... polished and sensitive technicians."
- Paul Wetzel, Salt Lake City Tribune

On subsequent performances with the London Philharmonia at a Command Performance for the Royal Family: "academy award winning."
- Bill Zakasian, New York Daily News

and the Midland-Odessa Symphonies: "Dynamically performed with precision and technical excellence."
- Skye Osborn, Odessa American (Texas)

Francis Poulenc Two-Piano Concerto with Paul Freeman and the Chicago Sinfonietta:

"... Crisp, clean performances... Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas had it all down pat ... consistent high spirits. It was delightful to encounter it in a performance of this stature."
- Robert C. Marsh, The Chicago Sun-Times

Alan Hovhaness, Mordecai Sandberg, Ivan Wyschenegradsky, Bruce Mather, Stefan Konicek, Roland Moser and Charles Ives rarely heard two-piano works in quarter tones:

"... very satisfying and brilliant performances of some very difficult music... and imbued with spirit."
- Kyle Gann, Village Voice

"The Ives 'Three Quarter Tone Pieces,' played by Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas, sounded hauntingly beautiful ... exemplary throughout... striking."
- Bill Zakariasen, New York Daily News

Two Steinways on Broadway:

"I am certain that you thought that piano duets of Broadway show tunes went out years ago with Ferrante and Teicher, but there is an excellent new CD available titled Two Steinways on Broadway featuring the twin piano tour de force of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas. Mr. Pierce is no newcomer to recordings. The esteemed American virtuoso has received more than 25 Grammy nominations and is considered the foremost interpreter of modern classical composer John Cage. Mr. Pierce and Ms. Jonas make a very successful cross-over with this Broadway release. Sit back and listen to the great songs of Broadway played by pianists who are the very best. Opening with a dynamic rendering of Leonard Bernstein's exhilarating overture to Candide, the other highlights are the medleys from A Chorus Line and West Side Story to splendid renditions of Slaughter on l~h Avenue and The Sound of Music."
- Donald G. Collester, WDVR-FM, New York City

"The music of Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas is both moving and graceful and captures the majesty of Broadway musicals."
- Ralph Howard, WINS Radio, New York City

"A refreshing journey down the Great White Way by two extraordinarily gifted pianists."
- Ron Delia Chiesa, WGBH Radio, Boston, Summer, 1995

"Pierce and Jonas play with confidence, flair and style."
- Fanfare

... a heightened sense of poetry."
- Daniel Webster, Philadelphia Enquirer

"Two Steinways on Broadway is shear ear tonic. Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas prove that twenty talented fingers can bring out musical magic via Lenny Bernstein's 'Candide' and Rodger's 'Slaughter on 10th Avenue.' Hand claps for this duo with deft digits."
- Gary Stevens, Syndicated Columnist, National Newspaper Association, August, 1995

Various Other Reviews

"... exceptional ensemble and glitter."
- San Francisco Chronicle

"Excellent performances!... The pianists (Pierce and Jonas) are truly remarkable... The precision of the team is so extraordinary, you never sense there are two soloists playing... quite amazing."
- Robert Sherman, WQXR Radio, New York City

"Duo pianists Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas have fashioned an electrifying two piano version of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances."
- Allan Kozinn, New York Times

"Pierce is joined by his long-time partner, Dorothy Jonas, for Mozart's complete works for two pianos. The concerto (K. 365), recorded "live" in Bratislava, and the K. 448 Sonata, Adagio and Fugue (K. 546, 426) receive vital, precise readings, and special mention must be made of a reconstructed Larghefto and Allegro in E flat--a haunting work, hauntingly performed."
- Turok's Choice

"Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas are the duo pianists in the Gould, Piston and Copeland works with the Royal Philharmonic--a great performance! (Rated 10/10--Superior; qualities of unusual merit--Highest rating)
- CD Review

"Speaking of virtuosity, piano duo Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas are in driving command of a difficult program including Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and Russian Rhapsody, along with works by Saint-Saëns, Britten, Lutoslawski and others."
- Turok's Choice

"The Pierce-Jonas duo's performances are playful, crisp-rhythm delights!"
- Cincinnati Enquirer

"The Three Dances (Cage) for two pianos really electrify. Pianists Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas play this full of verve..."
- Tagesanzeiger, Zurich, Switzerland

"Three Dances ... one of the early keyboard works by John Cage for two pianos which demands incredible pianism ... is performed in a highly virtuosic manner by pianists Joshua Pierce and Dorothy Jonas."
- Augsburger Allgemeine, Germany

"Fantastic things can be heard in the Three Dances for Two Prepared Pianos ... Thrilling performances ... powerful ..."

- Klenkes, Aachen, Germany



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