Pianist Joshua Pierce has assembled a quintet of virtuoso concert works by a diverse set of Romantic composers, a series of inflated, grandiose gestures not particularly anchored by profound ideas, but certainly demonstrative of digital prowess. He begins with Carl Reinecke’s stormy Konzerstueck in G Minor, which at several turns reminds me of Schumann’s Introduction and Allegro, Op. 134. The coda alone expounds on about three Chopin etudes. The 1814 Introduction and Rondo by Hummel typifies his lyrical and bravura style, one that makes a potent bridge from the Mozartian galant idiom to that of Chopin. In terms of instrumental colors and harmonic modulation, it displays an inventive, captivating charm. The rondo-sonata has all kinds of flute and horn flourishes, col legno strings, and quicksilver piano runs that move from A to C and then E Major. The Chopin Krakowiak seems a close cousin. Glittery, elegant, bold, the piece has makes a cumulative effect of richly ornamental power. Carl Czerny, the noted creator of innumerable piano etudes, has in his Op. 255 a kind of bel canto vehicle for piano and orchestra, rife with 32nd and 64th notes, a long orchestral tutti, and countless, frequent modulations of key. We hear vague echoes of Chopin’s E Minor Concerto, surrounded by Czerny’s idiosyncratic bravura. Rezucha and Pierce adopt a rather brisk tempo for Weber’s ever-fascinating Konzertstueck in F Minor (1821) – the prototype for Liszt’s A Major Concerto.
Another bel canto excursion for piano that modulates to A-flat, the piece allows Pierce to indulge in every kind of rhetorical curlicue and arpeggiated syncope. The music, long a favorite of Casadesus and Arrau, finds in Pierce a passionate advocate of its several labyrinthine episodes, including a pungent march in C Major. His huge glissando is worth the price of admission. Frisky excursions into F Major, C Major, and D-flat lead to a festively jubilant conclusion, kitchen-sink music of the first order. The 1834 Rondo by Mendelssohn first had its slick beauties revealed to me via Peter Katin. Fashioned out of a guiding 6/8 motif, the piece proceeds as a series of flurries and meditations, the latter in G Minor. Exuberant and self-assured, the Rondo emanates a jaunty air as it cascades to a fiery conclusion that has Pierce exhibiting powerful 16th-note triplets and octaves in regal fashion.
— Gary Lemco