Saint-Seans, Etude, op, 52, No.3
GEOFFREY BURLESON, PIANIST, has performed to wide acclaim throughout Europe and North America, and is equally active as a recitalist, concerto soloist, chamber musician and jazz performer. The New York Times has hailed his solo performances as “vibrant” and “compelling”, and has praised his “command, projection of rhapsodic qualities without loss of rhythmic vigor, and appropriate sense of spontaneity and fetching colors”. And the Boston Globe refers to Mr. Burleson as a “remarkable pianist” and “a first-class instrumental presence” whose performances are “outright thrilling.” His numerous acclaimed solo appearances include prominent venues in Paris (at the Église St-Merri), New York, Rome (American Academy), Helsinki (Sibelius Academy), Athens (Mitropoulos Hall), Mexico City (National Museum of Art), Rotterdam (De Doelen), Chicago (Dame Myra Hess Memorial Series), Boston, Washington, Switzerland, England, Spain, and elsewhere. He has also appeared as soloist in many international festivals, including the Mostly Modern Festival, Bard Music Festival, Monadnock Music Festival, Mänttä Music Festival (Finland), Santander Festival (Spain), the Talloires International Festival (France), the International Keyboard Institute & Festival (New York), and the Interharmony International Music Festival (Italy).
Mr. Burleson has appeared as concerto soloist with numerous orchestras and ensembles, including the Buffalo Philharmonic, New England Philharmonic, Boston Musica Viva, Pioneer Valley Symphony, Arlington Philharmonic, and the Holland Symfonia in the Netherlands, performing repertoire ranging from Mozart, Weber and Saint-Saens to Gershwin, Yehudi Wyner, David Rakowski, and Klaas de Vries.
Mr. Burleson currently performs as a principal pianist with the American Modern Ensemble, Boston Musica Viva and the Tribeca New Music Festival, as well as IMPetus, a dynamic trio featuring vocalist Maria Tegzes, and guitarist Dave "Knife" Fabris. He is also a member of Princeton University's Richardson Chamber Players. Formerly, Mr. Burleson performed in Greece and the United States as principal pianist with ALEA III, the contemporary ensemble-in-residence at Boston University, for five seasons. Recent touring projects include “Akoka: Messiaen Remix”, a CD and program featuring Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time, and including new works commenting on it by David Krakauer and DJ Socalled, with David Krakauer, clarinet; Matt Haimovitz, cello; and Todd Reynolds, violin. Via the “Akoka” CD, Mr. Burleson was nominated for a 2015 Juno Award for Classical Album Of The Year.
Mr. Burleson has also appeared in duo performances with many prominent musicians, including Boston Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Malcolm Lowe, former BSO principal flute Jacques Zoon, violinist Bayla Keyes, Mary Rowell, and Rolf Schulte; and cellists Matt Haimovitz and Rhonda Rider. He has collaborated with numerous world-renowned composers, and has given solo and duo premieres of works by Gunther Schuller, Vivian Fine, William Kraft, David Rakowski, Lior Navok, Hayes Biggs, Barbara White, Jeffrey Stadelman, Jason Eckardt, Evan Johnson, and others. As a jazz pianist, Mr. Burleson has performed extensively at home and abroad, both as soloist and in many ensembles. The Boston Globe has lauded his jazz performances, praising his "solos filled with complex harmonic and rhythmic figures", as well as his "compact and dramatic" arrangements of works by such diverse artists as Eric Dolphy and Patti Smith. Mr. Burleson's work in jazz has also taken him as far as Baku, Azerbaijan, where he performed as both soloist, and with vocalist CoCo York, under the auspices of American Voices.
Currently, Mr. Burleson is recording the complete piano works of Camille Saint-Saens, being released on 5 CD volumes on the new Naxos Grand Piano label. Saint-Saens: Complete Piano Works 1: Complete Piano Etudes, the inaugural release on the new label, Saint-Saens: Complete Piano Works 2, Character Pieces (Vol. 3), and Dances & Souvenirs (Vol. 4) have all been released thus far, and have met with high international acclaim from Gramophone, International Record Review, Diapason (France), and elsewhere, and has garnered International Piano Choice Awards from International Piano Magazine. Other notable releases include Roy Harris-Complete Piano Music (Naxos), and Vincent Persichetti: Complete Piano Sonatas (New World Records), a 2-CD set on which all twelve of Persichetti's piano sonatas are united on one release for the first time. The Persichetti recording was accorded high acclaim from the BBC Music Magazine ("BBC Music Choice"; 5/5 stars), a laudatory feature review in Gramophone, and was listed among the best recordings released in 2008 by Fanfare and the American Record Guide. Another recent release is Odd Couple (Oxingale Records), a duo CD of American works with cellist Matt Haimovitz, featuring the Barber and Carter Sonatas, as well as newer works by David Sanford and Augusta Read Thomas.
Mr. Burleson was winner of the Silver Medal in the International Piano Recording Competition, and won Special Commendations in the Vienna Modern Masters International Performers Competition. He was also the recipient of a DAAD grant from the German government to support a residency at the Academy of Arts in Berlin. A graduate of the Peabody Conservatory, New England Conservatory, and Stony Brook University (D.M.A.), his principal teachers include Gilbert Kalish, Leonard Shure, Veronica Jochum, Lillian Freundlich, Tinka Knopf, and Audrey Bart Brown.
Mr. Burleson teaches piano at Princeton University, and is Professor of Music and Director of Piano Studies at Hunter College of The City University of New York. He is also on the piano faculties of The Graduate Center of the City University of New York, the International Keyboard Institute & Festival (New York), and the Interharmony International Music Festival (Italy).
"Mr. Burleson played with command, projecting a rhapsodic quality without loss of rhythmic vigor...and an appropriate sense of fetching color. Burleson played vibrantly... ending his program with a compelling account of Boulez's formidably complex Piano Sonata No. 3."
-Anthony Tommasini -The New York Times
"Burleson gave an irresistibly supple reading of Liszt's Jeux d'eaux a la villa d'este, and in his performance of Debussy's Pour le piano, the Sarabande was delightfully hazy, and the Toccata was an explosion of energy. He followed this with Saint-Saens's expansive Caprice on Ballet Airs From Gluck's 'Alceste' before closing the concert with three of his own virtuosic, lively, occasionally jazzy improvisations on a handful of Debussy themes. Allan Kozinn -The New York Times
"Both works (Charles Ives's 'Three-Page Sonata' and Vincent Persichetti's Sonata No. 12) are couched in complex rhythms, with attractively simple melodies sometimes swimming through them. And Mr. Burleson played them with the energy and passion of a jazz player at the densest moment of a solo. He brought a similar power, as well as an improvisatory imagination, to Frank Zappa's 'Bebop Tango.' Allan Kozinn, -The New York Times
"Burleson is a remarkable pianist, with tireless attack, unflagging rhythm and energy to burn."
Richard Dyer, -The Boston Globe
"A top-notch pianist...Burleson's piquancy and poetry blended beautifully."
-The Washington Post
"Outright thrilling...a first-class instrumental presence ...pianist Geoffrey Burleson played winningly, with restraint, subtlety and precision.
- The Boston Globe
"Burleson brings a commanding technique and cultured musicality to these works. He takes care to point up Saint-Saens's formal mastery and in this sense the two pieces transcribed from concert works are particularly impressive. He is also adept at polyphonic textures, and the fugues, some of which are far from easy, are poised and often charming. One of the challenges of Saint-Saens's piano music, it seems to me, is its sheer stylistic diversity. Perhaps it is Burleson's wide-ranging experience with different kinds of music, his experience with jazz, a good deal of contemporary music, not to mention great chunks of the standard repertoire, which makes him such a persuasive advocate for Saint-Saens." -Patrick Rucker, International Record Review
"Saint-Saens composed three sets of Etudes: Op. 52 in 1877, Op. 111 in 1899, and Op. 135 in 1912. This is how Burleson has chosen to auspiciously begin his projected five volumes of his complete piano music. As the inaugural release on the new Grand Piano label, it bodes well for what should become a great label for piano music. Only a brilliant piano technician can perform these 18 knuckle-busters, and Burleson is such a pianist; his ability and stamina to get through these and make music out of them is nothing short of amazing. The first two sets of Etudes are as difficult as Chopin's and Liszt's. Often dealing with a single technical problem, they are inventive and effective. The last set is for the left hand alone and in a different musical world. Burleson has just the right panache to bring these off. Recorded sound and booklet notes (by Burleson) are absolutely first class.:
-American Record Guide
"Burleson plays with enormous flair and style...superb."
"Mr. Burleson is particularly well-known for especially complex and virtuosic jazz improvisations. One could definitely hear this in the 'jazz prelude' with which he warmed up the concert. Characterized as well by a winning ease, he improvised on individual songs of Gershwin, displaying an unprecedented range and speed. The audience was drawn in. Afterward, he played Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the orchestra, where it became clear that he is also a real concert pianist. The polish he displayed in this piece was very refined, and the rhythmic elements projected with a great deal of subtlety... The pianist concluded his performance with a 'jazz encore' that may have been even more breathtaking than his first set. -American Record Guide
Geoffrey Burleson possesses every advantage to evoke what the word blue' tells us, in the famous Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. After the vivid clarinet solo that literally sets the tone, the pianist created the sensation that all of his notes were actually part of an improvisation. It is a rare experience that one hears such a gift to the composer Gershwin, without even mentioning the intensity and the naturalness with which Burleson plays... Encore Burleson!
- Gelders Dagblad, Haarlems Dagblad (The Netherlands)
"BBC Music Choice (5/5 stars): Persichetti's 12 Sonatas for piano come as something of a revelation. A single musical personality runs through them all, revealed in consistently engaging invention, a strong feeling for attractive keyboard colours, whether in lithe counterpoint, limpid chords or sonorous climaxes, and a sense of form and proportion which ensures that nothing outstays its welcome. Geoffrey Burleson's outstanding performances have clearly been a labour of love, and they're recorded with exceptional fidelity. An impressive achievement all round."
- Anthony Burton, BBC Music Magazine
"Although Vincent Persichetti's 12 piano sonatas embrace a marked stylistic evolution over four decades, each is skilfully crafted, concise, assured and effectively though never garishly wrought for the keyboard, reflecting the composer's considerable pianism. Even the barest polyphonic writing is deployed with such registral care that it never sounds thin or dry. Conversely, climactic chordal passages make a clear, sonorous and clutter-free impact. Certainly Geoffrey Burleson not only observes to a proverbial tee but also relishes the composer's meticulous expressive and dynamic contrasts, elaborate pedal indication and precisely worked-out metric modulations. In fact each sonata comes alive by virtue of Burleson's intelligent virtuosity and caring musicianship, qualities that also manifest in his annotations. It's good finally to have all the sonatas brought together in a world-class, excellently engineered reference edition that constitutes a major addition to the catalog."
- Jed Distler, Gramophone
"A well-done, resounding performance. Pianist Geoffrey Burleson showed off all the possibilities of the Steinway Concert Grand.
- Berner Zeitung (Switzerland)
The presence of Burleson in Puebla signifies a rapproachment with the current innovations of contemporary music...without a doubt, this magnificent pianist captivated the audience.
- Al de Puebla (Mexico)
"Burleson played excellently. His sound was substantive even in the softest passages, and in loud sections he played with a strong tone that was free of ugly pounding...the program benefited mightily from this pianist's keen ear for timbral subtlety. A perfect ear for both minutiae and larger concerns... bravos go to Burleson for his four-star musical cookery."
- The New Music Connoisseur
20th/21st Century Solo Works
Isaac Albeniz: Iberia, Book 1
George Antheil: Sonata No. 2, “The Airplane” (1922)
Louis Andriessen: Trepidus (1983)
Milton Babbitt: Partitions (1957)
Bèla Bartók: Out of Doors, and Sonata
Paul Ben-Haim: Nocturne, Op. 20B, and Toccata, Op. 34
Alban Berg: Sonata, Op. 1
Arthur Berger: complete works for solo piano
William Bolcom: 12 New Etudes 91977-1986)
Pierre Boulez: Sonata No. 3 (1957-)
Earle Brown: 4 Systems (1954)
Elliott Carter: 90+ (1994), Two Diversions (1999), Retrouvailles (2000), Two Thoughts about the Piano (2005-06)
Aaron Copland: Passacaglia (1922) and Variations (1930)
George Crumb: Makrokosmos, Volume 1
Mario Davidovsky: Sychronisms No. 6 for piano and electric sounds (1971)
Claude Debussy: Pour le Piano (1901), Éstampes (1903), L’isle joyeuse (1904), Preludes, Books I and II (complete)
William Duckworth: Time Curve Preludes (1977-78)
Henri Dutilleux: Piano Sonata (1947-48)
Hanns Eisler: Sonata No. 2 (1924)
Morton Feldman: Piano (1977), Triadic Memories (1981), Palais de Mari (1986)
Roy Harris: Piano Sonata, Op. 1 (1928), Suite for PIano (1944), Toccata (1949). Complete piano works of Roy Harris recorded on Naxos.
Paul Hindemith: Suite “1922”
Karel Husa: Sonata No. 2 (1975)
Charles Ives: Three-Page Sonata, Sonata No. 1, Sonata No. 2 “Concord, Mass. 1840-1860”
Betsy Jolas: Pièce pour Saint-Germain (1980)
Leon Kirchner: Piano Sonata No. 1 (1948)
Mary Kouyoumdjian: Aghvani (2009)
Tania León: Ritual (1987)
G. Ligeti: Études, Book 1 (complete)
Eric Moe: Grande Étude Brilliante (1991)
Conlon Nancarrow: Tango? (1983)
Luigi Nono: “…..sofferte onde serene…”, for piano and electronic sound (1976)
Vincent Persichetti: Piano Sonatas 1-12 (recorded for New World Records)
Sergei Prokofiev: Toccata, Op. 11, and Piano Sonatas Nos. 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8
S. Rachmaninoff: Études-tableaux, Op. 39, Nos. 1-5
David Rakowski: numerous études and preludes
Einujahani Rautavaara: Complete Piano Études
Maurice Ravel: Miroirs (1905) and Gaspard de la Nuit (1908)
Frederic Rzewski: The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (1975)
Laurie San Martin: Dances for Solo Piano (2004-2007)
Arnold Schoenberg: 6 Klavierstücke, Op. 19, and Suite, Op. 25
K. Stockhausen: Klavierstück IX, X, and XI
T. Takemitsu: Piano Distance (1961)
George Walker: Sonata No. 2 (1966)
Gregory TS Walker: the mountain’s third face (1998)
Anton Webern: Variations, Op. 27
Barbara White: Reliquary (2001; premiere)
Yehudi Wyner: Refrain
Iannis Xenakis: Mists (1981)
Frank Zappa/arr. Burleson: Bebop Tango
Camille Saint-Saëns: Complete Solo Piano Music, including unpublished works receiving premieres (recorded on Naxos Grand Piano in 6 volumes)
Pozzi Escot: Piano Concerto (1982)
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue and Concerto in F
Aram Khachaturian: Piano Concerto in D-Flat
Sergei Prokofiev: Concerti Nos 1, 2 and 3
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Concerti Nos 2 and 3
David Rakowski: Piano Concerto No. 3 (2021; will give the premiere performance of this work); Mikronomicon, concerto for piano/melodicas and chamber ensemble (2010)
Maurice Ravel: Concerto in G Major; Concerto for the Left Hand
Yehudi Wyner: Chiavi in Mano (2004)
Klaas de Vries: Piano Concerto (2009; premiere with Boston Musica Viva)
Mr. Burleson's newest recording will offer a reading of the first Sonata by Charles Ives, "Mists" by Xenakis and the etudes from 1969 by Einyhani Rauttavaara. The final CD in the Series of The Complete Piano Music of Camille Saint-Saëns will be done this season.
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