interview

Boulder Philharmonic Opening Weekend + latest press by Elizabeth Roe

The 2016-2017 concert season is off to an eventful start, from season-opening orchestral performances (in Chicago and Boulder) to venue-opening recitals (at the Mondavi Center and the University of Iowa). Elizabeth just appeared as concerto soloist in Rachmaninoff's beloved Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini plus the Poulenc Double Concerto (alongside piano duo partner Greg Anderson) with the Boulder Philharmonic and conductor Michael Butterman for the orchestra's opening weekend (see review and preview articles below). This month is chock-full of concerts across the country, from Santa Barbara to Washington, DC; check the calendar for the latest details.

Anderson & Roe with Maestro Michael Butterman after performing two concerti with the Boulder Philharmonic

Anderson & Roe with Maestro Michael Butterman after performing two concerti with the Boulder Philharmonic

September: Sinfonietta, Stereophile, SFCV by Elizabeth Roe

The Anderson & Roe Piano Duo opened the Chicago Sinfonietta's concert season with "Unhinged": a jam-packed piano-centric extravaganza, featuring the Poulenc Double Concerto, Stravinsky's complete Petrushka, Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," and a brand new arrangement of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" for two pianos and orchestra. Check out a preview of the concert on WGN TV as well as the Chicago Tribune review here.

An in-depth profile of Elizabeth is featured in the San Francisco Classical Voice:

"...Onstage I do feel a heightened version of myself, one that is brave and passionate, and that’s really just open. In an odd way, I feel that music leads me to accept and to honor the person I really am."

Read the complete interview with Mark MacNamara here: Elizabeth Roe: The Executor of Risk

In album news, Elizabeth's John Field: Complete Nocturnes received a glowing review in Stereophile; it was granted 5 STARS for both the performance and sonics.

This CD barely needs a review. What Franz Liszt said of the 18 Nocturnes of John Field (1782-1837) will do: “No one has revived...these half-sighs of the breezes, plaintive wailings, ecstatic moanings.” But I have an addendum: These Nocturnes adhere to no specific form, but are, rather, short, exquisitely melodic meditations on, mostly, sadness. They’re not lugubrious—Field was too interested in beauty for that—but neither are they as florid, filled with angst, or harmonically complex as Chopin’s. This is not a criticism—as you’ll realize when you hear this disc, which I recommend you do.

If Field’s Nocturnes have a format, one might say that in most, particularly the early ones, the left hand plays ostinato (a repeated phrase/rhythm) while the right hand tends to the melodic content—sometimes straightforward, more often fascinatingly chromatic. The overall mellowness doesn’t result in boredom: No. 3’s rocking ostinato often includes unexpected dissonances; No. 4 rambles harmonically, and has a quite intense, unexpected period about halfway through. It also requires some amazingly acrobatic right-hand fingerwork. No. 5’s melody sounds oddly like a Schubert song. No. 16 is on a large scale—at 9 1/2 minutes, it’s twice as long and complicated as most. No. 17 could be by Mozart.

Crammed onto this single CD (look at the total timing!) is every Nocturne Field wrote. Perhaps one can take only so much beauty. But play a few at a time and wonder at Roe’s divine lyricism and phrasing. These works deserve to be better known.
— Robert Levine, Stereophile (September 2016)

Summer press roundup by Elizabeth Roe

Elizabeth's latest album of the complete Field Nocturnes is continuing to receive accolades:

Classical Ear:

5 STARS ... Elizabeth Joy Roe is revealed as an intelligently expressive, deeply nuanced advocate. In one nimbly graceful performance after another she lifts Field’s music out of the long, twilit shadows of Chopin’s later assumption of the nocturne to make substantial and persuasive claims for their own manners and merits. There’s much to enjoy in playing of liquescently sensitive technical precision that exquisitely encapsulates Roe’s description of the nocturnes in her excellent booklet note as “half-waking dreams in a night without gloom”. The overall effect is intimate, intense and involving in equal measure, the recording beautifully framed in Suffolk’s Potton Hall. In a word: sublime.

The Washington Post:

The American pianist Elizabeth Joy Roe (of the popular piano duo Anderson and Roe) has been fascinated by Field’s nocturnes since her student years at Juilliard. Now she’s compiled a generous 86 minutes of them on a new album. There was more than just recording the beautiful music. Roe conducted considerable research on Field, hunting for definitive sources, which survive in various editions (one revised by Liszt in 1859) and numbering sequences.

Field, who was born in Dublin in 1782 but spent most of his career in Russia, forged a new style. His slow-paced, lyrical nocturnes are ripe with emotive gestures and flights of fancy. Imbued with lilting melodies, the pieces often sound like wordless songs or operatic arias. Although as Roe points out in the booklet notes, their musical DNA relates to slow movements in Mozart or Beethoven, the sound is uniquely Field’s. His oversized personality — fueled by wit and alcohol — reportedly matched his enormous success.

In nocturnes such as Nos. 1, 5 and 6, Roe skillfully displays Field’s recipe of a singable, ornamented melody in the right hand accompanied by rippling arpeggios or widely spaced chords in the left. No. 4 might be the most beautiful, its bittersweet tune unfolding in Roe’s pearly runs with crepuscular harmonies. A few nocturnes break the mold. No. 13 mesmerizes with the melody in block chords in the left hand, while the right ladles on a repeated theme above. No. 16 plays like a scene from a Donizetti opera, its sweeping lyricism punctuated by dramatic asides, while No. 12 lopes along with a jaunty tune.

Field’s nocturnes have similar moods, but careful listening reveals that Roe makes each an individual portrait.

Review in NZZ am Sonntag (Zürich)

Review in NZZ am Sonntag (Zürich)

Live performance with Decoda (recorded in Seattle):

Finally, an in-depth interview in the first episode of the new Through the Stage Door Podcast: