Friday, July 4, 2014

Musical Saga of Pianist Stewart Goodyear Leads From LP Fragments in Childhood to 'Tchaikovsky Grieg Concertos' CD on Steinway & Sons Label

Tchaikovsky Grieg Concertos
Stewart Goodyear, Piano
Steinway & Sons 30035 (2014)

American Piano Classics
Stewart Goodyear, Piano

AfriClassical first wrote about pianist Stewart Goodyear September 25, 2007, when he was performing with the Delaware Symphony Orchestra.  The post reported the pianist had already substituted for André Watts with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2006.  We linked to an article in The Toledo Blade October 21, 2007: 
"A LIFE OF MUSIC: Stewart Goodyear, debuting with TSO, discovered piano at 3, By Sally Vallongo."  The article tells of his attraction to the piano at 3, of his toy piano at 4 and his parents' eventual purchase of a full-size instrument for their prodigy.  Goodyear told the interviewer he had first wanted to be a conductor. "But by age 14, he was making his first recording - the LeRoy Anderson Concerto and Gershwin' s Second Rhapsody with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and conductor Eric Kunzel."  It was the world premiere recording of the LeRoy Anderson Piano Concerto, pictured above, which we purchased in 1999 and which is still available online.  

A January 4, 2008 post announced that Stewart Goodyear was to celebrate Martin Luther King Day with the Louisville Orchestra.  On February 16, 2008 we posted news of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale's world premiere performance of Goodyear's composition The Crucifixion.  Since then stories of far-flung performancehave been accompanied by releases of a series of Beethoven recordings.

The liner notes for the Tchaikovsky Grieg Piano Concertos tell us:  "In the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Mr. Goodyear performed all 32 Beethoven Piano Sonatas in one day at Koerner Hall, McCarter Theatre, and Mondavi Center." "In June and July 2014 , he will perform the complete sonatas in four three-hour programs at Bargemusic in Brooklyn, NY."  The Winspear Opera House Recital Series in Dallas, Texas announces: "Stewart Goodyear / Beethoven Sonatathon, Performing the Complete Piano Sonatas of Beethoven, Saturday, March 21, 2015 Dallas City Performance Hall."

Goodyear writes in the CD liner notes: "Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto was introduced to me by way of a compilation album of classical music's greatest hits. I was already familiar with the composer's complete symphonies, and knew how to distinguish between the different major and minor keys.  The only segment of the Piano Concerto on this compilation album was the introductory theme.  It was not in the key of B-flat minor, but its relative D-flat major.  It drove me crazy.  I wondered whether there was a typo in the album cover!  To make matters worse, the track ended in F major, the dominant of B-flat minor.  I had to hear the entire concerto - because of this befuddling first impression."

A short time later, the pianist writes: "Tchaikovsky's First is not paying respect to any tradition but his own; it is steeped in the soil where Tchaikovsky was born. There are quotations of folk songs as well as operatic and balletic gestures.  The form is strict, but the feeling is rhapsodic.  Harmonies are on a world tour, but they always come back home."

With respect to the Edvard Grieg work, Goodyear recounts: "My introduction to Grieg's Piano Concerto in A minor was through the operetta Song of Norway, which features adaptations of Grieg's music."  He writes that "a condensed version of the concerto" was the final track on an album of Broadway musicals, and, "it only heightened my longing to hear the complete work." 

The pianist continues: "It was April of 2013 when I decided to take the plunge and record both concertos that have been a part of my music-loving life since thirty-two years ago.  My sudden urge to record them was so strong that I decided not to wait for the opportunity, but to create it.  Three months later, in the beautiful city of Prague, Maestro Stanislav Bogunia and the wondrous and versatile Czech National Symphony Orchestra joined me to record the Tchaikovsky First Concerto and the Grieg Concerto."

We have listened to the new recording numerous times.  As familiar as the two concertos are in the classical repertoire and in our own music collection, the musical skill and intensity of both the soloist and the orchestra have imparted freshness and vitality to the concertos.  For us, Stewart Goodyear's dynamic performance career holds the promise of additional rewarding recordings. Disclosure: A review copy of this recording was provided by the record label. 

Comment by email:
Thank you very much, Bill! Best wishes!  [Stewart Goodyear]                                

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