This new CD of piano works by Vincent Persichetti offers the only available recordings personally approved by the composer of his substantial Tenth and Eleventh Piano Sonatas. Performed by Persichetti specialist Ellen Burmeister, this long out-of-print reissue also presents the only current recording of the composer’s simple but charming Serenade No. 7.
Persichetti was an ardent fan of Burmeister. “You are such a wonderful pianist,” he wrote, adding, “Your interest in my music warms my heart.”
The new CD is produced by Thomas Steenland, who also produced the original 1985 album. Prior to that recording, Persichetti wrote:
“It is rare when a pianist decides to play all a composer’s piano literature. Ellen Burmeister is doing that for me. I am pleased not only for her talents but also by her sound musicianship and dedication.”
Upon hearing the final tape before the LP was released, Persichetti sent an enthusiastic note of approval to Steenland, noting that Burmeister “has done a fine job.”
The CD’s booklet reissues the full LP notes on the music from both Persichetti and Burmeister.
Persichetti is regarded as one of the major figures in American music of the 20th century. He was an accomplished pianist, and his piano music forms a substantial part of his creative output, with a concerto, a concertino, twelve sonatas, and a variety of other pieces written for the instrument. In addition, his wife, Dorothea, was an accomplished pianist, and Persichetti composed The Eleventh Piano Sonata for her.
A member of the piano faculty at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Burmeister specialized in the music of Vincent Persichetti, Roger Sessions, and Alan Hovhaness. She performed and/or gave presentations on much of Persichetti’s piano music.
Persichetti received three Guggenheim Fellowships, the first Kennedy Center Friedheim Award, Brandeis University Creative Arts Award, Juilliard Publication Award, and the Symphony League Award. Among some 100 commissions were those from the Philadelphia Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the St. Louis and Louisville Symphony Orchestras, the Koussevitsky Music Foundation, Martha Graham Company, Juilliard Musical Foundation, and the American Guild of Organists.
For this reissue, the original 25-year old analog tapes were transferred by engineer David Glasser, at the Restoration Center at Airshow Mastering, to a high-resolution (176.4 kHz, 24 bit) digital format. Tom Steenland then polished these hi-res versions to create the new master.
[Persichetti photo by Michael Ahearn]