My original arrival at the fortepiano was rather typical for a harpsichordist, bleeding into classical style and repertoire from what we refer to as “transitional” music, with its gallant and Rococo qualities so suited for the gestural ease of the fortepiano. The domain of CPE Bach, Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven is where I resided during my masters study with Penny Crawford at the University of Michigan, where I was the recipient of the Amy Young Evers Award for fortepiano performance.
However, I had a second arrival from a different direction, this one having more fully sealed my relationship to the instrument, and that is from investigating the domestic musical worlds of the Antebellum US and Georgian England. From this angle, I pursued my doctoral dissertation Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs, was granted a Research Fellowship from the American Association of University Women, started my tenure as a Resident scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center (link), received an Alicia Monti Fellowship from the Boston Public Library, recorded the CD Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs: Slipping Piano Virtuosity into the Antebellum Drawing Room (Centaur Records 2015), and recorded works by Fanny Mendelssohn and Héléne Montgeroult with mezzo soprano Pamela Dellal. I spent 2014 in the UK on a Fulbright, focusing on the early household life of the piano, its music, and its players.
As a result of connections formed during my Fulbright, I was invited back to England several times as an associated scholar with the UK-based research and interpretation project Sound Heritage. As recipient of a Women’s Travel Club grant, I was able to carry on further my exploration of historical pianos in England at the Chawton House Library, the Finchocks Collection, and at the Benton Fletcher Collection of Fenton House in London, and I have been sleuthing/performing/recording long-ignored piano variations by two very interesting composers I discovered during my time in England, Martha Greatores (1759-1829) and Maria Noke White (1768-1826).
During my time in Cleveland, I concertized extensively on fortepiano, including performing with renowned soprano Julianne Baird on her Jane Austen Song Book recitals, an excerpt of which can be heard here and here. In addition, I gave the dedicative recital for the Cleveland Museum of Art’s restored Broadwood fortepiano, with soprano Judith Overcash:
Beethoven, “The Morning Air” ,
Felix Mendelssohn, Fantasy on “Last Rose of Summer”
G.F. Pinto, “Eloise to Abelard”
Beethoven, Bagatelle in F major, Op. 156
In March of 2017, with the support of a grant from the Women’s Travel Club (founded by wives of Harvard professors in the 19th century), I was able to return to the UK to record pieces by my two Georgian pianist composer discoveries, Martha Greatorex and Maria Noke White, on a beautiful 1820 Broadwood grand that belongs to the Finchcocks Collection of Richard and Katrina Burnett.
Sound Heritage is a network and research/interpretation project focused on bringing to life the musical worlds of English, American, Irish, Scottish, and Australian homes in the Georgian era. For the second meeting, in March of 2016 at Chawton House Library, I programmed and performed on a recital of music from various country homes, broadly representing the work of the associated members.
RECENT RECORDINGS & PROJECTS
Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs: Slipping Piano Virtuosity into the Antebellum Drawing Room (Centaur, 2015)
Oft In the Stilly Night by A Lady (1826)
Impromtu (sic) Brillant (sic) on Last Rose of Summer
Introduction and Variations on O No, We Never Mention Her
Brilliant Variations on Sentimental Songs (You Tube)
Reviving Song: Spirited Works By Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, Héléne Montgeroult, And Louis Spohr
Héléne Montgeroult, Sonata in F minor, Movement I
(Recorded on Brandeis University’s 1835 Joseph Worel Viennese fortepiano)
Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, “Suleika,” with mezzo soprano Pamela Dellal
Louis Spohr, “Zwiegesang” from Twelve German Songs, with period clarinetist Diane Heffner and mezzo soprano Pamela Dellal
Adastra, A Period Instruments Duo,
with violinist Jennifer Roig-Francoli, has often performed works from the classical period. Beethoven Violin Sonata No.
Allegro con brio
Martha Greatorex, Pray Goody (1826), Prelude and theme:
Maria Noke White, Savournah Deelish, Variation 1 & 2
Martha Greatorex: Cease Your Funning, Prelude & Theme
Maria Noke White, We’re A-Noddin (1823), Variation 5
Jane’s History: A Concert of Pincushion Wit
A UK concert tour in March of 2017, with vocalists Catherine Bott, Emily Gray, Carol Mastrodomenico, Megan Dirr, Ketti Munschler, and Suzannah Thornton, performing at Chawton & Godmersham (two key sites in the life of Jane Austen), as well as Trinity Laban Conservatoire and the Universiy of Southampton.
John Howell Morrison’s Jane's History of England (video)
Music from the Lady Emma Hamilton Song Book
Soprano Catherin Bott & fortepianist Vivian Montgomery
A Most Beloved Melody: British and American Piano Renderings of Favourite Songs, 1790-1850
(A solo fortepiano recital given at Chawton House Library, Hampshire, UK, in May of 2014, a culminating event of my time in the UK as a Senior Fulbright Scholar)
The Angel’s Whisper
(From the Elizabeth Dowling Song Book, from mid-19th century Australia, performed by soprano Katherine Hawnt and myself)