This season American pianist Steven Spooner professor of piano …. at releases a 16-CD box set titled “Dedications,” in which he honors with his own performances an extensive selection of pieces that have become associated with such celebrated piano virtuosi of the past as Vladimir Horowitz, Claudio Arrau, Sviatoslav Richter, Emil Gilels, Van Cliburn -- all of whom were touched by the school founded by Anton Rubinstein, a Russian master whose fame in the late l9th century would extend even to the far American West. Mr. Spooner’s recordings in this fascinating set display the breadth of these iconic artists’ repertoire and include a recording on one of Liszt’s last pianos, a warm-toned 1885 Beehstein with comparison performances on modern instruments.
An Cliburn Vnd asscated the great Russian pianists of the past whose style of playing has all but disappeared from the concert halls f the world. ut from the Russian School who represented a Golden Age of unique piano artistry that has disappeared from our concert stages and recording studios. Such artists as Sergei Rachmaninoff, Josef Lhevinne, Simon Barere, Benno Moiseiwitsch and many others whose names still conjure an era of golden performances and golden memories. Early on, the American piano virtuoso Steven Spooner decided to dedicate his life and his piano playing to the memory and recreation of the “sound and passion” of the Russian school of piano performance, which in turn was once dominated by the earlier example of Franz Liszt’s seemingly miraculous pianism of an earlier era. On a quest Spooner studied at the conservatories of the Russian musical universe until his powerful fingers could bring to life the sounds and sweep in our own time of that wonderful but fading world of represented by Liszt at the keyboard -- even to the point of recording Liszt’s magisterial Sonata in B Minor on the composer’s own Bechstein grand piano.
Today Steven Spooner’s recreation of the masterworks favored by the Russian school of piano performance has already generated a following among lovers of the Romantic tradition who have praised Spooner’s performances in such venues as far afield as the Salle Cortot in Paris, Budapest’s Great Hall, Shanghai’s Concert hall for China’s Spring Festival and the Esplanade in Singapore. In Singapore’s Straits Times critic Chang Tou Liang, reviewed Spooner’s most recent Singapore recital as follows: “Like the pianists of the fabled golden age, Spooner was prey to composition and transcription himself. Three of his virtuoso etudes brought down the house” In addition Fanfare magazine added to this praise by asserting that Spooner is “a pianist in the tradition that many believe died with the likes of Horowitz, Arrau, Bolet, Cziffra and Wild.
Mr. Spooner has for several seasons now used serendipity in his piano recitals by allowing audiences to vote on the spot for one of several programs he has prepared. Spooner has been a prizewinner at each of the seven international piano competitions he has entered, including the Ivory Classical Foundation Prize, and top prizewinner at both the Hilton Head International Piano Competition and the Artlivre International Piano Competition, Mr. Spooner also captured First Prize and was recipient of the Niekamp Career Grant as most outstanding pianist in French music at the Paris Conservatory.
In the words of the Washington Post, “Anything added to Steven Spooner’s dazzling, blurry-handed sweeps of the entire piano would have been dizzying.” But it is always Mr. Spooner’s understanding of the score that captures the imagination of audiences and reviewers from Poland and Russia to Singapore to the United States. “The International Liszt Competition on Thursday afternoon was ruled by the very professional, serious, and beautiful performance of Steven Spooner from the U.S.A. His playing was thought through to the finest detail from the beginning to its perfect conclusion. His Transcendental Etudes, Wilde Jagd and Harmonies du Soir were virtuosic and emotionally stirring. The Schubert Serenade in Liszt’s transcription was both lyrical and clearly conceived.”The Breslau News, Wroclaw, Poland.
Steven Spooner has released more than 30 recordings on the Naxos, A Life of Music, and other recording labels. He has studied at Paris Conservatory, Moscow and Tbilisi Conservatories in the former Soviet Union, and Indiana University, Bloomington. In 2008 he was the final recipient of the Ivory Classics Foundation Prize that enabled him to study with the legendary virtuoso Earl Wild.
He has served as guest artist-in-residence at Paris Conservatory Summer Sessions and has been appointed to the Artist Faculty of the Colburn Music Academy, Amalfi Coast Music Festival, the International Institute for Young Musicians, Musicfest Perugia, the Adam Gyorgy Castle Academy in Budapest, and the JCoM Fest in Jakarta. Mr. Spooner serves on the piano faculty at the University of Kansas and is the winner of the 2014 Scholarly Achievement Award given to faculty members who enhance the university’s international reputation.
Steven Spooner is a Steinway Artist. Further info:www.stevenspooner.com.