Joanne Polk (Piano)
Earl Wild’s Seven Virtuoso Etudes transform Gershwin’s simple popular songs into works that challenge the technical prowess of the best concert pianists without losing the underlying style of the originals. His Variations on “Someone to Watch Over Me” is a free pianistic realization of the tune, much the way that Liszt’s operatic “paraphrases” are free interpretations of vocal music popular in the mid-19th century, perhaps suggesting that the worlds of classical music and American popular song are not as far removed as we think. Wild’s Piano Sonata breathes the same pianistic air as the Gershwin transcriptions, where the influence of jazz and blues is everywhere apparent. Joanne Polk was catapulted into the public eye with her recordings of the complete piano works of American composer Amy Beach on the Arabesque Recordings label. She celebrated the centennial of Beach’s Piano Concerto by giving the work its London premiere. She was recently named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Professionals of the Year in 2014.