All at Naxos were saddened to hear of the passing of American pianist, teacher and author Joseph Banowetz on 3 July, aged 87. As a prolific recording artist for the Naxos, Marco Polo and Grand Piano labels, his performances regularly drew glowing comments from reviewers, examples of which are posted below.
Banowetz studied first in New York with Carl Friedberg (a pupil of Clara Schumann) before graduating with the First Prize in piano performance from the Vienna Akademie für Musik und Darstellende Kunst, where his teachers included György Sándor (a pupil of Bartók). He went on to become a noted authority on the music of Anton Rubinstein, making the first recordings of the composer’s solo piano works, together with recordings of all eight of his works for piano and orchestra.
Banowetz performed regularly at venues around the world, both as a recitalist and orchestral soloist, appearing with orchestras such as the St Petersburg Philharmonic, the Moscow State Symphony, the Prague and Bratislava Radio Orchestras, the Budapest Symphony, the Barcelona Concert Society Orchestra, the New Zealand Symphony, the Beijing National Philharmonic, the Shanghai Symphony, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Seoul Philharmonic.
In 2007 Banowetz’s recording of works by Balakirev on the Toccata Classics label received two GRAMMY nominations, while his 2010 Naxos recording of the Paul Kletzki Piano Concerto received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Instrumental Solo Performance with Orchestra.
While saddened at his passing, we remain ever grateful to Joseph Banowetz for his distinguished recorded legacy that includes some thirty much prized albums.
Kletzki: Piano Concerto
‘These are virtuosic works that sound extremely difficult to play, yet in the hands of Joseph Banowetz they emerge articulate, lucid, eloquent, and authoritative.’
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1 • Liszt: Piano Concerto No. 1
‘A splendid, dashing account of the First Concerto from Banowetz, well coupled with Chopin, has the full measure of the work’s flamboyance and its poetry.’
– Penguin Guide
Weigl: Isle of the Dead
‘Banowetz is an excellent pianist whose warm tone and expressive manner are stylistically well matched with Weigl’s Viennese aesthetic … his touch delineates every nuance … his pedaling beautifully complements his incisive technique.’
Liszt: Song Transcriptions
‘This is a wonderful disc, in which pianism of the highest quality is brought to bear on repertoire which might seem outdated, but which springs to life thanks to the technique and insight of Joseph Banowetz.’
Friedman: Original Piano Compositions
Grand Piano GP711
‘All of the pieces here are impeccably recorded and played. Over his career, Joseph Banowetz has made many recordings and he sounds very much at home in this repertoire.’
– MusicWeb International