Dr. Kenneth Saxon has performed in Italy, Singapore, Mexico and thoughout the United States. In 2007 he was recognized as a Distinguished Musician by judges at the IBLA Grand Prize international music competition held in Ragusa-Ibla, Sicily.
Saxon’s article, “The Secrets of Sight-Reading” is featured in the current issue (No. 37) of Pianist magazine.
Saxon’s intense performances of 13 Preludes, Op. 32 by Sergei Rachmaninoff have garnered accolades in Mexico, the United States and Sicily. Listeners have noted the pianist’s dedication to Rachmaninoff’s score and to bringing the music to life as the composer intended it.
He has recorded Kawai Shiu’s clear shade for the CD, music of kawai shiu (SSR0004) and Shiu’s Winter Tide for the CD, eXchange:China (CRI805). During the Spring of 2005, he premiered Shiu’s piano piece la negacion de simbolos which was written for him.
As a collaborative pianist, Saxon has performed with Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Louis Lane, Kawai Shiu, Stafford and Rebecca Turner, Andrea Dawson and many others. Saxon is the Coordinator of Collaborative Piano at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
He holds a doctorate in piano performance from the University of Alabama where he was awarded a Graduate Council Fellowship. His teachers include Amanda Penick, Helen Ramsaur, Elizabeth Buday, Anthony di Bonaventura and Bela Nagy.
At one time the concept of complete sets of Rachmaninov Preludes, either Op.23 or Op.32, meant Moura Lympany. Today there are a couple of dozen recordings of the Op.32 available and here we have another, performed by the soloist/accompanist Kenneth Saxon. The Preludes Op.32 are among the composer''s most important works and though punishing in their demands on the pianist are inspired not so much by Liszt as by the short, polyphonic works of Schumann. Mr. Saxon handles the opening Allegro vivace with a light, but not weak touch, leading to a well-played coda. The fifth (moderato) was much more impressive both in the pianist''s finger-work and his maintenance of polyphonic clarity. These positive features continue in the well-known sixth Prelude with some dramatic effectiveness added. The more gentle seventh (Moderato) and eighth (Vivo) Preludes are well-handled and really bring out what seem to be Saxon''s strong points: fineness of touch, a penchant for gentle as opposed to dramatic music and excellent handling of polyphony. These are all especially noticeable in No.8. Saxon excels with the best-known Op. 32 Prelude, the mysterious and passionate twelfth. This is arguably his best playing of all the Preludes, especially given that the twelfth is almost ubiquitous. The soloist continues his fine playing with the last Prelude, especially in the second half of the piece. William Kreindler --https://www.tradebit.com
The 13 Preludes, Op. 32 (1910), complete a cycle of 24 preludes in all keys that Sergei Rachmaninoff began with his famous Prelude in C-sharp Minor, Op. 3 No. 2 (1892). With Op. 32, Rachmaninoff''s piano writing acquired a more intimate and motivically concise style that is less obviously virtuosic than the 11 Preludes, Op. 23 (1903-4). Commentators of Rachmaninoff''s piano music frequently note Rachmaninoff''s indebtedness to the orchestral breadth of Franz Liszt''s piano writing and the freely contrapuntal approach of Frédéric Chopin, but perhaps much of Rachmaninoff''s style in Op. 32 may be traced to the aphoristic works of Robert Schumann, whose Carnaval Rachmaninoff performed with such magisterial pianism and musicianship. Schumann seems particularly present in the tenacious emphasis on polyphony and the unique, yet strangely idiomatic layout of the piano writing. Regardless of his influences, Rachmaninoff here produced some of his richest piano writing, taking complete advantage of every aspect of the powerful yet singing quality of the piano in the early 20th century. Though there are formidable difficulties for the pianist, the Op. 32 Preludes contain few measures of traditional virtuoso elements such as octave passages, brilliant scales and thorny double notes. In these works virtuosity is united with an uncompromised musical goal, the realization of music whose great lyrical and harmonic variety is only seemingly obscured by its dense and opaque presentation on the page. In capable hands, the music reveals a rich tapestry of texture and polyphony that is ultimately marked by clarity and color in a true marriage of musicianship and technique. These preludes reward the pianist''s labor with some of the most gratifying piano music ever composed. They reward the listener with an experience that is only enhanced by repeated hearings. Kenneth Saxon
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