Pianist Joanne Polk was catapulted into the public eye with her recordings of the complete piano works of American composer Amy Beach (1867-1944) on the Arabesque Recordings label. Ms. Polk celebrated the centennial of Beach’s Piano Concerto by giving the work its London premiere with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Barbican Center under the baton of Paul Goodwin. A few days later, Ms. Polk performed the Piano Concerto with the Women’s Philharmonic in San Francisco with conductor Apo Hsu in a performance described as “brilliant” by critic Joshua Kosman of the San Francisco Chronicle. He went on to describe Ms. Polk’s performance as, “an enormously vital, imaginative reading. Her playing was expansive in the opening movement, brittle and keen in the delightful scherzo. She brought a light touch to the foreshortened slow movement and fearless technical penache to the showy conclusion.”
The first recording in the Beach series, by the still waters, received the 1998 INDIE award for best solo recording. Empress of Night, the fifth volume of Ms. Polk’s survey of Beach’s piano works, includes the Piano Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra, Paul Goodwin conducting. The sixth volume of the series, Morning Glories, joins Ms. Polk with the Lark Quartet in three outstanding chamber music works by Amy Beach. Two all-Beach performances at Merkin Concert Hall, which featured Joanne Polk and the Lark Quartet, were applauded by the New York Times, as they deemed Polk’s performances “polished and assured.” American Record Guide reported, “Polk and the Larks played their hearts out. We in the audience shouted ourselves hoarse with gratitude.”
Prior to recording the complete piano music of Amy Beach, Ms. Polk recorded Completely Clara: Lieder by Clara Wieck Schumann, her debut CD for Arabesque Recording, featuring Metropolitan Opera soprano Korliss Uecker. This CD was selected as a “Best of the Year” recording by The Seattle Times and was featured on Performance Today on New York Public Radio. Ms. Polk’s CD for Albany Records, Callisto, features the solo piano music of Judith Lang Zaimont. Her CD titled Songs of Amy Beach, recorded with baritone Patrick Mason for Bridge Records, was nominated for a Grammy Award.