PRESS & REVIEWS//
“Rarely have I come across a disc that checks virtually all of the boxes listing attributes I crave in recordings. Most importantly, Heidi Louise Williams’ choices of piano works is spot-on, not only in terms of quality (each of the pieces ranges from excellent to near-masterpiece), but in the commonalities that are threaded throughout the survey and lend an intriguing unity. I’m tempted to say that this is a disc that even those who express revulsion of contemporary music will find compelling ... All of this is terrific music, played with conviction...”
-MICHAEL CAMERON, FANFARE MAGAZINE
TOP CLASSICAL ALBUMS OF 2011
"An all-American program of solo piano music that is lots of fun, beginning with John Adams' manic American Berserk and ending with a trio of superb Etudes by William Bolcom. The stuff in between, by Tower, Crozier, Yi and Thomas, is good, too."
-PHILADELPHIA CITY PAPER
“Pianist Heidi Louise Williams gives us one of the most invigorating collections of American solo piano music I can recall hearing, with a great variety of music that is consistently engrossing. The theatrical range that her recital includes is veritably operatic, and she carries it all off with tremendous panache and integrity.”
-CRITIC'S WANT LISTS, FANFARE MAGAZINE
"Williams doesn't just play the music, she lives it.”
-CLASSICAL MUSIC SENTINEL
“The passion of enthusiasm for this repertoire of both soprano Mary Mackenzie and pianist Heidi Louise Williams shines through this twofer. The piece Vocalism by John Harbison sets Whitman; the title page proclaims it as a “grand aria” and it does indeed have a feeling of huge confidence, even swagger, about it.
Composed for SongFest, the emotional range of Vocalism is huge, as is the palette both soprano and pianist bring to the performance. Mackenzie’s lively tone seems to fit the story-telling perfectly... An intimate warmth suffuses James Primosch’s Waltzing the Spheres in his setting of Susan Scott Thompson, the golden harmonies leaving a memorable impression; Heidi Louise Williams finds just the right sound, her final gesture almost questioning...Crozier’s Four Poems of Emily Dickinson is a fascinating set that draws one in over repeated listenings. It reveals its secrets slowly, and the performers here project that aspect with great understanding, presenting it as mysterious to the core; and yet, in harmonic terms, often remarkably fragrant. Mackenzie is particularly impressive in the vocal asks of “Angels in the Early morning,” the second song, her acrobatics against the fleeting staccato passages of Williams.
Williams’ sound painting against Mackenzie’s rapt delivery of the text makes for a powerful combination...Presentation and recording of this offering are impeccable, while the accompanying notes are as generous as the spirit of the performances."
-COLIN CLARKE, FANFARE MAGAZINE
Art Songs Are Alive and Well
"...the word needs to get out to any and all who are drawn to this intimate art form...In the end, less is more, a characteristic shared by many of these composers; Mary Mackenzie has an interpretive agility that balances climactic expressions with a ‘hear-between-the-lines’ simplicity.
The discs close with Primosch’s 1999 “Holy the Firm.” [...] again we are captivated by the cascades of ‘wave music’ that Williams produces so masterfully."
-GREG HETTMANSBERGER, WHATGREGSAYS.WORDPRESS.COM
“Mackenzie is one of those rare singers who focuses strongly on contemporary music—she has a close association with many composers and previously recorded works by John Harbison and Primosch for Albany. I have great admiration for singers who can meet the demands of contemporary vocal music: clear diction, spot-on intonation across wide leaps, flexibility when the vocal line presents melisma, an ability to communicate the feelings behind atonal and exotic melodies (or non-melodies), and an expanded imagination that adapts itself to each composer’s unique voice. Mackenzie displays all of these qualities, and her partnership with Williams, who surmounts all the challenges presented by contemporary piano music with real bravura, is seamless."
-HUNTLEY DENT, FANFARE MAGAZINE
SongFest: soprano Mary Mackenzie and pianist Heidi Louise Williams discuss American Art Song today.
-COLIN CLARKE, FANFARE MAGAZINE
“Pianist Heidi Louise Williams played an excellent New York Debut Recital…impeccable soloistic authority…excellent pianistic equipment and a finely developed sense of interpretive style…dispatched with the utmost fluency, clarity and genial humor. Ms. Williams provided dazzling performances.”
-HARRIS GOLDSMITH, NEW YORK CONCERT REVIEW, ALICE TULLY HALL, LINCOLN CENTER RECITAL
“Williams made it all look simple...a rare pleasure to hear such a wide variety of dynamic range, the very highest volume used only sparingly and appropriately...Williams has a fabulous technique and a ton of class.”
-ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
“The formidable stature of pianist Williams was immediately apparent…an expression of emotional strength underlined by an understanding of formal structure and controlled development that permeated the entire concerto. Ms. Williams is an excellent pianist with a brilliance and accuracy of rendition that serve Beethoven the Classic well. Her exquisite phrasing coupled with a wide range of intelligent dynamic shadings serve Beethoven the Romantic equally well. Under Williams’ hands mere figurations, transitions and especially cadenzas sounded musically stunning. A memorable performance.”
-DIETER KOBER, CHICAGO CHAMBER ORCHESTRA
“The playing on this recital was, quite simply, stunning in its clarity and care. Even more impressive, however, were the musicality and clear, wide-ranging attention to musical style...a rare find indeed.”
"Heidi Louise Williams...has the muscularity and poetic power to bring this demanding repertory to life."
-AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
“Everything here is delivered with bold yet thoughtful playing by Heidi Louise Williams, a superb young American pianist and Peabody Conservatory grad. This is a terrific presentation of music by living composers, an unabashed pleasure to listen to, but also provocative and stimulating.”
-PETER BURWASSER, FANFARE MAGAZINE
“Drive American, a recital of American keyboard music, spans nearly 25 years of American piano music. These works are played with insight and understanding by pianist Heidi Louise Williams. Among the highlights are American Berserk by John Adams, (the composer tells us the title comes from a phrase used by novelist Philip Roth.) The piece sounds like an exuberant cousin of Stravinsky’s Piano Rag Music, and Ragtime of 1918, that is to say, a Cubist jazzy piece that rushes and jumps all over the page in what Adams described as “bipolar shifts of mood and tempo.” It is great fun on the ears and Ms. Williams plays it with an appealing forward momentum.
Joan Tower’s No Longer Very Clear is a collection of four pieces written at different times. This is music that impresses on repeated hearings. The pieces at first have cryptic titles but the music, subtle on melody but high on motion and rhythm, becomes more rewarding as you listen. The first piece, Holding a Daisy, is inspired by a Georgia O’Keefe painting, and opens musically in a colorful way but without melodic sentiment. The second, titled Or like a…an Engine, is dedicated to pianist Ursula Oppens for the 50th anniversary of radio station WNYC-FM. Here the music picks up speed with motorized rhythms. Vast Antique Cubes attempts to create a vast space and gradual ascent as a structural element giving the pianist a chance to play in legato and the longest piece, Throbbing Still, is more elaborate, and perhaps more personal in its meaning. Here Joan Tower, without obvious allusions to other composers recalls the influences she grew up with in South America including Inca rhythms and the works of Stravinsky.
Bolcom’s three Etudes were written in memory of the great Paul Jacobs and I can’t help feeling on listening that Williams plays them with the same sensitivity and beauty that Jacobs would have brought to them. This album is highly recommended to anyone who loves to explore and discover important new music for the piano."
“. . . Heidi Louise Williams is a superb pianist who clearly has an affinity for modern repertoire. She is a graduate of the Peabody Institute and has taught in a number of prestigious universities including Florida State University and Southern Illinois University. She has an impressive technique and a phrasing and style that fit this music perfectly!
I enjoyed this disc a great deal, both for Ms. Williams’ terrific performance but also because this program contains music by people whose work I already know and like very much. I think this album should appeal to anyone who wants to stretch their knowledge of modern piano repertoire or who already appreciates the amazing variety and feel that American composers have come to characterize. I believe you will enjoy the drive!”
“Ms. Williams presented herself as both a chamber musician acutely aware of her collaborators and as a charismatic and musicianly soloist fully up to the demands of her chosen repertoire…in addition to a fluid but not flashy technique is a deeply probing musicianship which enables [her] to play the way a good actor acts: with a natural ease and convincing dramatic gesture…full of tonal beauty and that wonderful naturalness of expression which makes her playing a pleasure to hear.”
-TIMOTHY GILLIGAN, NEW YORK CONCERT REVIEW, WEILL HALL AT CARNEGIE HALL RECITAL
“Williams’ technical brilliance and deep understanding of the musical challenges contained in Ravel’s impressionist masterpieces and Liszt’s impassioned ‘Mephisto Waltz’ provided a model of inspiration for the large concert gathering on hand. Williams reached a formidable pinnacle in technical control and emotive impact in her interpretations. Both in Ravel’s style of pianism and Liszt’s glittering flourishes, she matched challenges of virtuosity with apparent ease and remarkable timbral beauty. Obviously, she is a powerful keyboard artist whose growing reputation will continue to be appreciated in wider circles.”
-MT. VERNON REGISTER NEWS
“Heidi Louise Williams is a truly consummate pianist and chamber musician. Her strength, facility, and control are more than matched by a keen ear, a lively intelligence, and an abundant imagination. In rehearsal she struck a fine balance between openness toward others’ ideas and a refreshing directness about her own musical convictions. In performance there was a sureness in her playing that inspired confidence, as well as a supple responsiveness that encouraged spontaneity and allowed for exciting, in-the-moment creativity. I would strongly urge any musician to take advantage of the opportunity to work with this outstanding artist.”
-TIMOTHY SHIU, VIOLINIST
“Both as soloist and chamber musician, Heidi Louise Williams displayed technical mastery and great artistry. I was immediately struck by her extraordinary ability to communicate true emotion in her playing. Her technical mastery, level of preparedness, and musical insight placed her among the finest musicians I have worked with.”
-ROBERT SIROTA, COMPOSER
“I am happy to tell the world that Heidi Louise Williams’ performance of the Mozart A Major Concerto K. 488 with the Oregon Symphony was a delight! The outer movements sparkled and she brought a wistful, haunting beauty to the Adagio. Williams knew how she wanted the concerto to go, she was in command of the technical matters, and she understood the role of the orchestra. The performance was all that I could have asked for.”
-NORMAN LEYDEN, OREGON SYMPHONY
“This recital was a tremendous event. Intellectually and musically, [Williams] chose one of the most demanding programs any artist might wish to communicate to an audience. She rose to an extraordinary level and delivered both works at the peak of her powers. There were areas in both the Bach and the Schumann that were indescribably incandescent and rose completely out of herself into a rarified arena of artistry. This can only continue as her life moves on into its next chapters.”