Pioneers: Piano Works by Female Composers

Hiroko Ishimoto presents an illuminating program of piano music spanning almost 300 years. And all of it by women. It’s a terrific recording, with exceptional performances. I heartily recommend it.

Before digging into the details, let’s do a little thought experiment. What if this were a recording of similar music — by male composers? Well, it probably wouldn’t be titled “Pioneers.” And the subtitle would simply be “piano works.”

That’s how deeply ingrained gender bias is in the classical music world. Projects like Ishimoto’s address that. Some of the composers presented here are already well-known. Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Cecile Chaminade, and Lili Boulanger are already well-represented in recordings and performances.

Of comparable quality to the works of those composers are the other women in this program. Some were major figures in their own countries. Agathe Grøndahl of Norway studied with Franz Liszt and was a colleague of Edward Grieg.

Croatian Dora Pejacevic composed the first modern symphony in her country. Anna Bon was a keyboard virtuoso, a published composer at age 16, and possibly worked with Franz Joseph Haydn.

And there’s more. Every composer has a story, and every composer (as represented here) is worth listening to. My recommendation: get this release, and use it as a starting point for your own exploration of women composers, past and present.

Pioneers: Piano Works by Female Composers
Hiroko Ishimoto, piano
Grand Piano GP844

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