Joseph Kubera, Pianist

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One final word about Joe Kubera. Performance of this piece [Michael Byron’s Dreamers of Pearl] is a feat of enormous stamina. It’s unrelenting and knuckle busting. He maintains a deep, intense engagement with the music that never flags, and you can tell he’s mining it at every moment for its maximum impact. I’ve heard him in a lot of recordings by now, and sometimes in live performance. I think he may well be this era’s David Tudor—virtuosic, smart as hell, far more eclectic in his tastes than you might think, with a marathoner’s strength to deal with any transcendental performance challenge.

Robert Carl – Fanfare Magazine

Cage heard a tape of pianist Joseph Kubera performing the Etudes Australes and he was thrilled. He explained that Kubera played the piece without any sense of forward motion and just made sounds, something he had not yet heard any other pianist achieve with the Etudes.

“Blue” Gene Tyranny – New Music Box

[Musical excerpt] Now, imagine something like that going on, pretty much the same texture and same intensity, for 53 solid minutes. That's Michael Byron's new Dreamers of Pearl (2005), just released on a New World CD by possibly the only pianist who could currently achieve such a feat, human player-piano Joe Kubera.  But it's a relentless, fanatical piece… Easily the most magnificent thing I've heard him do, Dreamers of Pearl is a perfect example of the “Absolute Present” I wrote about recently. There are no landmarks, no before and after, just a continual present with barely enough mixture of repetition and randomness to keep you thinking you're about to figure it out. Absolutely beautiful…

Kyle Gann –  “Relentless Present,” PostClassic blog

The Xenakis [Palimpsest, 1979], in fact, is all about incompatibilities yoked together. Its prominent piano line, played energetically by Joseph Kubera, swings between mechanistic and freewheeling, and is sometimes both at once, as one hand plays to a robotic beat, and the other scampers wildly.

Allan Kozinn, New York Times

Next, the stage was set for a performance by concert pianist Joseph Kubera.  His piece – daring, challenging, and full of contrast; shaped by extreme time signatures like eleven-eight and seventeen-eight; and full of split-second shifts between quiet and loud and crashing and quiet again – sounded utterly contemporary. [Roscoe Mitchell’s 8-8-88]

Nate Seltenrich – East Bay Express

Listen to [Michael Sahl’s] absolutely brilliant 35-minute piano piece "Serenades" here in wonderful performance by Joseph Kubera. It is haunting music - beautiful, lyrical, surprising and, while clearly "classical" even more seamlessly colloquial than anything by his contemporaries Philip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Written in 1994, its compositional poise is perfect. The world has, indeed, caught up with him - all praise.

Buffalo News

Mr. Kubera’s precise and sharp performance helped make Ms. Hoover’s work [Katherine Hoover] accessible to the audience, especially in the beautiful, almost impressionistic, lines of her “Dream,” which set up the arresting rhythmic quality of the rest of the piece, and in the intellectually challenging puzzles in “Three + Three.”

The program finished, appropriately enough, with “Solo,” an inventive, long-distance sprint, written by the festival’s musical director, Lukas Foss.  Mr. Kubera was up to meeting Mr. Foss’s technical challenges, while exactingly laying down the hypnotic repetitions that give the work its expressive beauty.

David Swickard – East Hampton Star

The approximately 500-seat auditorium was packed. Joseph Kubera…played Cage’s Sonatas and Interludes for prepared piano with such exquisite feeling for the sonorities and their shadings that the listeners sat in hyper-intense silence during the rendition of all 20 pieces, the pent-up applause breaking out at the end like flood water through a dam.
Louis Christensen - Numus-West Magazine

Joseph Kubera excelled in crashing vertical masses…akin to serialism and improv. Kubera could turn on a dime… [His] greatest strength was an Alfred Brendel-like ability to keep any number of dynamic levels going at the same time. [He] exercised control [and] led the ear to long-range connections. Noncomposers like Kubera are opening up the downtown scene in exciting new ways.
Kyle Gann - Village Voice

Much the most impressive work of the evening was Alvin Lucier’s Still Lives, another of his pieces in which electronic tones slowly sweep the air and tangle with any instrumental sounds that happen to be there. The effects – rhythmic beats, combination tones in the deep bass, curvings in the piano’s normal steady resonance – are magical, provided the performer has the sensitivity to let the piece take over. Mr. Kubera did exactly that.
Paul Griffiths  - The New York Times

It can’t be easy to play [Cage’s] Music of Changes: it goes like the wind and requires almost constant commuting from the inside of the instrument to the keyboard…. An incredible range of sounds whose striking individuality is needed to structural purposes as well as for sheer beauty of surface. Mr. Kubera rose to the occasion: his performance was easy, secure, and geared always to the total effect.
Charles Shere - Oakland Tribune

An inspired and inspiring rendering of Cage’s compositions. Especially noteworthy in this respect was Joseph Kubera’s outstanding performance on the piano. Energetic and precise, he brought to life Cage’s unpredictable sound-world in the exacting Music of Changes I & II.
Rene van Peer - Eindhovens Dagblad Netherlands

Kubera’s playing was masterful, bringing out every nuance and delicacy in the pieces yet employing an energy and directness of attack that I’d never heard before on this most fragile of Cage’s compositions (Sonatas and Interludes).
Loren Means - Berkeley Barb


The whole feeling was one of freshness and casual grace – the program ideas, the performing style, the personal style of the pianist Joseph Kubera. An excellent recital, loudly applauded.
John Dwyer - Buffalo News

Played with confidence, eloquence, and necessary clarity. Mr. Kubera’s performance had a firmness and certainty that enhanced the composition.
David Garland - Ear Magazine

Joseph Kubera’s astonishing feat April 22 [1993] at Greenwich House was his precision endurance as a human metronome: in La Monte Young’s 1201 from 1960 … he played a double-forearm cluster 1201 times over 26 minutes, keeping a beat that started at 47 booms per minute and had dropped by the end to only 46.5.
Kyle Gann - Village Voice

Kotik is an old Cage hand, and Kubera stands at the forefront of new-music advocacy. The recording…is a model of dynamic detail. The quite independent piano part in Concert for Piano and Orchestra has been used in the tape-piece Fontana Mix and as accompaniment to a lecture. And yet, to return to a stubborn need, one hears an interplay between Kubera’s quite independent piano line and Kotik’s ensemble. Certain enigmas are all the more fetching for remaining just that. [Review of Cage; Concert for Piano and Orchestra, Wergo CD WER 6212-2 / 286 216-2]
Mike Silverton - La Folia Online Music Reviews

[Beth Anderson’s] Piano Concerto, dating from 1997…ambles along without a care in the world, sounding at times like a revival hymn with Gospel music overtones, and before you know it 13 and a half minutes have flown by. I played it again immediately, and you may well want to do the same. Joseph Kubera offers a relaxed and gracious account of the solo part, very well integrated into the ensemble. Indeed, the sonics throughout are state of the art.
David Hurwitz -

My favorite Anderson work so far, though, is the 12-minute Concerto for piano and six instruments that pianist Joseph Kubera premiered a few years ago, whose rollicking, modal tunes do crescendo into a rare Anderson apotheosis.

Kyle Gann - Chamber Music Magazine February 2001