Then came one of the day’s highlights: pianist Joanna MacGregor’s exceptional interpretation of the Goldberg Variations. With her tone as poised as it was subtly refined, she explored the many planes on which Bach’s structure operates, highlighting its protean variety of texture in a performance that touched the sublime.
Royal Albert Hall, The Guardian
Joanna MacGregor, making her Chicago Symphony Orchestra debut, was just the sort of soloist this music needs – firm of rhythm, incisive of attack, as coolly commanding at the keyboard as Boulez was on the podium. A terrific performance all around.
She performed some of the most profound and inventive music in the piano repertory. From the beginning of her sixty-minute recital with the delicate Baroque extravagance of William Byrd’s Hughe Ashton’s Ground to ending with Astor Piazzolla’s most famous tangos, her performance was laden with bravura technique tastefully put to individual interpretation… Joanna MacGregor is to be applauded for bringing a challenging and diverse programme to a new audience who may not be regular classical concert-goers.
Joanna MacGregor’s career is practically built on a reinvention of the star virtuoso tradition, applied to the often cerebral and style-oblivious world of contemporary music. But MacGregor’s verve, energy and astounding technique are always at the service of the music and never vice versa. Her ability to inhabit so many sound worlds with the same intensity and commitment is profoundly impressive – so why not flaunt it?
BBC Classical Review
It was the effusive spirit of British pianist Joanna MacGregor that stole the limelight. Her gregarious, jazzy style and rhythmic vitality speak volumes, bringing great passion and adventurous spirit to her music making.
The Australian, Sydney Opera House
MacGregor has played a huge role in British music over the past years, helping to sweep away the rather dusty old concert pianist image, wheeling and dealing with the best in jazz as well as being one heck of a classical and contemporary music player, not to mention conducting and composing.
Adelaide Advertiser, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Joanna MacGregor filled the Goldberg Variations with dancing energy and occasional moments of outright eccentricity, and in a brilliant stroke made the final aria emerge magically from the echoes of the previous piece.
Royal Albert Hall, The Daily Telegraph
The Hugh Wood piano concerto still suits MacGregor perfectly…her performance had drive, wit and glittering precision.
BBC Proms, The Guardian
Joanna MacGregor was then the dream soloist in Adam’s piano concerto, Century Rolls; from the piano-roll virtuosity of the first movement, via flirtatious echoes of Satie and Fats Waller to the jazz, boogie-woogie and blues lines of the third, the scintillating MacGregor proved the perfect foil to Adam’s witty pulsating orchestral writing.
Joanna MacGregor is a mould-breaking artist – innovative, imaginative and challenging. She brings a breath of fresh air to the concert hall with her beguiling personality and individualistic approach to programme planning show to great effect in this memorable recital which ended with a huge ovation for a thought-provoking, powerful and compelling account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations characterised by vital, spontaneous and superbly controlled playing.
With her combination of maverick mind, flamboyant style and conspicuous talent, MacGregor is unlikely to shake off constant media attention any time soon.
Sydney Morning Herald
Joanna MacGregor has transformed the image of the classical pianist, bringing great passion and adventurous spirit to her music making.
About Adelaide, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
In the slow and highly lyrical variations MacGregor was at her most eloquent, pushing the limits of tonal colouring in the intense and poignant lines, but then diffusing the drama by mischievously jazzing Bach’s quirky rhythms.
The Guardian, Bach’s Goldberg Variations, St George’s Bristol
MacGregor’s sense of the arresting scene, and how to place it within the carnival canvas, is hard to define, yet it nonetheless shows true taste.
BBC Music Magazine
A classical virtuoso, MacGregor has a remarkable facility for combining jazz devices with improvisational motifs of her own.
Joanna MacGregor performs with her customary effortless brilliance and blistering commitment to the cause.
Speaking of slow music, Joanna MacGregor’s poetic playing of the andante in Mozart’s 12th piano concerto was absolutely wonderful. The piano fairly sang and the whole thing was sheer delight from beginning to end, a masterly performance of featherlight dexterity, loving shaping and phrasing which never cloyed.
MacGregor seems incapable of giving performances that are not at once extremely intelligent and entertaining…. She brilliantly multi-tracked herself in Conlon Nancarrow studies intended for player-piano, but bare musicality prevailed in her closing piece, a deeply touching account of the Allemande from Bach’s Fourth Partita.
The Sunday Times
She is one of the most exciting and enterprising pianists of the moment.