Jacob Greenberg


Classics Today
February 26, 2016

"The International Contemporary Ensemble works intensively with composers in bringing works into being from initial ideas to final performance, from process to product. In the case of this release...ICE's game plan has paid off handsomely. Although [Nathan Davis's] Ghostlight is written for prepared piano, many notes are left untouched by implements like screws, washers, and erasers. It adds up to a marvelous textural fusion of prepared and unprepared sonorities an overtones that hold your attention for ten well-contrasted minutes, abetted by Jacob Greenberg's polished and perceptive pianism."

February 22, 2016

WQXR album of the week
"Nathan Davis and [his] ICE colleagues manage to be as satisfying to the intellect as they are exciting to the ear...Davis's Ghostlight is [a] reflection on interiority: a sensual exploration of the inside of an ingeniously prepared piano (played by Jacob Greenberg), one of three solo works on the album...played here by some of the most thrilling virtuosi of the American avant garde. One often hears an artist of ensemble described as a "force" on the music scene, but rarely is it so true as it is in the case of ICE, whose very presence on the American scene pushes back against inertia to demonstrate just how energetic and innovative--how new--new music can be."

Seen and Heard International
September 2015

"[Soprano Tony] Arnold's eclectic ear also encompasses gentle lyricism like David Liptak's "Beauty and the Beast" from Dove Songs, and George Crumb's delicate, mysterious "In the Forest of Clocks" from The Yellow Moon of Andalusia. Her gaze also lit up three gems from Anton Webern, and György Kurtág's Requiem for the Beloved, all with the agile and alert keyboard work of pianist Jacob Greenberg."

Los Angeles Times
June 11, 2015

"ICE and red fish blue fish, this year's resident ensembles in Ojai, offered dazzingly virtuosic performances of Boulez's work early and late. Pianist Jacob Greenberg played Incises...as though it were explosive jazz."

The Guardian (UK)
May 6, 2015

"Five sets of songs with piano, sung with remarkable poise and warmth by soprano Tony Arnold, with pianist Jacob Greenberg, dominate the [Webern] disc [on Naxos]...What all the songs have in common is brevity: each is a perfectly etched miniature, a nugget of impacted lyricism, and Arnold unwraps them with immense care."

San Diego Union-Tribune
December 11, 2014

"Rand Steiger's Coalescence, an instrumental cycle written for the International Contemporary Ensemble, finally came home Thursday...flutist Claire Chase and pianist Jacob Greenberg's elegant, even luminescent, approach to Light on Water were as revelatory about the performers as the composer."

Night After Night (Steve Smith)
March 27, 2014

"Two separate recitals by brilliant pianists heard most frequently in group settings: Jacob Greenberg of the International Contemporary Ensemble, and Reiner van Houdt in the Ives Ensemble... One remarkable broad span of avant-garde piano, [including] Ludwig van Beethoven..the playing was brilliant...via email, I learned that Greenberg's rendition of Helmut Lachenmann's treacherous Serenade was his first public performance of the work. Look forward to more chances to hear it, and to hear it grow in Greenberg's hands."

The New York Times
March 26, 2014

"Next to Carnegie Hall, perhaps, there might be no finer public space in which to hear a piano recital in New York than Spectrum...Combining dissimilar works related in some way has been a preoccupation for Mr. Greenberg in his series Music at Close Range. What linked Beethoven's Sonata no. 31 in A-flat (op. 110) with [Helmut] Lachenmann's Serynade (1998, revised 2000), he explained, were sentations involving juxtaposed time and longing... What Mr. Greenberg brought to Beethoven was honesty and deep consideration. He thoughtfully managed each touch, phrase and transition to meaningful ends, whether fiery, tender, or obsessive. Serynade, a halting, ghostly procession of tones and chords sustained and shaded through elaborate keyboard and pedal techniques, demonstrated Mr. Greenberg's heroic dexterity. More, though, it confirmed the penchant for nuance and depth that he had demonstrated in Beethoven."

January 30, 2014

"One hymn-like theme [in Harawi] recurs multiple times over resoundingly tonal chords, contented and loving. Each time, Arnold and Greenberg imbue it with both tenderness and understated strength. In "Adieu," the center of the cycle, they slowly allow it to become wildly impassioned. When it returns a final time in the last song, "Dans le noir," that pain is gone, and the piano traces starry constellations that slowly descend through the chorale, the lovers merging with the earth and relaxing into eternal peace."

Newark Star-Ledger
December 22, 2013

Best of 2013: Classical Music recordings and performances
"Arnold and Greenberg emerge as enthralling interpreters of Messiaen's Harawi, with a strong rapport. In the birdsong inflections of "Bonjour toi, colombe verte," both are confident and expressive... Through the folkish "Dondou Tchil," the love song of "Piroutcha," the incantation-like "Répétition Planetaire" and the frantic, pecking accelerations into the sweet ending of "Syllables," they provide a valuable window into a work that deserves attention."

Time Out Chicago
December 18, 2013

Best of 2013: Top 10 classical and new-music albums of the year
"Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood is a Messiaen fan, and you will be too...in the deft hands (and vocal cords) of Tony Arnold and Jacob Greenberg, anyway. Enamored by the plot similarities between Wagner's Tristan und Isolde and the Andean love-death songs known as Harawi, Messiaen created a fated romance of his own, here invigorated by two titans of the new-music community... More symphony orchestra than mere piano, Greenberg unleashes behemoth chords in his finale [of "Adieu"]. Whether shadowing, buoying or commenting, Greenberg proves himself a near-clairvoyant collaborator."

Audiophile Audition
December 7, 2013

"Tony Arnold is a marvel in this music, a real new-music trooper twho knows the intricate ins-and-outs of Messiaen, while Jacob Greenberg, also a proven contemporary music warrior, plays with authority and rigorous inventiveness."

The New York Times
November 11, 2013

"On Thursday evening the Miller Theatre presented a composer portrait of Rand Steiger that showed how viscerally affecting computer-processed music can be. Performed by the fiercely committed International Contemporary Ensemble...these chamber works revealed acoustics as a powerful expressive device in music. In the dazzlingly beautiful Light on Water for flute, piano, and electronics, played with great sensuality by the flutist Claire Chase and the pianist Jacob Greenberg, an emotional narrative emerged..."

Chicago Tribune
October 22, 2013

"Thanks to the Chicago Humanities Festival and the amazing contemporary music wizards of the International Contemporary Ensemble, concertgoers were treated to a golden oldie by [George] Crumb...who will turn 84 on Thursday. One of the most durable of his scores is his avant-garde classic, Voice of the Whale...a repertory staple of most new music groups including ICE. Three members of the group - founder and flutist Claire Chase, cellist Katinka Kleijn and pianist Jacob Greenberg - gave an absorbing account of the piece Sunday at the Logan Center for the Performing Arts... Greenberg depicted rumbles and other environmental sounds by strumming, striking and muffling the piano strings. The musicians' fidelity to Crumb's elaborately detailed markings heightened the sense of ritualistic music theater the compsoer had in mind. He could not have wanted a nicer birthday gift than Sunday's caring performance."

Newark Star-Ledger
July 12, 2013

"Breaking up a season of light classics, the formidable team of Tony Arnold and Jacob Greenberg offer a compelling performance of 20th century French composer Olivier Messiaen's Harawi... With a clear, limpid soprano, Arnold makes Messiaen's challenging creation sound effortless. With a languid opening reminiscent of Debussy, the cycle goes on to represent vertigo in dizzily spinning passages. The composer's fascination with exotic birds surfaces in vocal and pianist imitations... [Arnold] and her vastly talented accompanist are in perfect accord throughout, from songs that call for primitive-sounding chanted repetitions to those that build to a wild wail. The recording also includes a dynamic rendition of Cantéyodjaya, a piano work inspired by Hindu rhythms, that gives Greenberg a well-deserved spotlight."

Cleveland Plain Dealer
June 9, 2013

"Olivier Messiaen's inimitable musical personality is in full bloom on this disc, which focuses on Harawi, a cycle of love songs with roots in the South American Andes. The French composer blends a distinctive palette of harmonic colors with exotic and ecstatic vocal lines. Soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg give the songs fiercely articulate performances, and Greenberg is the soloist in Messiaen's Hindu-inspired Cantéyodjaya."

Time Out Chicago
December 19, 2012

Terrestre with Claire Chase is among the ten best classical albums of 2012

Time Out Chicago
September 5, 2012

Preview of solo recital at Congregation Or Chadash

Feast of Music
July 22, 2012

"Where [Kaija Saariaho] deviates from her usual sound lies in the use of harpsichord...the keyboard instrument served as a liaison between Saariaho's modern soundscape and the classical structure of the source material, brilliantly played throughout by the International Contemporary Ensemble's Jacob Greenberg."

The Washington Post
May 12, 2012

"In [Michel van der Aa's] Quadrivial, pianist Jacob Greenberg, armed with a set of drumsticks that he rattled around on the piano body, held the rest of the ensemble in sway, Svengali-like, with false starts and threatening postures...the concluding Transit, a dark silent video with piano score...was the most powerful testimony to the ease with which Van der Aa has brought the visual into his musical world and vice versa."

Fanfare Magazine
March 30, 2012

"Jacob Greenberg, a name new to me, has an extraordinary capacity for difficult and dense music...Greenberg produces a tone [that is] precise, at times spiky; when the pianist plays Schumann there is an almost x-ray quality to his performance. His ideas perfectly reflect those inner workings of the music. Other pianists who tackle [the Busoni Fantasia Contrappuntistica] are overawed by its density of both texture and meaning...Greenberg performs it as he feels it. His playing is free, yet each individual moment fits with the next to form this massive structure by the end. In the end what makes this performance so compelling is its feeling of admiration for a living thing, similar to how Busoni must have felt in composing the piece... If you are looking for a fascinating recording, one that makes you think and feel, then look no further...Greenberg and Busoni make a perfect match."

January 12, 2012

"Claire Chase and the International Contemporary Ensemble...are among the best reasons to be thankful that one is alive and listening to music at the present time. Collaboration, a source of inspiration throughout Chase's career, proved key to the genesis and evolution of her second solo recording. Jacob Greenberg, a classmate at Oberlin and a member of ICE since 2002, produced the disc and lends his prodigious talents as a pianist on two tracks."

Time Out Chicago
December 2011

Schumann and Busoni on New Focus is among the ten best classical albums of 2011

Musical America
September 19, 2011

"The evening [at Miller Theatre, with music of James Dillon] closed with 'Le Femme Invisible' (1989), a chamber piece featuring ICE that allowed both woodwinds and piano (Jacob Greenberg) several dazzling, filigreed solo turns over reiterated chimes...the music sidles up to near sumptuousness, only to bash a listener's expectations with more virtuosic complexity."

Time Out Chicago
July 20, 2011

"Chicago audiences are accustomed to seeing Jacob Greenberg's dome onstage at the MCA with the International Contemporary Ensemble. Yet Greenberg's impressive keyboard prowess extends far beyond the labyrinths of a George Crumb score or the intricate weavings of Varése. For his latest album, the Northwestern grad steps into the age of piano grandmasters Robert Schumann and Ferruccio Busoni for a more tonal exploration of interiors and exteriors.
The intimacy conjured throughout Schumann's Humoreske, op. 20, is a result of a thoroughly supple approach to the keys...one is whisked into nostalgic and fleeting daydreams of the composer, on what Greenberg calls "a solitary walk through the woods.
In "Fantasia Contrappuntistica," an homage to Bach's Art of the Fugue, Greenberg brings forth Busoni's myriad contrapuntal lines in a gush. Even in this extroverted showpiece, Greenberg's phrasing and pacing is deliberate. But in a scene ever more saturated with the histrionics of Lang Lang-ian superstars, the understated approach wins out."

Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise blog
July 6, 2011

Schumann/Busoni CD listed on "Nightafternight playlist"

Chicago Classical Review
January 29, 2011

"A largely youthful capacity audience at the Art Institute's Fullerton Hall was treated to a muscular dose of envelope-pushing music in a postmodern context Friday evening by flutist Claire Chase and pianist Jacob Greenberg...The stylistically eclectic selections ranged from Salvatore Sciarrino...to a solid performance of the moving Thoreau section of Charles Ives's Concord Sonata for piano...[Greenberg displayed] great technical virtuosity...[the Boulez Sonatine] bears frequent rehearing, especially from the hands of such committed performers."

The New York Times
August 18, 2010

"Mr. Birtwistle's Bach Measures...[was] a mood-setting prelude for the complex, arrestingly visceral Slow Frieze. In this 1996 work he tries to evoke in music the effect of seeing a series of ancient friezes, bas-relief panels that seem to convey movement as you walk by. Beginning with staggered bursts of chords for a solo piano (played incisively by Jacob Greenberg), the music evolves in chunks of sound that on the surface seem to be static blocks but quiver with activity within."

MusicWeb International
August 2010

"Every so often during the season a concert comes along that sinks its hooks in your memory and refuses to let go...Jacob Greenberg handled the demanding piano part [of Slow Frieze] with typical grace and ease."

August 18, 2010

"And oh, I would like to hear [Slow Frieze] again, to continue on Mr. Birtwistle's road trip, especially with Jacob Greenberg on piano."

Sequenza 21
August 10, 2010

"Of special interest to me is the spectacularly assured reading given Vox Balaenae, one of [George Crumb's] signature pieces. The ICEers (Claire Chase, flute, Kivie Cahn-Lipman, cello, and Jacob Greenberg, piano) play this moving (and difficult) score as if they were born to it."

Alex Ross: The Rest is Noise blog
July 10, 2010

"I'd like to mention again Jacob Greenberg's fine CD Solitary, with a strikingly polystylistic Lied ohne Worte by the pianist."

The New York Times
July 9, 2010

"The members [of ICE] were ideal emissaries for Edgard Varčse...Mr. Greenberg accompanied Samantha Malk, a soprano, in a velvety rendition of "Un Grand Sommeil Noir."

American Record Guide
July 2010

"Pianist and composer Jacob Greenberg opens this interesting collection [Solitary] with ten selections from the fifth book [of Kurtág's Játékok]...he plays these pieces wonderfully. Next...is his account of Schumann's little played Gesänge der Frühe...Greenberg makes a great case for them. The Schoenberg--a fiendishly difficult work--sounds very enthusiastic, almost truculent...Greenberg's Lied ohne Worte nach Rilke is a delightful miniature, and its compositional quality is completely at home with the other works."

The New York Times
April 24, 2010

"[Claire] Chase and her collaborators showed a consistent knack for
illuminating communicative strands within knotty conceptions. She and Jacob Greenberg, a confident and insightful pianist, made a kittenish frolic of Franco Donatoni's prickly "Fili," and balanced the bright, hard clashes in Pierre Boulez's Sonatine for Flute and Piano with melancholy lyricism and careful attention to color."

Unquiet Thoughts (Alex Ross in the New Yorker)
March 2010

Solitary listed in "Playlist" column

Marc Geelhoed, Deceptively Simple
March 7, 2010

"ICE's pianist Jacob Greenberg has released an exquisite and wide-
ranging disc of Mozart, Schoenberg, Kurtág, Schumann, and his own Lied
ohne Worte Nach Rilke
. Mozart's Rondo in A minor, K. 511, is especially
expressive, and follows nicely, and surprisingly, out of a selection of
Kurtág's Játékok."

Albany Times-Union
March 5, 2010

"...a rare and fascinating presentation [at Troy, NY's EMPAC], called "Solos 2." Three fine young musicians - sopranos Haleh Abghari and Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg - were on hand to perform short works from the medieval, romantic and contemporary eras...we were invited to listen from the stage itself as Greenberg played Debussy Etudes..."

The New York Times
December 4, 2009

"The musicians [of ICE], Jen Curtis and Erik Carlson on violins, Kivie Cahn-Lipman on cello and Jacob Greenberg on piano, played with vigor
and efficiency."

Signal to Noise Magazine
Spring 2009

"Jacob Greenberg brings out the post-Webernian pointillisms [of Crumb's Five Pieces for Piano] while also convincingly demonstrating their innovations...the performers [of ICE] hum, whistle and otherwise emote every sonority of this landmark exploration of sound and time [Vox Balaenae] with conviction...the International Contemporary Ensemble's playing is stunning throughout...Bridge's George Crumb Edition goes from strength to strength, and the fact that the composer supervises every recording renders them definitive."

Fanfare Magazine
January 13, 2009

"Volume 12 of Bridge's George Crumb Edition is graced by the virtues of...performers with incredible chops by the highest of international standards who are deeply in tune with Crumb's language and are fully capable of executing his extended-technique requirements. [...]Five Pieces for Piano provides a fine showcase for Jacob Greenberg's talents. This release fits into my category of required listening."

Washington Post
November 3, 2008

"[Messiaen's Harawi] is a huge work, rife with exotic textures and emotional complexities, and Tony Arnold — accompanied skillfully by Jacob Greenberg at the piano — gave a superb and genuinely insightful account."

Classical Voice of North Carolina
November 2, 2008

"Arnold and Greenberg are highly respected and equally committed to the performance of contemporary music. Greenberg, whose countenance resembles the composer, Kurtág, is a versatile player who performs as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral player. Arnold's singular interpretation was deliciously rich in color and Greenberg's piano collaboration, perfect."

Darmstädter Echo (Germany)
July 17, 2008

"The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza was premiered in Darmstadt in 1968. The text is a sermon from the 16th century, which one experiences through drastically colored cluster sounds and hectic-expressive outbreaks of the piano (Jacob Greenberg) and by the singer (Tony Arnold). Each sound is designed emotion."

October 2007

"[Wolpe's] Ten Early Songs are given fine performances by Tony Arnold and Jacob Greenberg."

Diverdi.com (Spain)
Spring 2007

"The interpretation of Tony Arnold (Ten Early Songs)...with the valuable collaboration of pianist Jacob Greenberg...prompts a vigorous recommendation of this disc of a composer who, paraphrasing the end of the song 'Epitaph' (1938), 'never sang in vain,' no matter how often he was tried to be silenced."

New York Concert Review
Summer 2006

"I was stunned by the voluptuous beauty of [Schoenberg's] 'Erwartung' and 'Nicht Doch.' In most of these songs the musical interest lay in the rich piano part, expressively played by Jacob Greenberg."

Chicago Tribune
December 19, 2005

"Knussen's violin-and-piano piece draws on rhapsodic double-stops and guitarlike brushings of the fiddle strings…David Bowlin and Jacob Greenberg ably dispatched [the piece]."

Buffalo News
September 8, 2005

"With easy grace, Jacob Greenberg played Janacek's "In the Mists," four gentle pieces full of achingly nostalgic, Old World melodies."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
February 25, 2005

James Primosch: Holy the Firm
“Soprano Tony Arnold drew the listeners into the score’s rapturous atmosphere with singing of tonal beauty and dramatic truth. Pianist Jacob Greenberg played his collaborative role with clarity.”

Buffalo News
January 28, 2005

"Jacob Greenberg and Stephen Manes are gifted pianists whose individual recitals are always worth attending. So when word went out that they were teaming up for a concert of music for two pianos, it was reason for the area's keyboard fans to celebrate… the evening featured a particularly arresting performance of Messiaen's 'Visions de l'Amen.'"

Buffalo News
December 1, 2004

"Tuesday night found Jacob Greenberg walking onto the Lippes Hall concert stage, sitting at the piano bench, and unleashing his fingers in the service of Ludwig van Beethoven and Charles Ives. It quickly became apparent from the opening measure of Beethoven's "Variations in F major" that this concert would be a showcase where the composer's art and the performer's art joined together as one… the Beethoven pieces bracketed the Ives scores, embracing 20th-century experiments with 19th-century explorations…the Beethoven emphasized Greenberg's wonderful blend of subtlety and speed, and the "Emerson" of the Ives sonata was about power as a torrent of notes flew from the keyboard in angular discord before finally gliding into an almost funereal mode. The Ives songs presented in the recital were quirky in their own right…it was here that Greenberg revealed his not inconsiderable talents as an accompanist, subtlely guiding and coaching the singers along the musical path…Beethoven's great "Eroica Variations" closed out the evening in spectacular fashion, and it became apparent that no encore was needed. Everything was perfect as it was."

Buffalo News
September 11, 2004

"Tony Arnold is an amazing singer, and pianist Jacob Greenberg is an outstanding accompanist. Together, they have the ability to plunge a receptive listener into the depths of their programs through a combination of stunning power and beguiling subtlety.

"To say that their take on 'Les Nuits d’Été' was revelatory would be to damn with faint praise. Greenberg’s pianism was sensitive without being cloying, flowing behind Arnold’s special artistry and melding with it to create a superlative whole. It was one of the finest performances of this work that this listener has ever heard."

La Folia Online Music Review
May 2004

The Music of Elliott Carter, Vol. 5 (Bridge 9128)
"The grandest offfering, Of Challenge and of Love, receives a carefully thought-out interpretation from soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg. This song cycle demands repeated listening to savor Carter's sensitive word painting."

Buffalo News
October 31, 2003

"Soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg are adventurous, fearless and very adept... the presence of violinist Movses Pogossian added to the evening's electricity. Really, the room was alive.

"The accompaniments [to Schoenberg's "The Book of the Hanging Gardens"] are harrowing, but Greenberg played them with confidence and sensitivity. He and Arnold['s] sense of timing was excellent…their teamwork shone in the Messiaen songs…Greenberg tossed off the capricious, dancing piano parts [in "Epouvante"] as if they were nothing."
NOTE: this was one of the Buffalo News's "top ten classical moments of 2003."

Classical Music Web
August 3, 2003

The Music of Elliott Carter, Vol. 5 (Bridge 9128)
"Soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg are vital and powerful interpreters."

Guardian Unlimited
July 18, 2003

The Music of Elliott Carter, Vol. 5 (Bridge 9128)
"In the song cycle Of Challenge and of Love, on the poetry of John Hollander, the soprano Tony Arnold and pianist Jacob Greenberg relish the detail that Carter lavishes on his settings, each one absorbingly articulate and bracingly affirmative."

Jacob Greenberg