From “Exceptional Debut violinist Puglia with Asko|Schoenberg”
June 19, 2009, NRC Handelsblad, Jochem Valkenburg
The young violinist Joseph Puglia made an exceptional debut. Last year the native New Yorker
graduated from the conservatory in The Hague. He has performed as concertmaster of Asko|Schoenberg
for several international concerts, and was already allowed to play the solo part in Adams’ Violin
Puglia made an impression with a supple, crisp, and when needed deep tone, from a brand new
Gaybaryan violin, built in 2009.
…In the very fast last movement “Toccare”, with a percussive orchestra, Puglia flew as a seasoned
virtuoso, sometimes even looking around to the conductor De Leeuw. It earned him an ovation.
From “Puglia Brings Hall to a Boil in Adams’ Violin Concerto”
June 20, 2009, De Volkskrant, Guido van Oorschot
The young violinist was Joseph Puglia. This American, who studied at the conservatory in The Hague with Vera Beths, brought the Grote Zaal to a boil. Understandable, considering his slender, pliable, and clear tone underneath which the two synthesizers could lay their mysterious mellow sounds.
From “Oboe with a Human Voice”
August 31, 2010, De Volkskrant, Bela Luttmer
The festival was given a worthy end with a performance of last year’s winning composition: the Violin concerto by Robin de Raaff, played by a driven Brabants Orkest with violinist Joseph Puglia as advocate for the fine timbres in the music of De Raaff.
From Bachtrack.com: “International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove: New Talents in Cornwall”
Lucy Armstrong – 16 April 2012
Bringing with them the exuberance of youthful passion and prodigious energy, the students of the
International Musicians Seminar Prussia Cove in Cornwall transformed a starkly unaccommodating town hall into one which thrilled to the talents of classical music’s heirs. Performing a varied programme which was the culmination of six weeks’ vigorous study off the coast of Cornwall, ten rising artists broke the ice with the conviction that classical music is about unleashing the most intimate divinations of the soul and binding oneself religiously to its cause, while sharing the pleasure of great art. It wasn’t until J.S. Bach’s Chaconne from the Violin Partita in D minor was carried on the bow of Joseph Puglia that I felt myself breathe freely and easily, finally able to relax in the spaces between the sounds that Puglia’s violin of many voices exposed. Diverting his pianissimos from soaring fortes, Puglia flowed from architectural passage to passage, segueing into each musical section with a seamlessness which demonstrated a matured sense of musicianship and a tone which balanced the smooth with the raw.
Defining each note of an ambitious run at fast tempo with Baroque pristineness is hefty work, but the soloist executed this with a delectable combination of Bach-like clarity and Vivaldi-esque fire.
From “Lachenmann High Point November Music”
November 9, 2015, NRC Handelsblad, Joep Stapel
The most extreme piece from this edition was the new work, still without title, that Jan van de Putte composed for violinist Joseph Puglia and electronics. Simple glissandi grew from one tone on the violin into an electronic transformation and ghastly pandemonium which resembled the dagger-thrusting strings in “Psycho”.
Thankfully was there a recovery for all listeners in the form of the modern classic “Graal Theatre” by
Kaija Saariaho, performed with Asko|Schoenberg and Reinbert de Leeuw. Puglia shone again as soloist in this delightful violin concerto, where it is true many details were lost in the echoes of the hall, but the indestructible beauty came through without difficulty.
From “Roukens’ Violin Concerto is Fiery” March 18, 2016, NRC Handelsblad, Merlijn Kerkhof
Roukens has success: he is becoming one of the most sought-after Dutch composers. He is artist in
residence with the Netherlands Philharmonic this year, and last Thursday his new violin concerto “Roads to Everywhere”, written for Joseph Puglia and Asko|Schoenberg, was performed in the Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ. It could not have been written by anyone else. Sections flow over each other organically and in a dance-like manner. In the first movement there is a line which makes one think of a metal-riff, rough and with accented triplets. But there is also much sentimentality: Roukens plays with kitch-elements, and uses these in the last movement through a filter – what remains is pure beauty. Puglia played it with fire and to great effect.
From “NJO Symphony shakes the foundations of a former radio station”
August 9, 2015, Thea Derks, blog
Soloist in Anders Hillborg’s Violin Concerto was Joe Puglia (New York, 1984), also known as the
concertmaster of Asko|Schönberg. He played the fast-paced and often incredibly difficult solo part with abandon and superior control. His smooth, warm tone sounded clear even in the furthest flageolets. The many glissandi were remarkable, from the soloist and the orchestra, with the use of quarter tones creating a sometimes ghostly atmosphere.
From “Panorama de Leeuw”
Thea Derks, 30 January, 2015, blog
That same evening the Philharmonie Zuidnederland played in “De Vrijdag van Vredenburg” series a
concert with, among others, “Omaggio a Gesualdo”, by Jan van Vlijmen…
…Special attendees were van Vlijmen’s daughter Esther, and his sister Annelies. They were moved and thanked the violinist Joe Puglia from the bottom of their hearts because he played the work of their relative with so much devotion and finesse.
From “De Leeuw, New World explore the dark side in contemporary program”
April 16, 2017, David Fleisher, South Florida Classical Review
The concert opened with a violin concerto by the renowned Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho. Entitled Graal Théâtre (Grail Theater), the concerto was inspired partly by poems about the Chivalric search for the Holy Grail.
Although for this work, Saariaho eschewed the electronics that she often employs, she still drew unusual and spacey sounds from the chamber-sized orchestra. For all the modernity of its musical language, however, there’s a hint of the 19th century in the concerto’s use of the violin as heroic protagonist in what turned out to be an absorbing musical drama.
The solo violin, played by the American-born contemporary music specialist Joseph Puglia, goes on a journey across a bleak and menacing orchestral landscape. With an amazing economy of forces, Saarriaho creates a darkly luminous atmosphere, often using just a few notes of harp, xylophone, wind instruments or timpani.
Puglia plunged with gusto into the demanding, complex solo part. He played in the rough, aggressive manner that much of the music demanded. Yet the soloist also brought a ghostly tone to eerie procession of high notes. Puglia achieved a huge tone as his bow swept across the strings in rapid arpeggios, drawing enough power to stand up to the massed forces of the orchestra.
The concerto was almost non-stop turbulence, with the orchestral tone turning more dire and threatening in the second and final movement. But at the very end, it achieves a sort of peace, as Puglia played glassy high notes and arpeggios and fades out.
From www.opusklassiek.nl, CD review “Ladder of Escape 14”
By Siebe Riedstra
…Here is therefore number 14 – entirely devoted to one composer: Luciano Berio.
The Italian/Amsterdam based violinist Joseph Puglia enters the ladder in company of 41 other curious climbers, through the notes of the 34 duets for two violins.
…Puglia gave himself the immense work of performing each duet with a different partner. In the booklet they are all named, including their ages, varying from 7-69. Well-known names such as Marc Destrube, Gordan Nikolic and Vera Beths alternate with Sebatian (8 years old), who gets to play a D major scale (duet #17). The aforementioned 41 climbers for the 34 duets comes because of duet number 20, that is written for two groups of five. It is – on the wish of the composer – played at the end.
In the Due Pezzi from 1976 we hear the influence of Berio’s teacher Luigi Dallapiccola – a man that
followed Schoenberg but never forgot that he came from the land of Verdi. The fourteen Sequenzas that Berio composed for all solo instruments seem to be made specifically for this CD series, number 8 for violin solo must then not be left out. Berio took some Sequenzas as a “work in progress” and built full-bodied concert pieces from them. In this case the result is the “Corale su Sequenza VIII, per violino, due corni e archi”.
Joseph Puglia has made himself known on stages in Amsterdam and far abroad as an advocate for new music – and in that way he plays gorgeously. Special mention is deserved by both hornists from the Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht, Jan Harshagen and Mees Vos, Guido Tichelman is responsible for the spectacular recording of the Corale, which leaves the old master himself (at the time at RCA) far behind him.
A spectacular Escape!!
From Luister magazine – Berio CD review – rating 10/10
Joseph Puglia’s substantial advocacy for this repertoire comes from deep within. Above all he has
thought of a very original concept for the magnificent cycle of 34 duets for two violins, where Berio has made portraits of many fellow-composers and musicians: from Bartok to Pousseur, Kagel, Boulez, Stravinsky, and Maazel. Puglia plays them with 34 different soloists, from 7 to 69 years old. The seven year old Kiana Carroll kicks off the set in the 49 second duet dedicated to Bartok. At first glance it might seem like a gimmick, but it is not. The problem with this cycle of duets lies precisely in the fact that it is very difficult to approach them as portraits if you play all 34 in a row. By playing each duet with someone who is solely focused on that piece there develops an enormous depth, a touching level of concentration that gives the pieces their full weight. The “Due Pezzi per violine e pianoforte” of about six and half minutes holds up to that high standard. Puglia can then let loose in the “Sequenza VIII” for solo violin. That was already more than enough to rate this disc a big fat 10, but Attacca gives us an extra fifteen minutes in the form of “Corale su Sequenza” with the Nieuwe Philharmonie Utrecht, conducted by Johannes Leertouwer. Dizzyingly good.
From “Joseph Puglia Dazzles in Music of Luciano Berio” – CD review
Cultureel Pers Bureau, July 2016, Thea Derks
The American-Dutch violinist Joseph Puglia is a heartfelt advocate of contemporary music. Last year he took a good chance with his interpretation of the violin concerto of Anders Hillborg, together with the young musicians of the NJO Symphony Orchestra. He is the first violinist of Asko|Schoenberg, where he gave the world premiere earlier this year of the violin concerto Roads to Everywhere by Joey Roukens, written specially for him.
The Australian-Dutch composer Kate More also wrote a concerto for him and this ensemble,
“Synaesthesia Suite”. Now Puglia presents his first CD with the Attacca label, that is number 14 in their series-beyond-praise, “Ladder of Escape”.
Puglia’s first ever CD is dedicated to music by Italian modernist Luciano Berio. He opens with the
demanding Duetti for due violini, a series of miniatures dedicated to friends and composers whom Berio admired. Each piece tells its own story and uses other techniques, so the thirty-four portraits also have an educational function. They are intended to be performed by a combination of professionals and young musicians – for example by a teacher and his students.
In some duets the difficulty per player is quite different. In number # 17, ‘Leonardo Pinzauti’, one player only plays a scale while the other weaves gracefully tiered lines. Puglia performs with his eight-year-old pupil Sebastian Cynn, whose emotional sawing gives the music a disarming fragility. Puglia’s oldest partner is Vera Beths, with whom he performs # 6, named after Berio’s colleague Bruno Maderna. Berio treats his joysome personality with playful music, which sometimes tends to be a grounded waltz. The most beautiful one might be number # 20, ‘Edoardo Sanguineti’, which concludes the cycle. The two parts are played at Berio’s request by an orchestra of violins, in this version consisting of gifted students from the NJO Summer Academy and from Puglia’s colleagues including Peter Brunt and Emmy Storms.
One sometimes thinks to have landed in Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons”, but the swift patters soon make way for more introverted lines, sometimes played with mute. Audibly Fun Playing
Whoever carries a Berio CD cannot escape his famous Sequenzas, solo pieces in which Berio explores the possibilities of the instrument. During the last Holland Festival, French bassist Pascal Gallois made a great impression with the Sequenza XII specially composed for him.
Puglia performs Sequenza VIII, which Berio composed in 1976 for the violinist Carlo Chiarappa. This is based on two tones (A and B), which form the basis for an immersive exploration of the instrument.
From sweet cantilenas to wild evisceration, and from whispered flageolets to tortuous, semmingly multi-lingual walks and periodic decorations. Puglia plays smooth and effortlessly, with an impressive sophisticated dynamic, and audible fun.
The two other pieces on the CD are also very worthwhile. The pianist Ellen Corver shows herself an
influential partner in the Due Pezzi for violin and pianoforte, with an admirable velvety attack. The New Utrecht Philharmonic makes the passionate, sometimes almost frightening Corale su Sequenza VIII together with Puglia an energetic listening experience.
Joseph Puglia makes a very convincing calling card with this CD. He proves once again that “modern” music is not a priori dry and unapproachable, but can also be fiery and emotional. Highly recommended!
Nieuwe Noten – Luciano Berio CD review
May 24, 2017, Ben Taffijn
Since he has moved to The Netherlands, violinist Joseph Puglia has been making a steady advance. We see him more and more on stage. Last year he was a regular gest during “Dag in de Branding”, and as concertmaster of Asko|Schoenber is he also regularly to be admired. In the meantime he has also made a CD, number 14 in Attacca’s series “Ladder of Escape”, and totally devoted to the violin music of Luciano Berio.
Puglia says that 10 years ago Berio opened the door for him to contemporary music. And he describes his first contact very well: “When I first listened to Berio I thought: I have no idea what’s going on, but I definitely want o hear that again! The strange colours, harmonies and lyricism in his music drew me deeper into the world of 20th century compositions, which I now consider an integral part of my musical life.”
The biggest part of the CD is taken up by the 34 “Duetti per due Violini”, an exceptional collection of very short pieces, musical portraits of friends and colleagues. But these pieces also have another quality that makes them special, and that led to a special live performance last March. Berio decided that the pieces should be performed by experienced and inexperienced musicians together, for instance by a teacher and pupil, putting them on equal footing regardless of age. We therefore hear Puglia in these pieces together with, among others, colleague Heleen Hulst (#14), with the seven year old Kiana Carroll (#1), and with Laurie Smukler (#9) with whom Puglia studied. Interestingly, he says about the last piece “At our first rehearsal we discovered that we had completely opposite ideas about the duet’s musical meaning. Upon meeting again a few months later I had re-thought my interpretation of the work and agreed fully with Laurie’s ideas. When I told her that I thoguht we should play it her way, she said that her views had also changed because of my ideas. In the end we ended up with yet another (hopefully even better) interpretation.”
Berio wrote 14 “Sequenzas” between 1958 and 2002, an extensive series of pieces for solo instruments.
The eighth is for solo violin. A piece, moreover, that Berio reworked for violin and orchestra under the title “Corale su Sequenza VIII, per violine, due corni e archi” and that is here performed by Puglia, together with the New Utrecht Philharmonic, under the direction of Johannes Leertouwer. The “Sequenza VIII”, from 1976, is one of the most beautiful in the violin literature, but is an incredibly difficult piece.
However, Puglia’s love for Berio takes care for this, and what is actually true for the entire album, is that the piece gets a performance bordering on perfection.
De Volkskrant – Frits van der Waa – CD review – Luciano Berio: Music for Violin
One CD, 42 violinists. Foremost Joseph Puglia, that for the 34 “Duetti per due violini” invited an entire contingent of colleagues, from age 7 to 69. A really nice idea, that naturally comes from the composer himself. The Duetti are distinctly playful and accessible, sometimes very simple, sometimes ragingly virtuosic. Throughout you can hear that Puglia has a great affinity for Berio. “Due Pezzi”, an early work, and the fascinating “Sequenza VIII”, followed by an extended version with orchestra make this delivery of the Ladder of Escape series from Attacca complete.
From VPRO Vrije Geluiden CD review “Ladder of Escape – Music for Violin by Luciano Berio (Attacca) – Joseph Puglia, violin”
April 13, 2016 Remarkable new releases
I don’t know how many friends Joseph Puglia has, but in any case it is at least 41. And they all play
violin. Some are 7 years old, others 67, and still others are Vera Beths or Gordan Nikolic. They help
Joseph in performances of the violin duets of Luciano Berio, written between 1979 and 1982. They are minature odes to friends and exemplaars of Berio. Dedicated to Kagel, Maderna, Bartok and Maazel, just to name a few. The duets on this CD are performed well and with love, and are wonderful to listen to.
You can hear the pleasure of the violinists. The venom in this CD lies at the end, when Puglia is suddenly let loose on the Sequenza VIII for solo violin. He whistles, creaks, squeaks and crunches through the Sequenza which is also a kind of ode. It reflects Berio’s humble fulfillment of the “personal guilt” that he had with the violin, as well as a tribute to Bach’s solo Partita in D minor. Gosh darn, though, nicely done.
From “ Un final d’une eblouissante sensibilite!” – July 30, 2014
Il y eut l’un des plus beaux Trios, celui de Ligeti, cor, violon et piano, une oeuvre remarquable,
intense et interpretée d’une main de maître. Ce fut un petit bijou musical, joué avec force et complicité. Coincé entre le piano et le cor, le violon rugissait pour ce faire entendre, d’une belle énérgie deployée, chère à Ligeti. La sonorité de ce trio a été superbe. » (Le petit journal)
From “Sublime” – Le Petit Journal – July 28, 2014
Mais le “Trio a cordes en sol majeur” du jeune Beethoven a ete l’oeuvre qui a revele la
remarquable virtuosite de ses interpretes. Le dernier mouvement en particulier, execute presto, a vu les trois instruments violin, alto et violoncelle se poursuivre, se repondre et rencherir l’un sur l’autre jusqu’au point final ou les jeunes musiciens ont salue devani un assistance debout pour les applaudir.
Leur interpretation du “trio a cordes” de Beethoven leur vaudra une ovation.
Le festival de musique de chambre 2014 “Musique a Marsac” se poursuit toujours avec
panache et sublime qualite.
Pour finir, Trio a cordes de Beethoven avec Joe Puglia – violon, Tom Hankey – violon/alto et
Ariana Kashefi au violoncelle. Un sublime concert une nouvelle fois nous faisant decouvrir des
interpretations enthousiasmantes et de tres haut niveau. Comme habituellement, ces jeunes musiciens usent d’une technique instrumentale impressionnante jamais gratuite mais totalement consacree a servir les oeuvres.
From “Une ouverture du festival de musique: fortissimi!”
Le Petit Journal, July 26, 2014
Le fait marquant de cette premiere soiree musicale fut cependant la brillante interpretation de la
Sonate en canon #4 en re mineur de Telemann….Des musiciens epoustouflants, entre puissance et
L’interpretation a subjugue l’auditoire: concentration extreme, contrastes sonores saisissants,
avec une palette sonore d’une etendue considerable. Pari tenu pour cette ouverture de festival de
musique de chambre: Toujours sublime! Un veritable regal pour les oreilles!