The Audiophile Audition wrote of this CD "Keene had the Chopin style thoroughly at her command.....(In the Third Ballade of Chopin) when Keene turns up the velocity, the potent agogics make known their jarring, intensely visceral effect, and we simply concede the brilliant authority of her conception as she rushes the barricades at the coda.....We realize why Keene made an excellent substitute for Vladimir Horowitz on one historic occasion, and the pent-up applause acknowledges it."
A significant figure for many years in the musical life of New York (and, indeed, a life-long resident of the city)
was the pianist, Constance Keene (1921-2005). A glamorous and elegant lady, diminutive but with a very big
personality she was, from 1969 till her death, one of the most prominent members of the piano faculty of the
Manhattan School of Music, as well as a juror at major piano competitions. Outspoken, articulate and brilliant
she was also a more important pianist than has been generally recognized.
Her long career included concerts all over the United States, Europe and, in later years, Asia. She performed
as soloist with orchestras in Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Berlin, and in many other cities. She
made many recordings throughout her career, resulting in a very large and wide-ranging discography, and was
particularly praised by critics for one of her last recording projects, the complete Piano Sonatas of Hummel.
Constance Keene was held in the highest esteem by some of her most distinguished colleagues. About her
recording of the complete Rachmaninoff Preludes Arthur Rubinstein wrote “I cannot imagine anybody, including
Rachmaninoff himself, playing the Preludes more beautifully. I was completely flabbergasted by the fantastic
sweep, color, tone, and, last but not least, the incredible technique.”
Of course, it was with great pleasure that she liked to tell people that when her friend, Vladimir Horowitz, first
heard that recording, and saw what Rubinstein had written, he said “But why didn’t you give it to me first? I would
have happily written that!”
This live recital, which also includes Ms. Keene's comments about some parts of the program, demonstrates her virtuosity, elegance, sense of humor and her impressive temperament.
As pianist, writer and radio personality David Dubal said about her, at a 2003 program at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York dedicated to a summing up of her career “Constance Keene is not just a major pianist or a prominent pianist or a distinguished pianist; she is a GREAT pianist!”