January 13, 2020

Clearly among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone), Alessio Bax releases Italian Inspirations, his eleventh recording for Signum Classics, on February 7. A native of Bari, Italy, Bax expands his critically acclaimed discography with a creatively curated solo recital program themed to his homeland, combining J.S. Bach’s arrangement of an Alessandro Marcello oboe concerto, Rachmaninov’s Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Liszt’s Italian-inspired St. François d’Assise: La prédication aux oiseaux and Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata, and Dallapiccola’s Quaderno musicale di Annalibera, a playful yet tender twelve-tone composition dedicated to the composer’s eight-year-old daughter, modeled after the Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach.

Bax explains:

“As an Italian pianist, I have to be very creative when trying to come up with an Italian program. There is almost a total dearth of Romantic piano music, most likely because of the prominence of opera during that period. It’s as if Italian composers only became seriously interested in the piano in the 20th century!

   “However, Italy has always had great music, and the starting point is that each of these pieces relates to Italy somehow. But what is really explored in depth are the much more subtle and meaningful similarities between the pieces. The most recent composer, Dallapiccola, was inspired by Bach, at the other chronological extreme of the program. The Liszt St. Francis and Dallapiccola have strange similarities in subtle gestures and even silences. There are Baroque connections between the Marcello and Rachmaninov, which also share a tonality. The Rachmaninov – his last work for solo piano, and one which I have lived with on and off and loved deeply for over 25 years – and the Dallapiccola are both very eloquent, introspective and personal sets of variations. The Dallapiccola, which is a rare jewel on its own, functions as a kind of “filter” for the rest of the program. Finally, the Dante sonata sums up all that is essential for humankind, the breadth of emotions, life experiences and reflection that are in all of us and in every work on this program.”

When the pianist performed the same program on his extensive antipodean tour last season, Australia’s ArtsHub reported:

“Bax has an unusually wide command of style, with rhetoric as clear in the Bach as it was in the Dallapiccola. … Requiring tour de force virtuosity, thunderous weight and grandeur along with gossamer fragility, this proved to be a memorable recital.”

He reprised the program at Buenos Aires’s fabled Teatro Colón last summer, when Argentinean outlet Clarin reported:

“A master pianist … the Italian musician dazzled at the Colón with an outstanding program … very broad as well as generous. … If in the transcription of Bach his interpretation had a hypnotic effect, in the Rachmaninoff Variations the piano went through the most changing landscapes and colors, besides authentic passages of bravura and virtuosity … [and] an exquisite dynamic gradation. … [Dallapiccola’s piece] is one of the great jewels of twelve-tone literature and all the pianistic literature of the 20th century. … Bax’s interpretation could not be more subtle or nuanced. At the end he played Liszt’s two pieces almost without pause; … the execution was magisterial.”

Likewise, Argentina’s La Nación declared that Bax’s presentation had “strengths on all fronts: the choice of the repertoire, its arrangement and its realization.” A second La Nación review for his other Teatro Colón performance affirmed:

“The program … was armed with an extraordinary intelligence, sensitivity and a deep touch to lead the audience beyond the conventional limits. … It was as if one had never heard that transcription of Bach and just discovered it. As for Rachmaninov: what can be said about the sublime sonorities Bax achieved in those variations! His touch is simply wonderful. Each note has a meaning and it is impossible to ignore it.”

Other upcoming highlights of Bax’s winter and spring include two concerts marking the 250th anniversary celebrations of Beethoven’s birth: a debut with the Santa Barbara Symphony, where he performs the Fourth Concerto and Choral Fantasy, and a debut with the Milwaukee Symphony, where he plays theEmperor” Concerto. The versatile pianist also revisits two other great staples of the orchestral literature, playing Grieg’s Concerto with New Mexico’s Las Cruces Symphony, and Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with Iowa’s Des Moines Symphony. To complete his winter/spring orchestral lineup, Bax joins frequent piano partner Lucille Chung for double concertos by Mozart and Schnittke under Andrew Constantine’s leadership at both Pennsylvania’s Reading Symphony and Indiana’s Fort Wayne Philharmonic.

Bax’s consummate artistry as a chamber musician is also in evidence in the coming months, when he undertakes Beethoven’s complete sonatas for cello and piano with the Emerson String Quartet’s Paul Watkins at Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; gives numerous duo recitals and chamber music performances with Lucille Chung; and embarks on U.S. and European recital tours with superstar violinist Joshua Bell, including stops at London’s Wigmore Hall, the Vienna Konzerthaus, and Los Angeles’s Disney Hall.

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Alessio Bax: Italian Inspirations
Album Release Date: February 7
Bach: Concerto in D minor after Alessandro Marcello, BWV 974
Rachmaninov: Variations on a Theme of Corelli, Op. 42
Dallapiccola: Quaderno musicale di Annalibera
Liszt: St. François d’Assise: La predication aux oiseaux, S. 175, No. 1
Liszt: Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi sonata, S. 161, No. 7

 

Alessio Bax: Winter and spring engagements 2020

Jan 4
Santa Barbara, CA
Lobero Theatre Chamber Music Festival
Duo recital with Benjamin Beilman, violin
BACH: Violin Sonata No. 4 in C minor, BWV 1017
BUSONI: Violin Sonata No. 2
GRIEG: Violin Sonata No. 3

Jan 10–12
Californian duo recital tour with Lucille Chung, piano
SCHUBERT: Fantasy in F minor for piano four-hands
DEBUSSY: Petite Suite
STRAVINSKY: Pétrouchka
PIAZZOLLA (arr. BAX/CHUNG): Milonga del Angel
PIAZZOLLA (arr. BAX/CHUNG): Libertango
   Jan 10: Santa Cruz, CA
Jan 11: San Jose, CA (Steinway Society)
Jan 12: San Diego, CA (Salk Institute) 

Jan 19
Los Angeles, CA
Broad Stage
Chamber concert with Robert Davidovici, violin; Lucille Chung, piano
SCHUBERT: Fantasy in F minor for piano four-hands
ENESCU: Sonata No. 3 for violin and piano
PIAZZOLLA (arr. BAX/CHUNG): Tangos

Jan 25
Reading, PA
Reading Symphony Orchestra (debut) / André Raphel
MOZART: Concerto for Two Pianos (with Lucille Chung, piano)
SCHNITTKE: Concerto for Piano Four Hands and Orchestra (with Lucille Chung, piano)

Jan 28–Feb 1
U.S. recitals with Joshua Bell, violin
SCHUBERT: Rondo brillant in B minor, D. 895
FRANCK: Sonata in A for Violin and Piano
BACH: Violin Sonata No. 4 in C minor, BWV 1017
BLOCH: Baal Shem
   Jan 28: Fort Collins, CO (The Lincoln Center)
Jan 29: Beaver Creek, CO (Vilar Performing Arts Center)
Jan 31: Hartford, CT (The Bushnell)
Feb 1: Poughkeepsie, NY (Bardavon 1869 Opera House)

Feb 6
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (Rose Studio, live broadcast)
Duo recital with Paul Watkins, cello
BEETHOVEN: Complete Sonatas for Cello and Piano

Feb 23
Richmond, V
Duo recital with Paul Watkins, cello
BEETHOVEN: 12 Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s The Magic Flute
BEETHOVEN: Sonata for piano and cello in C, Op. 102, No. 1
RACHMANINOV: Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op. 19

March 4
New Haven, CT
Yale Piano Series
Duo recital with Lucille Chung, piano
LUTOSŁAWSKI: Variations on a Theme of Paganini for two pianos
STRAVINSKY: Pétrouchka
DEBUSSY, transc. RAVEL: Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune for piano four-hands
POULENC: Concerto in D minor for Two Pianos (original version without orchestra)

March 8
Indianapolis, IN
Indiana Landmarks Center
American Pianists Association
Italian Inspirations recital 

March 14 & 15
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center concerts
BARTÓK: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion (with Lucille Chung, piano; Ayano Kataoka and Ian Rosenbaum, percussion)
March 14: Purchase, NY
March 15: New York, NY

April 4
Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Philharmonic / Andrew Constantine
MOZART: Concerto for Two Pianos (with Lucille Chung, piano)
SCHNITTKE: Concerto for Piano Four Hands and Orchestra (with Lucille Chung, piano)

April 23-24
European duo recitals with Joshua Bell, violin
SCHUBERT: Rondo brillant in B minor, D. 895
FRANCK: Sonata in A for Violin and Piano
BACH: Violin Sonata No. 4 in C minor, BWV 1017
BLOCH: Baal Shem
   April 23: London, England (Wigmore Hall)
April 24: Vienna, Austria (Konzerthaus)

April 26
Waterford, VA
Italian Inspirations recital

May 3
Las Cruces, NM
Las Cruces Symphony (debut) / Lonnie Klein
GRIEG: Piano Concerto

May 9 & 10
Des Moines, IA
Des Moines Symphony (debut) / Joseph Giunta
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1

May 16 & 17
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara Symphony Orchestra (debut) / Nir Kabaretti
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 4
BEETHOVEN: “Choral Fantasy”

June 5 & 6
Milwaukee, WI
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (debut) / Han-Na Chang
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor”

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© 21C Media Group, January 2020