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Alessio Bax releases Mozart concertos album Feb 28

Pianist Alessio Bax, who has explored solo piano repertoire of Bach, Brahms, and Rachmaninov on a series of highly-praised recordings, now adds a pair of Mozart piano concertos – K. 491 and K. 595 – to his distinguished discography. Alessio Bax plays Mozart, recorded with London’s Southbank Sinfonia under the direction of Simon Over, is due for release on February 28 from the UK-based label Signum Classics. The Leeds competition winner has included on the release Mozart’s rarely performed – or recorded – Eight Solo Variations on Sarti’s “Come un agnello,” K. 460 (Mozart would quote Sarti’s theme once again in his opera Don Giovanni).  Bax describes the work as “an incredible showcase of Mozart’s creativity,” variations that “push the piano’s technical boundaries to new heights.” Bax’s performance of a second set of variations – on a theme from Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet – is available for download on iTunes.
New Mozart concertos album
As the pianist recalls in an illuminating liner note accompanying Alessio Bax plays Mozart, “Mozart’s piano concerti were the reason I fell in love with the piano.” Mozart’s dark and masterful C-minor concerto (No. 24, K. 491) has figured prominently in his recent programming, impressing journals like the Herald Tribune, which admired the “truly collaborative performance by the orchestra and the gifted Italian pianist, Alessio Bax,” adding that “the result was deeply satisfying.” On this first orchestral recording for Signum Classics, Bax juxtaposes this work – featuring his own cadenza – with Mozart’s B-flat major concerto (No. 27, K. 595). He explains:
“I thought these two contrasting concerti would make a perfect pairing for a disc. K. 595, with its pure melodies and revealing textures, seems to be set in heaven, while K. 491 has its feet firmly on earth, describing humankind with all our ups and downs.”
Supporting him on the new album is the Southbank Sinfonia – “a dashing ensemble who play with exhilarating fizz, exactness, and stamina” (The Times, UK) – led by Simon Over, who has served as the ensemble’s director since its formation. Britain’s young professional orchestra celebrated its tenth anniversary season last year by making this recording with Bax. Naming them as his “first choice for this disc,” the pianist adds: “These are highly accomplished players, and the group has the flexibility, curiosity, energy, and fearlessness to bring this music to life.”
Mozart in concert
Bax performed the C-minor Concerto, K. 491 for his third appearance of the year with Russia’s legendary St. Petersburg Philharmonic under music director Yuri Temirkanov this past December. In addition, he has played the concerto this season with Oregon’s Eugene Symphony and with ProMusica in Columbus, Ohio, where he also conducted from the keyboard. Upcoming performances of K. 491 include California’s Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (May 14) and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Hans Graf (fall 2013).
Rave reviews for solo Brahms CD
Alessio Bax plays Mozart is the pianist’s second CD release of the 2012-13 season; Signum Classics issued Alessio Bax plays Brahms in October. Among the enthusiastic critical responses to date, Dallas Morning News voted that album one of the “Top Five CDs of 2012;” Musical Toronto named it a “Favorite International Album of 2012;” the Cleveland Plain Dealer granted it an A-grade; while Audiophile Audition and the Irish Times both awarded it a full four stars. MusicWeb Internationalrelished this recital program by Alessio Bax from start to finish.” Classics Today noted that “the challenges of Brahms’ piano works suit Alessio Bax’s big technique, multi-colored sonority, and innate musicality” and the UK’s Daily Mail hailed it as “a connoisseur’s choice.” Fanfare magazine observed:
“Alessio Bax proves himself here to be an ideal Brahmsian. … Gilels, Michelangeli, Gould, and Rubinstein, among others, each recorded distinguished versions [of the four ballades], but Bax’s performance brings out the jagged rhyme schemes of their phrase structure with even greater eloquence than his predecessors. … Signum’s sound ideally showcases Bax’s huge dynamic range. When I want to listen to any of these pieces, this truly notable disc will now be my first choice. I urge you to hear it.”
Alessio Bax plays Brahms is “a must-listen for any fan of late-Romantic piano music,” agreed Musical Toronto, before concluding: “This is one of the great solo-piano albums of 2012. It’s as simple as that.
Welsh recording sessions with Lucille Chung
Meanwhile, in late February Bax heads to Wales to record his next Signum Classics title: a piano four-hands disc with his wife and frequent collaborator, pianist Lucille Chung. Their repertoire will encompass Brahms waltzes, Op. 39; Piazzolla tangos; and Stravinsky’s original four-hands version of his ballet Petrushka. In their international tours, Bax and Chung have performed Petrushka from Siberia to Guatemala, including a January concert at New York Public Radio’s The Greene Space. As the UK’s Music and Arts magazine observes: “Theirs is a marriage of wondrous colors and dexterous aplomb, subtly balanced to make a musical performance sound as one.
Accolades for Alessio Bax recordings
Alessio Bax plays Brahms (Signum Classics, Oct 2012)
“A must-listen for any fan of late-Romantic piano music. This is one of the great solo-piano albums of 2012. It’s as simple as that.” – Musical Toronto
Rachmaninov: Preludes & Melodies (American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice” – Signum Classics, 2011)
“This is one of the most intelligent and engrossing Rachmaninov recitals of recent years … a highly rewarding release.” – Classic FM Magazine
Bach Transcribed (Signum Classics, 2009)
“An unmissable disc of transcriptions … a level of technical control that gives new meaning to the word ‘awesome’ … Signum’s roomy, lifelike sound perfectly complements Bax’s extraordinary pianism. A disc no ‘hyphenated Bach’ fan should miss.” – Gramophone
Baroque Reflections (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice” – Warner Classics, 2004)
“Bax’s tone control makes for a comfortable and ravishing listening experience. …Here is a disc to treasure.”  – American Record Guide (“Critics’ Choice”)
A complete list of the pianist’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his web site:
Alessio Bax: upcoming spring engagements
March 2, 4, & 5: Dallas, TX
Southern Methodist University
“Folk Tales” SMU Project
With Lucille Chung, Chee-Yun, Matt Albert, Andres Diaz, Paul Garner, Virginia Dupuy, and Barbara Sudweeks
March 14: New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Rose Studio
Enescu: Violin Sonata No. 3
With Yura Lee
March 18: New York, NY
Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall (debut)
Beethoven: Sonata for cello and piano in A major, Op. 69, No. 3
Shostakovich: Sonata for cello and piano in D minor, Op. 40
Rachmaninov: Sonata for cello and piano in G minor, Op. 19
With Sol Gabetta
March 25: Kuwait City
Duo recital
With Lucille Chung
April 5-7: San Diego, CA
Mainly Mozart
Quintet Concert with Arnaud Sussman, Steve Copes, Efe Baltacigil, and Richard O’Neill
April 12: Aurora, ON
Duo recital
With Lucille Chung
April 13: Cornwall, ON
Duo recital
With Lucille Chung
April 14: Lakefield, ON
Duo recital
With Lucille Chung
April 27: Long Beach, CA
Long Beach Symphony / Enrique Diemecke
Ravel: Concerto in G
April 30: Boston, MA
Boston Conservatory Piano Masters Series, Seully Hall
May 1: Boston, MA
Boston Conservatory
Master class
May 2: Cincinnati, OH
Matinee Musicale
With Lucille Chung
May 4: Minneapolis, MN
University of Minnesota
Master class
May 5: St. Paul, MN
Frederic Chopin Society
Solo recital and duo with Lucille Chung
May 6: Minneapolis, MN
Studio taping for APM’s Performance Today
With Lucille Chung
May 10: Bellingham, WA          
May 14: Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra / Heiichiro Ohyama
Mozart: Piano Concerto, K. 491
May 17: New York, NY
New York Concert Artists Orchestra / Ken-David Masur
Barber: Piano Concerto
May 31-June 1: Muskegon, MI
West Michigan Symphony / Scott Speck
Brahms: Piano Concerto No. 2


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