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Alessio Bax tours with Joshua Bell, opens Lincoln Center chamber season, releases Beethoven CD in 2014-15

On October 15, pianist Alessio Bax launches the 2014-15 season of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center as soloist in two Mozart piano concertos at Alice Tully Hall, one of many prominent collaborations with friends old and new around the world. He tours extensively throughout the fall with violinist Joshua Bell in the U.S. and Europe, including stops at L.A.’s Disney Hall (Oct 26) and London’s Wigmore Hall (Nov 21). He also tours the UK with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, performing Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 (Jan 29 –Feb 8). In the spring he reunites with the Southbank Sinfonia, performing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini in London under the baton of legendary pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy (March 25). The ensemble previously collaborated with Bax on his recording of Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 491 and K. 595, released by Signum Classics in 2013. This month marks the addition of Alessio Bax plays Beethoven to his distinguished discography; the new Signum Classics album features two of the master’s greatest sonatas, the “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight,” as well as pair of Bax’s own transcriptions from The Ruins of Athens.

Hailed by International Piano as “a pianist of refreshing depth,” Bax has discovered a natural musical kinship with Joshua Bell, one of the most famous violinists in the world today. The two toured five South American countries last season, winning over audiences and critics alike. The newspaper El País in Montevideo declared: “We dare say this was the best concert of the season; it will be very difficult to surpass the musical quality of these two magnificent musicians. … Alessio Bax was the revelation of the night.[He] deserves to be called ‘The Poet of the Piano’ in the way that Joshua Bell is ‘The Poet of the Violin.’

The coming tour is even more ambitious and occurs in three legs. First Bell and Bax concertize in the U.S. (Oct 24-Nov 8), including stops in the 2,265-seat Disney Hall in Los Angeles (Oct 26), Santa Barbara’s Granada Theatre (Oct 28), Fort Lauderdale’s Broward Center (Nov 1), Houston’s Jones Hall (Nov 5) and the AT&T Center’s Winspear Opera House in Dallas (Nov 6). In November they head to Europe for concerts in Salzburg (Nov 20), London’s Wigmore Hall (Nov 21), and further stops in Stavanger, Gothenburg, Alicante and Madrid (Nov 22-26). Finally they visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, Istanbul and Eindhoven (Dec 12-17). Their repertory reflects their geographic journey and includes Schubert’s Duo in A major, Grieg’s Sonata No. 1 and Prokofiev’s Sonata No 1.

Bax has also developed a close relationship with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and this year he performs four concerts with them, including the opening night. Last year the organization selected Bax for Lincoln Center’s prestigious Martin E. Segal Award. Co-artistic directors Wu Han and David Finckel explained why: “Alessio came to our attention many years ago, and we were captivated from the first notes we heard him play at the keyboard. He is the complete package – a consummate recitalist, a superb soloist, an expert recording artist, and in addition, a stellar chamber musician. … Those of us who know him well, know his warmth and humble nature, making it impossible to have any feelings but those of admiration and thanks that he is a part of our community.” For the CMS season opening concert (Oct 15) Bax plays Mozart’s Concertos K. 414 and K. 449 in special arrangements with string quintet. He returns to Alice Tully Hall April 20 for Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Wu Han, and again May 15 in a concert of Spanish music with up-and-coming American violinist Benjamin Beilman, guitarist Jason Vieaux and the Escher String Quartet. They repeat that program at the Gardner Museum in Boston on May 17 as part of the CMS on Tour series.

Another important musical relationship for Bax is even closer to home: his frequent collaborations in four-hand repertoire with his wife, pianist Lucille Chung. The pair is widely regarded as one of the foremost duos of their generation. Among their concerts this season is a program of Lutoslawski, Debussy, Ravel and Bartók in Dallas at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, where they are visiting faculty members (Oct 5). Gramophone praised their “effortless synchronicity” and “maximum tonal imagination” on their Signum Classic disc, Bax and Chung, which was released last fall, and the UK’s Classical CD Choice said, “Bax and Chung demonstrate an almost supernatural understanding of the demands of the duo repertoire.

In February, Bax tours the UK performing Rachmaninov’s famously passionate Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Alexander Shelley (Feb 1-8). Bax has won plaudits for his interpretations of Rachmaninov, with Pianist magazine declaring, “Here is Rachmaninov playing on the Mercedes level” and Classics Today remarking, “Rachmaninov’s music fits Alessio Bax’s seemingly boundless technique hand in glove, along with his big, luscious, multi-colored sonority and ardent temperament.” He kicks off his tour with the orchestra with a performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, “Emperor” (Jan 29), a work he performs earlier in the season with Finland’s Kuopio Symphony Orchestra under Alberto Hold-Gariddo (Oct 9).

Beethoven is also the subject of Bax’s new CD, Alessio Bax plays Beethoven, released September 9. It includes two of the composer’s best-loved piano works, the “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas, as well as Bax’s own transcription of two pieces from Beethoven’s Ruins of Athens, Op. 113. In the booklet notes for the release, Bax describes what makes the “Hammerklavier” Sonata so special for him: “It is, with no fear of exaggeration, one of the great achievements of humankind. It is Everest for a pianist. I have lived with this work for nearly twenty years now and it has singlehandedly deepened my knowledge of Beethoven, piano technique and music.”

In the New Year Bax performs Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Helsinki Philharmonic, led by Pietro Rizzo (Jan 14-15). He returns to London for the same work with his partners on his 2013 Signum Classics disc Alessio Bax Plays Mozart – the Southbank Sinfonia. That performance of the Rachmaninov is under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy (Mar 25). The young orchestra is a superb match for Bax’s own energy and vision, as reviews of the Mozart disc observed. Minnesota Public Radio noted, “With their combined talents, imaginations and deep collaborative commitment, Alessio Bax, Simon Over and the Southbank Sinfonia pry out some fresh ideas – and new life – in these familiar works by Mozart.”
 
Brahms also makes an appearance in Bax’s 2014-15 season, on consecutive nights in Denmark. He will perform the Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Aalborg Symphony under Rumon Gamba (Nov 28), and the complete violin sonatas with Vesselin Demirev (Nov 29), and he repeats the concerto with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra under Heiichiro Ohyama (Mar 17). “Alessio Bax proves himself here to be an ideal Brahmsian,”stated Fanfare in its review of the album Alessio Bax Plays Brahms. “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.”

In addition to his busy performance schedule, Bax is keen to share his expertise with younger generations. This season he offers numerous masterclasses as he tours, and continues his work as a visiting faculty member at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, where he is scheduled to give a masterclass to six aspiring pianists as part of the Dallas International Piano Competition (March 11). Bax himself benefited from mentors along the way: in 2007 he was filmed performing Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata for Daniel Barenboim for the PBS-TV documentary Barenboim on Beethoven: Masterclass, available as a DVD on the EMI label.
A complete list of Bax’s upcoming engagements follows, and additional information may be found at his web site: alessiobax.com. High-resolution promotional photos may be downloaded here.
 
 
Alessio Bax: 2014-15 engagements

Sep 27
Flint, MI
Flint Symphony Orchestra / Enrique Diemecke
BARTÓK: Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion
With Lucille Chung
(Sep 26: Masterclass)
 
Oct 5
Dallas, TX
SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts
LUTOSLAWSKI: Paganini Variations
DEBUSSY: En blanc et noir
RAVEL: La Valse
BARTÓK: Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
With Lucille Chung, Brian Johns and Doug Howard
 
Oct 9
Kuopio, Finland
Kuopio Symphony Orchestra / Alberto Hold-Gariddo
BEETHOVEN: Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 “Emperor”
 
Oct 15
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Opening Night
MOZART: Concertos K. 414 and K. 449
With Bella Hristova and Arnaud Sussmann, violins; Paul Neubauer, viola; Sophie Shao, cello; Joseph Conyers, double bass
 
Oct 19
Columbus, OH;
Columbus Museum of Art
Signature Series of OSU’s Jefferson Academy of Music
BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
RACHMANINOV: Hopak (from Mussorgsky); Prelude in G major, Op. 32, No. 5; Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition

Oct 24-Nov 8
Joshua Bell tour – United States
SCHUBERT: Duo in A Major
GRIEG: Sonata No. 1
PROKOFIEV: Sonata No 1
Additional repertoire TBA
Oct 24: Santa Rosa Symphony recital (Weill Hall, Sonoma State University)
Oct 25: Modesto, CA (Gallo Center for the Arts)
Oct 26: Los Angeles, CA (Disney Hall)
Oct 28: Santa Barbara, CA (Granada Theatre, UCSB)
Nov 1: Fort Lauderdale, FL (Broward Center)
Nov 5: Houston, TX (Jones Hall, Society for the Performing Arts)
Nov 6: Dallas, TX  (AT&T Performing Arts Center – Winspear Opera House)

Nov 16
Mt. Kisco, NY
4-hands piano concert
With Lucille Chung
 
Nov 20-26: Joshua Bell tour Europe
Nov 20: Salzburg, Austria
Nov 21: London, England (Wigmore Hall)
Nov 22: Stavanger, Norway
Nov 23: Gothenburg, Sweden
Nov 25: Alicante, Spain
Nov 26: Madrid, Spain

Nov 28
Aalborg, Denmark
Aalborg Symphony / Rumon Gamba
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
 
Nov 29
Aalborg, Denmark
Recital with Vesselin Demirev
Brahms complete violin sonatas

Dec 2
Charlottesville, VA
Tuesday Evening Concert Series
BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, Op. 110
RACHMANINOV: Hopak (from Mussorgsky); Prelude in G major, Op. 32, No. 5; Prelude in G minor, Op. 23, No. 5; Liebesleid (from Kreisler); Liebesfreud (from Kreisler)
MUSSORGSKY: Pictures at an Exhibition
 
Dec 12-17
Joshua Bell tour – Europe
Dec 12: St. Petersburg, Russia
Dec 14: Moscow, Russia
Dec 16: Istanbul, Turkey
Dec 17: Eindhoven, Netherlands
 
Jan 5-11
Akita, Japan
Chamber Music Festival
With Heiichiro Ohyama, viola
 
Jan 14-15
Helsinki, Finland
Helsinki Philharmonic / Pietro Rizzo
RACHMANINOV: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
 
Jan 29
Kingston upon Hull, UK
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Alexander Shelley
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 “Emperor”
 
Feb 1-8
UK tour with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / Alexander Shelley
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18
                  Feb 1: Northampton, UK
Feb 3: London, England (Cadogan Hall)
Feb 4: Croydon, South London, England
Feb 8: Southend, England
 
Feb 20
Covington, LA
Louisiana Philharmonic / Teddy Abrams
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G
(Feb 18: Masterclass)
 
Feb 21
New Orleans, LA
Louisiana Philharmonic / Teddy Abrams
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G

March 1
Tallahassee, FL
Peterson Music Hall at Florida State University
BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight”
BRAHMS: Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1
SCRIABIN: Valse
RAVEL: La Valse

March 8
Baltimore, MD
Goucher College
BEETHOVEN: Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2 “Moonlight”
BRAHMS: Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1
SCRIABIN: Valse
RAVEL: La Valse
 
March 11
Dallas, TX
Dallas International Piano Competition
SMU masterclass

March 17
Santa Barbara, CA
Lobero Theatre
Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra / Heiichiro Ohyama
BRAHMS: Piano Concerto No. 1 in D minor
 
March 25
London, UK
Southbank Sinfonia / Vladimir Ashkenazy
Cadogan Hall
RACHMANINOV: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini

March 28
Fort Myers, FL
Southwest Florida Symphony
RACHMANINOV: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18

March 31
Grass Valley, CA
InConcert Sierra
Recital

April 20
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center Spring Gala
Alice Tully Hall
GERSHWIN: Rhapsody in Blue with Wu Han
 
April 26
Washington, DC
National Academy of Sciences
Recital
BEETHOVEN: Piano Sonatas Op. 14/2 “Moonlight”  & Op. 110
BRAHMS: Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, No. 1
SCRIABIN: Valse
RAVEL: La Valse
 
May 2
La Crosse, WI
La Crosse Symphony Orchestra / Alexander Platt
RAVEL: Piano Concerto in G
 
May 15
New York, NY
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Alice Tully Hall
FALLA: Danza del Molinero; ALBÉNIZ/GODOWSKY: Tango; FALLA: Fire Dance (solo piano)
RAVEL: Sonata No. 2 in G major for Violin and Piano with Benjamin Beilman, violin
BOCCHERINI, PAGANINI and KERNIS: works with Jason Vieaux, guitar; Escher String Quartet

May 17
Boston, MA
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
Gardner Museum
FALLA: Danza del Molinero; ALBÉNIZ/GODOWSKY: Tango; FALLA: Fire Dance (solo piano)
RAVEL: Sonata No. 2 in G major for Violin and Piano with Benjamin Beilman, violin
BOCCHERINI, PAGANINI and KERNIS: works with Jason Vieaux, guitar; Escher String Quartet

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