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Alessio Bax’s Spring Includes MacDowell Concerto in Vancouver, Tchaikovsky in Madrid, Wigmore Hall Solo Debut, Asian Tour with Daishin Kashimoto

Italian pianist Alessio Bax – whose “virtuosity is effortless, lyrical and never hard-driven” and who “makes light of every devilish demand” (Gramophone) – plays a neglected yet quintessentially American work this spring with the Vancouver Symphony under Bramwell Tovey: Edward MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto. In Madrid he performs Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto with the National Orchestra of Spain led by Miguel Harth-Bedoya, and together with pianist Orion Weiss performs a concert with the Symphony Silicon Valley that includes Mozart’s playful Concerto for Two Pianos. After recently concluding an extensive U.S. tour with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Bax joins them for two additional concerts, in Copenhagen and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The latter concert marks one of three appearances for the pianist at the high-profile venue this season; he makes his recital debut there in April, and returns in July to play a recital with Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto, following a ten-concert tour together in Taiwan and Japan. That same month, Bax launches a new three-year appointment as Artistic Director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena festival.

Edward MacDowell’s Second Piano Concerto is an eclectic, often overlooked work with a distinctively American character that Bax likens, as a great but unjustly neglected American work, to Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto. In 2013 the pianist gave five performances of the Barber: twice at Chicago’s Grant Park and three times with the Dallas Symphony led by Jaap Van Zweden. As Bachtrack commented after one of the Dallas performances: “From the start of the Barber concerto, Mr. Bax embraced the brutal, unapologetic side of this work … the finale was a thrill ride at the outer limit of control.” MacDowell, likewise a unique American compositional voice, was championed in his day and influenced by Franz Liszt, but his reputation suffered in the latter part of the twentieth century and has only been revived in recent years by a new generation of interpreters. Bax will give two accounts of the work in Vancouver, with the Vancouver Symphony under the baton of Grammy Award-winning conductor Bramwell Tovey.

With the National Orchestra of Spain Bax plays Tchaikovsky’s First Concerto, led by longtime collaborator Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who conducted the pianist in Mozart last December with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra. The two also performed the Tchaikovsky recently with the Fort Worth Symphony, of which Harth-Bedoya is the Music Director, when Bax stepped in as an eleventh-hour replacement. As Theater Jones reported:

“The result … was an incendiary and inspired throw-caution-to-the-winds performance, … the likes of which we may never hear again.”

This spring, Bax also collaborates with Orion Weiss, another young pianist who has built a reputation both as a chamber musician and as an orchestral soloist. The two team up with the Symphony Silicon Valley and conductor Constantine Kitsopoulos for Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, a work thought to have been written for the composer to play with his sister Maria Anna (“Nannerl”), in which the soloists have a musical dialogue as equal partners. Also on the program is Saint-Saëns’s two-piano Carnival of the Animals. With Virginia’s Williamsburg Symphony Bax performs Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, which serves as the centerpiece of his forthcoming Signum Classics release, an all-Beethoven album that he looks forward to recording with London’s Southbank Sinfonia in April. Rounding out Bax’s orchestral engagements this spring is an account of the Schumann Concerto with the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Heiichiro Ohyama.

Clearly among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone), Bax makes his long-awaited solo recital debut at London’s Wigmore Hall in April as part of the BBC Monday Lunchtime Concerts series, playing Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, Ravel’s notoriously virtuosic solo piano version of La Valse, and Scriabin’s Third Sonata. The last piece is featured on Bax’s all-Russian album, a Signum Classics release in which “his musical sensitivity is fully on display” (Washington Post) and that was named one of the “Best of 2015” (Music-Web International). The pianist plays the same program for a recital in Dallas earlier in April, and in May in Alicante, Spain, with the addition of Mozart’s Six Variations on a Theme from the Clarinet Quintet.

Bax is also a superlative chamber musician who has been recognized with Lincoln Center’s 2013 Martin E. Segal Award, an Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and an Avery Fisher Career Grant. In June and early July he spends a week playing chamber music at Fort Worth’s Mimir Festival, which has become a yearly destination. A former member of CMS Two, he has developed a close relationship with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, whose directors Wu Han and David Finckel consider him “the complete package – a consummate recitalist, a superb soloist, an expert recording artist, and in addition, a stellar chamber musician.” After a recent North American tour with CMS that culminated at New York’s Alice Tully Hall, Bax joins Wu Han herself for Schubert’s four-hands Lebensstürme in Copenhagen and at Wigmore Hall, besides playing Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet with the Danish String Quartet at the Copenhagen concert, and Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E-flat at Wigmore Hall.

Another three of his favorite collaborators join Bax for concerts this season. After a tour of Taiwan a year ago last December with Berlin Philharmonic Concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto, the two join forces again for a ten-concert tour of Taiwan and Japan, playing a program of Mozart, Brahms, Szymanowski and Grieg. Following the tour they, too, take the program to Wigmore Hall, marking Bax’s third performance of the season at the venue. Bax also joins his wife and fellow pianist, Lucille Chung, both at Detroit’s Great Lakes Music Festival and for the upcoming inauguration of Bax’s three-year appointment as Artistic Director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena festival, which also includes Bax’s frequent recital partner Joshua Bell and an international roster of chamber musicians. Following the festival in Tuscany, Bax, Chung, Kashimoto, violinist Nicolas Dautricourt, horn player Radovan Vlatković, violist Lawrence Power, and cellist Antonio Lysy, the principal founder of the Incontri Festival, will present two more days of performances for Incontri’s first residency at Schloss Elmau in the Bavarian Alps. The musical partnership between Bax and Chung has been described as “a marriage of wondrous colours and dextrous aplomb, subtly balanced to make a musical performance sound as one” (Music and Arts, UK). Click here to see Bax and Chung play their arrangements of two tangos by Astor Piazzolla.

To download high-resolution photos, click here.


Alessio Bax: spring and summer engagements

March 11, 13
Vancouver, Canada
Vancouver Symphony / Bramwell Tovey
MACDOWELL: Piano Concerto No. 2

March 17- 19
San Jose, CA
Symphony Silicon Valley / Constantine Kitsopoulos
MOZART: Concerto for Two Pianos
SAINT-SAËNS: Carnival of the Animals
With Orion Weiss

March 29-30
Williamsburg, VA
Williamsburg Symphony
BEETHOVEN: Piano Concerto No. 5

April 7
Columbia, MO
Plowman Chamber Music Competition
Solo Recital
(On April 8-9, Bax serves on the jury of the competition.)

April 10
Dallas, TX
Southern Methodist University
Solo Recital
MOZART: 6 Variations on a Theme from the Clarinet Quintet, KV 581, KV Anh 137
SCHUBERT: Sonata in A minor, D. 784
SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 3, Op. 23
RAVEL: La Valse (poème chorégraphique pour orchestre)

April 17
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
BBC Monday Lunchtime Concerts
SCHUBERT: Sonata in A minor, D. 784
SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 3, Op. 23
RAVEL: La Valse (poème chorégraphique pour orchestre)

April 28-30
Madrid, Spain
Orquesta Nacionales de España / Miguel Harth-Bedoya
TCHAIKOVSKY: Piano Concerto No. 1

May 4
Copenhagen, Denmark
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
SCHUBERT: Lebensstürme for piano four hands (primo)
SHOSTAKOVICH: Piano Quintet, Op. 57
With Wu Han, piano; Danish String Quartet

May 5
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center
MOZART: Piano Quartet in E-flat
SCHUBERT: Lebensstürme for piano four hands (primo)
With Benjamin Beilman, violin; Yura Lee, viola; Jakob Koranyi, cello; and Wu Han, piano

May 8
Alicante, Spain
Solo Recital
MOZART: 6 Variations on a Theme from the Clarinet Quintet, KV 581, KV Anh 137
SCHUBERT: Sonata in A minor, D. 784
SCRIABIN: Sonata No. 3, Op. 23
RAVEL: La Valse (poème chorégraphique pour orchestre)

May 16
Santa Barbara, CA
Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra / Heiichiro Ohyama
SCHUMANN: Concerto

June 9-10
Miami, FL
Miami Music Festival
Masterclass (June 9) and Recital (June 10)

June 11-17
Detroit, MI
Great Lakes Music Festival with Lucille Chung & others
LUTOSLAWSKI: Variations on a Theme of Paganini, for two pianos
STRAVINSKY: Petrouchka, original complete ballet, for four hands
SHOSTAKOVICH: Concertino, for two pianos
RACHMANINOV: Suite No. 2, for two pianos

June 26-July 2
Fort Worth, TX
Mimir Festival

July 2-17
Taiwan-Japan Tour (ten cities)
With Daishin Kashimoto
MOZART: Sonata KV 301
BRAHMS: Brahms Sonata No. 1
GRIEG: Violin Sonata No. 3
RAVEL: Sonata No. 2

July 22
London, UK.
Wigmore Hall
Recital with Daishin Kashimoto

July 29-Aug 6
Incontri in Terra di Siena. Tuscany

Aug 9, 12
Schloss Elmau, Germany
Incontri in Terra di Siena at Schloss Elmau
With Daishin Kashimoto, Nicolas Dautricourt, Radovan Vlatković, Lawrence Power, Antonio Lysy, Lucille Chung

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© 21C Media Group, March 2017

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