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This Summer, Alessio Bax Launches Artistic Directorship of Italy’s Incontri Festival; Partners Lucille Chung in Michigan, Germany, and Spain; and Joins Forces with Daishin Kashimoto in Asia and at Wigmore Hall

Alessio Bax’s full lineup takes him to three continents this summer. The Leeds and Hamamatsu winner launches a new three-year appointment as Artistic Director of Tuscany’s Incontri in Terra di Siena, with a week of events in and around the idyllic Villa La Foce estate (July 29–Aug 6) and two additional performances at Germany’s Schloss Elmau (Aug 9 & 12). Besides collaborating with his wife, fellow pianist, and regular recital partner Lucille Chung at Incontri (July 29) and in returns to Michigan’s Great Lakes Music Festival (June 13–18), Germany’s Moritzburg Festival (Aug 13–17), and Spain’s Festival Torroella de Montgri (Aug 20), he also embarks on an eleven-city Asian tour with Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto (July 5–19), followed by a recital at Wigmore Hall (July 22) that marks the Italian pianist’s third appearance of the season at the London venue.

In the inaugural season of Bax’s directorship, Italy’s Incontri in Terra di Siena opens with a week at the spectacular Villa La Foce, nearby medieval castle Castelluccio, and other local venues in the Tuscan hills, where he will be joined by 14 superlative chamber musicians: mezzo Sarah Connolly; violinists Joshua Bell and Henning Kraggerud; violist Lise Berthaud; cellists Antonio Lysy and Paul Watkins; horn player Radovan Vlatković; pianists Lucille Chung, Julius Drake and Dan Tepfer; and the Escher String Quartet. Programming highlights include the European premiere of Tepfer’s Solar Spiral (2016), and Joshua Bell’s leadership of the beloved Mendelssohn Octet. As Bax explained in a recent “Meet the Artist” interview:

“[Incontri] is truly a unique festival and it has a deep connection with its surroundings, so I had to keep that in mind. I lined up a ‘dream team’ of my favourite artists and close friends who like to work together. And I tried to think of programs that are satisfyingly balanced, exciting, inspiring and fresh. I can’t wait to hear the results.”

He himself gives three performances during the festival’s Italian component. He and Chung join forces with Italian-born cellist and festival founder Antonio Lysy to launch the Incontri season with a program of Mozart, Rachmaninov, and Piazzolla at the Castelluccio, a 12th-century bastion on the La Foce estate (July 29), and he partners Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud, winner of both the Grieg and Sibelius Prizes, in Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata at the 16th-century Triano Church in Montefollonico (July 31). Finally, Bax reunites with superstar violinist Joshua Bell, his regular recital partner since 2013, for an all-Brahms gala program. Also featuring celebrated Croatian horn player Radovan Vlatković, this takes place in the medieval hilltop village of Castiglioncello, home of Monteverdi Tuscany, the luxury resort named “one of the four best hotels in Italy” by the UK’s Country & Town House magazine (Aug 3). By way of a coda, the festival concludes at Germany’s Schloss Elmau, where Bax, Chung, Lysy, and Vlatković collaborate with violinist Nicolas Dautricourt and violist Lawrence Power on chamber programs of Mozart, Dohnanyi, and Fauré (Aug 9) and of Mozart and Brahms (Aug 12), among the dramatic peaks and forests of the Bavarian Alps.

Bax’s musical partnership with Lucille 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), while Classical CD Choice admires their “almost supernatural understanding of the demands of the duo repertoire.” The two come together for duo recitals at Michigan’s Great Lakes Music Festival, where they perform an all-Russian program pairing music for two pianos by Lutoslawski, Shostakovich, and Rachmaninov with Stravinsky’s complete Pétrouchka in the original four-hands arrangement (June 14), and at Germany’s Moritzburg Festival. There they play Brahms’s waltzes for piano four-hands (Aug 13) and their own signature four-hands arrangement of Piazzolla tangos (Aug 17), as heard on their 2013 Signum Classics album Bax & Chung, which prompted Gramophone magazine to “wish that Piazzolla had been alive to hear it.” The two festivals also see Bax in company with more of today’s foremost chamber artists, including all four members of the nine-time Grammy Award-winning Emerson String Quartet at Great Lakes and cellist Jan Vogler, festival Artistic Director and winner of the European Award for Culture, at Moritzburg.

For their final collaboration of the summer, Bax and Chung are two of the four pianists who come together for an hommage to their former teacher, Basque piano legend Joaquín Achúcarro. Together with fellow pianists Marta Espinós and Daniel del Pino, they join the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio under the leadership of Anna Duczmal-Mróz to perform Bach’s Concertos for One, Two, Three and Four Pianos in the closing concert of this year’s Festival Torroella de Montgri (Aug 20).

Bax also renews another key artistic partnership this summer, when he joins Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster Daishin Kashimoto for duo recitals featuring Grieg’s Third Violin Sonata and Szymanowski’s Myths, first on an ambitious eleven-city tour of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea (July 5-19) and then at the Wigmore Hall (July 22). This marks Bax’s third appearance at the London venue this season; this past spring, he not only played there with Chamber Society of Lincoln Center, but made his house solo recital debut with a program of Schubert, Scriabin and Ravel that was broadcast live on BBC Radio Three.

Other highlights of 2016-17 saw the pianist wow critics with an unscheduled debut at the Cincinnati Symphony, playing Brahms’s formidable Second Piano Concerto under Sir Andrew Davis; return to the Vancouver Symphony for MacDowell under Bramwell Tovey; and join Miguel Harth-Bedoya for Mozart with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra and Tchaikovsky with Madrid’s Orquesta Nacional de España.

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Bax looks forward to a similarly compelling lineup in the coming season, when highlights include a return to the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for the season-opening concert with Lucille Chung; a U.S. recital tour next winter with Berlin Philharmonic principal flute Emmanuel Pahud; an account of Grieg’s Concerto with the Minnesota Orchestra; and the May release on Signum Classics of Beethoven’s “Emperor” concerto, recorded with the Southbank Sinfonia, and paired with rarely heard solo works by the Classical master. As Gramophone notes, Bax is “clearly among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public.”

To download high-resolution photos, click here.

Alessio Bax: summer engagements

June 9 & 10
Miami, FL
Miami Music Festival
June 9: masterclass
June 10: recital

June 13–18
Detroit, MI
Great Lakes Music Festival
June 13: Beethoven: Violin Sonata No. 9, “Kreutzer” (with Philip Setzer, violin)
June 14: Duo recital (with Lucille Chung, piano)
Lutoslawski: Variations on a Theme of Paganini, for two pianos
Stravinsky: Pétrouchka, original complete ballet, for piano four-hands
Shostakovich: Concertino, for two pianos
Rachmaninov: Suite No. 2, for two pianos
June 15: Shostakovich: Piano Quintet in G minor, Op. 57 (with Calidore Quartet)
June 16: Schumann: Märchenbilder, Op. 113, for viola and piano (with Lawrence Dutton, viola)
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 1 in G, Op. 78 (with Eugene Drucker, violin)
June 18: Ravel: Chansons madécasses (with Lauren Skuce, soprano; David Buck, flute; Paul Watkins, cello)

July 5–19
Eleven-city tour of Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea (with Daishin Kashimoto, violin)
Mozart: Violin Sonata No. 18 in G (K301/293a)
Brahms: Sonata No. 1
Szymanowski: Myths (three poems for violin and piano), Op. 30
Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3
Ravel: Violin Sonata No. 2

July 22
London, UK
Wigmore Hall
Duo recital (with Daishin Kashimoto, violin)
Mozart: Violin Sonata No. 18 in G (K301/293a)
Szymanowski: Myths (three poems for violin and piano), Op. 30
Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3

July 29–Aug 6
Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival (Artistic Director)

La Foce, Tuscany, Italy
July 29 (Castelluccio): Opening Concert
Mozart, Rachmaninov, Piazzolla (with Antonio Lysy, cello; Lucille Chung, piano)
July 31 (Montefollonico)
Grieg: Violin Sonata No. 3 (with Henning Kraggerud, violin)
Aug 3 (Castiglioncello del Trinoro): Gala Concert
Brahms: Sonatensatz (with Joshua Bell, violin)
Brahms: Violin Sonata No. 3 (with Joshua Bell, violin)
Brahms: Horn Trio, Op. 40 (with Joshua Bell, violin; Radovan Vlatković, French horn)

Aug 9 & 12
Schloss Elmau, Germany
Incontri in Terra di Siena at Schloss Elmau
(with Nicolas Dautricourt, violin; Lawrence Power, viola; Antonio Lysy, cello; Radovan Vlatković, French horn; Lucille Chung, piano)
Aug 9: Mozart, Dohnanyi, and Fauré
Aug 12: Mozart and Brahms

Aug 13–17
Moritzburg, Germany
Moritzburg Festival
Aug 13: Brahms: 16 waltzes for piano four-hands, Op. 39 (with Lucille Chung, piano)
Aug 16: Brahms: Quintet, Op. 34 (with TBA)
Aug 17: Prokofiev: Cello Sonata (with Jan Vogler, cello)
Piazzolla: Tangos for piano four-hands (with Lucille Chung, piano)

Aug 20
Festival Torroella de Montgri, Spain
“Hommage to Achúcarro”
Bach: Concertos for One, Two, Three and Four Pianos (with Lucille Chung, Marta Espinós and Daniel del Pino, piano; Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio / Anna Duczmal-Mróz)

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© 21C Media Group, June 2017

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