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Emanuel Ax: The Complete RCA Album Collection

Beethoven / Ax
Release Date: 08/24/2018 
Label:  Sony   Catalog #: 88985485192  
Composer:  Frédéric ChopinLudwig van BeethovenFranz SchubertCarl Maria von Weber,   ... 
Performer:  Emanuel AxHåkan HagegårdRichard StoltzmanJohn Dalley,   ... 
Conductor:  André PrevinZubin MehtaEugene OrmandyEduardo Mata,   ... 
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic OrchestraNew York Choral ArtistsNew York Philharmonic,   ... 
Number of Discs: 23 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

Emanuel Ax has been classed among the master pianists ever since his victory at the inaugural Arthur Rubinstein Competition in 1974. His long association with RCA began the very next year, with a spellbinding disc of Chopin and Liszt transcriptions (“virtuosity of the Michelangeli or Pollini class here”, wrote Gramophone). Over the next 12 years he released 23 albums on the label, spanning much of the great piano literature, and the complete set of his RCA recordings is now reissued by Sony Classical for the first time.

With a 19th-century focus, the collection contains five CDs of Ax’s famed Chopin, five more of Beethoven, several of Brahms, Schubert, and Mozart, and many other classic recordings.

Playing
Read more Chopin, wrote Gramophone, Emanuel Ax shows “all the relaxed fluency and tonal elegance of a master pianist”. His performances on that LP, containing the Andante spianato and Grande Polonaise brillante and Fourth Scherzo, were “of a superlative distinction”. Remarkably, Ax was only 26 when he recorded this album, in 1975.

“Deeply felt and exuberant” (New York Times) performances of the Brahms cello sonatas mark his longstanding association with Yo-Yo Ma, while Ax accompanies baritone Håkan Hagegård in Schubert’s Schwanengesang and Die schöne Müllerin. “Emanuel Ax is a diligent and responsive Schubertian,” wrote BBC Music Magazine of a “Trout” Quintet recording with the Guarneri Quartet.

Ax’s “deeply insightful” (New York Times) interpretations of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” and “Les Adieux” sonatas are joined here by the “Waldstein” Sonata and “Eroica” Variations, as well as a complete set of concertos with André Previn and the RPO, and a Choral Fantasy with the New York Philharmonic. “Ax is a first-rate Beethoven player,” wrote Gramophone of his “Emperor” Concerto.

Elsewhere, Ax’s virtuosity takes center stage in a Ravel album including Gaspard de la nuit, while his commitment to chamber music is shown in Schumann, Dvorák, and Brahms Piano Quintets with the Cleveland String Quartet, and a Weber and Schubert album with clarinettist Richard Stoltzman. Many fine concerto performances include four by Mozart, Brahms’s First with the Chicago Symphony, and both of Chopin’s concertos with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Eugene Ormandy.

Of course, there are more of Ax’s legendary Chopin recordings as well, including the Second and Third Sonatas and the four Ballades. The Ballades, Gramophone wrote, are “a reminder of the awe-inspiring calibre of Emanuel Ax’s Chopin”. Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Piano no 2 in B flat minor, B 128/Op. 35 "Funeral March" by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1839; Paris, France 
2.
Andante spianato et Grand polonaise brillante in E flat major, Op. 22 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830-1831; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 1975 
3.
Nocturnes (2) for Piano, B 161/Op. 62: no 1 in B major by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Paris, France 
4.
Ballade for Piano no 1 in G minor, B 66/Op. 23 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1835 
5.
Ballade for Piano no 2 in F major/a minor, B 102/Op. 38 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1836-1839; Paris, France 
6.
Ballade for Piano no 3 in A flat major, B 136/Op. 47 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1840-1841; Paris, France 
7.
Ballade for Piano no 4 in F minor, B 146/Op. 52 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
8.
Scherzo for Piano no 2 in B flat minor/D flat major, B 111/Op. 31 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Paris, France 
9.
Scherzo for Piano no 4 in E major, B 148/Op. 54 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 1975 
10.
Polonaise-fantaisie for Piano in A flat major, B 159/Op. 61 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1845-1846; Poland 
11.
Nouvelles Etudes (3) for Piano, B 130 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1839; Paris, France 
12.
Scherzo for Piano no 1 in B minor, B 65/Op. 20 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1831-1832; Poland 
13.
Scherzo for Piano no 2 in B flat minor/D flat major, B 111/Op. 31 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Paris, France 
14.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in C major, Op. 15 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1795; Vienna, Austria 
15.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in B flat major, Op. 19 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1793/1798; Vienna, Austria 
16.
Concerto for Piano no 3 in C minor, Op. 37 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1800; Vienna, Austria 
17.
Concerto for Piano no 4 in G major, Op. 58 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1806; Vienna, Austria 
18.
Concerto for Piano no 5 in E flat major, Op. 73 "Emperor" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  André Previn
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809; Vienna, Austria 
19.
Fantasia in C minor, Op. 80 "Choral Fantasy" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Zubin Mehta
Orchestra/Ensemble:  New York Choral Artists,  New York Philharmonic
Period: Classical 
Written: 1808; Vienna, Austria 
Language: German 
20.
Die schöne Müllerin, D 795/Op. 25 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Håkan Hagegård (Baritone), Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1823; Vienna, Austria 
Venue:  RCA Studio A, New York City 
Length: 61 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Language: German 
21.
Sonata for Arpeggione in A minor, D 821 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano), Richard Stoltzman (Clarinet)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1824; Vienna, Austria 
22.
Grand Duo concertante for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, J 204/Op. 48 by Carl Maria von Weber
Performer:  Richard Stoltzman (Clarinet), Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1815-1816; Germany 
23.
Schwanengesang, D 957 by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Håkan Hagegård (Baritone), Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1828; Vienna, Austria 
24.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in A major, D 667/Op. 114 "Trout" by Franz Schubert
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano), John Dalley (Violin), Julius Levine (Double Bass),
David Soyer (Cello), Michael Tree (Viola)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet members
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1819; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/1983 
Venue:  Studio A, RCA Studios, New York City 
Length: 40 Minutes 1 Secs. 
25.
Serenade no 13 in G major, K 525 "Eine kleine Nachtmusik" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Julius Levine (Double Bass), John Dalley (Violin), David Soyer (Cello),
Michael Tree (Viola), Arnold Steinhardt (Violin)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Guarneri String Quartet
Period: Classical 
Written: 1787; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 11/1980 
Venue:  Studio A, RCA Studios, New York City 
Length: 18 Minutes 4 Secs. 
26.
Sonata for Piano no 3 in B minor, B 155/Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1844; Paris, France 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 26 Minutes 30 Secs. 
27.
Das Wandern (Schubert) for Piano, S 565 no 1 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
28.
Der Müller und der Bach (Schubert) for Piano, S 565 no 2 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1846; Hungary 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 3 Minutes 45 Secs. 
29.
Schwanengesang (Schubert), S 560: no 10, Liebesbotschaft by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838-1839; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
30.
Ständchen "Horch, horch!" (Schubert) for Piano, S 558 no 9 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837-1838; France 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 2 Minutes 45 Secs. 
31.
Concert Etudes (2) for Piano, S 145: no 2, Gnomenreigen by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: ?1862-63; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 2 Minutes 58 Secs. 
32.
Transcendental Etudes (6) after Paganini, S 140: no 6 in A minor "Theme and Variations" by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Switzerland 
Date of Recording: 02/1975 
Venue:  New York, New York 
Length: 5 Minutes 30 Secs. 
33.
Variations (15) and Fugue for Piano in E flat major, Op. 35 "Eroica" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Written: 1802 
34.
Sonata for Piano no 26 in E flat major, Op. 81a "Les Adieux" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1809-1810; Vienna, Austria 
35.
Sonata for Piano no 23 in F minor, Op. 57 "Appassionata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1804-1805; Vienna, Austria 
36.
Sonata for Piano no 21 in C major, Op. 53 "Waldstein" by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1803-1804; Vienna, Austria 
37.
Polonaise for Piano in C major, Op. 89 by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1814; Vienna, Austria 
38.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 44 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1986 
Venue:  Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York 
Length: 26 Minutes 57 Secs. 
39.
Quartet for Piano and Strings in E flat major, Op. 47 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1842; Germany 
Date of Recording: 11/1986 
Venue:  Eastman Theatre, Rochester, New York 
Length: 29 Minutes 10 Secs. 
40.
Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1861-1864; Austria 
41.
Quintet for Piano and Strings no 2 in A major, Op. 81/B 155 by Antonín Dvorák
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cleveland String Quartet
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1887; Bohemia 
42.
Gaspard de la nuit by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1908; France 
43.
Valses nobles et sentimentales by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1911; France 
44.
Ma mère l'oye by Maurice Ravel
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano), Yoko Nozaki (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: France 
45.
Concerto for Piano no 2 in F minor, B 43/Op. 21 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1829-1830; Poland 
46.
Concerto for Piano no 1 in E minor, B 53/Op. 11 by Frédéric Chopin
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Eugene Ormandy
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Philadelphia Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1830; Poland 
47.
Concerto for Piano no 20 in D minor, K 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Eduardo Mata
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/24/1979 
48.
Concerto for Piano no 22 in E flat major, K 482 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Eduardo Mata
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dallas Symphony Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1785; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 02/25/1979 
49.
Concerto for Piano no 18 in B flat major, K 456 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
50.
Concerto for Piano no 17 in G major, K 453 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Conductor:  Pinchas Zukerman
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
Period: Classical 
Written: 1784; Vienna, Austria 
51.
Phantasiestücke (8) for Piano, Op. 12 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1837; Germany 
52.
Humoreske for Piano in B flat major, Op. 20 by Robert Schumann
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1838; Germany 
53.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 1 in E minor, Op. 38 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Emanuel Ax (Piano), Yo-Yo Ma (Cello)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1862-1865; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Length: 27 Minutes 35 Secs. 
54.
Sonata for Cello and Piano no 2 in F major, Op. 99 by Johannes Brahms
Performer:  Yo-Yo Ma (Cello), Emanuel Ax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1886; Austria 
Date of Recording: 1984 
Length: 28 Minutes 35 Secs. 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  2 Customer Reviews )
 Emanuel Ax - Complete RCA Recordings September 29, 2018 By T. Drake (South Euclid, OH) See All My Reviews "Emanuel Ax’s career as an international pianist essentially began when he won the First Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Master competition in 1974. Part of the prize package was a recording contract with RCA Red Seal records – at the time, one of the world’s largest classical labels. That contract lasted until 1987, when Ax moved to CBS Masterworks, later Sony Classical – which was also the label of his great friend, Yo-Yo Ma. Ironically, Sony now owns the former RCA – and that label has released Ax’s complete RCA recordings – a total of 23 CDs. Whichever label he’s recorded for, Ax has been a reliable, genial presence on international concert stages. Having seen him in recital and with orchestra several times, both in Boston and Cleveland, I can assure the listener that Ax’s recordings present a reasonable facsimile of the “real thing.” These are not sterile, cut & paste jobs. Ax was not a Rubinstein protégé, but he did informally coach with Rubinstein, and the elder pianist’s strong advocacy of Ax during the 1974 competition made comparisons inevitable. There are similarities in that Ax presents a healthy, uncluttered, and sane interpretative perspective to the music he performs. The differences lay in details – namely, Ax’s attentiveness to them. For one thing, Ax is more particular about which edition of the music he’s playing from (Rubinstein once caused a mild furor at a conservatory when he gave a master class using outdated, unreliable Schirmer editions). This is made immediately clear in his recording of Beethoven’s Appassionata Sonata, where he plays the A-flat that Beethoven wrote ten bars before the end, not the F you hear in nearly every recording. Like Rubinstein, Ax recorded quite a bit of chamber music – unlike Rubinstein, this includes collaborations with singers. No mention of Ax in chamber music is complete without his collaborations with Yo-Yo Ma, but the only one in this set is the Brahms Cello Sonatas from 1985 – one of my “go-to” versions of these works. Other highlights here include a Weber and Schubert album with clarinetist Richard Stoltzman; Schumann, Brahms, and Dvo?ák with the Cleveland Quartet; and two Schubert song cycles with Håkan Hagegård. These are apt demonstrations of an attentive, collaborative, and generous performer. With exceptions like Beethoven’s Piano Concertos, Ax doesn’t go for complete recorded editions of a particular group of works – instead he picks and chooses among different genres. This makes for especially interesting Chopin recitals. The Third Sonata, presented in Ax’s debut album, is an absolutely solid presentation of a well-considered interpretation. Every note of Chopin’s miraculous opening movement is placed within the context of the phrase, which is within the context of the section, which is in turn in the context of the movement as a whole. Nothing sticks out and each voice is given appropriate weight. The rapid passages of the second movement have seldom sounded more scintillating. But it’s the finale where the piece builds toward an inevitable climax. This is a rendition on par with my favorite recording of the work (Kapell) and which easily outclasses Rubinstein. The four Ballades, too, receive renditions which balance the work’s narrative structure with virtuosity. As for the one Beethoven Concerto cycle with Previn (which also includes a Choral Fantasy with Mehta), it’s a solid set with a sense of communication between soloist, orchestra, and conductor. (A minor annoyance here is Sony’s insistence on dividing the Choral Fantasy into seven tracks – hardly necessary in such a short work.) Ax also proves his mettle as a Beethoven interpreter in the Appassonata, Les Adieux, and Waldstein Sonatas, as well as the Eroica Variations – big-boned playing which never veers into the melodramatic. There are four Mozart Concertos here: Nos. 17 & 18 with the Saint Paul Chamber Symphony under Pinchas Zukerman, and Nos. 20 & 22 with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the late Eduardo Mata. I was more convinced by the latter two, but that may be because the works themselves are more convincing. Also in Concertos, there are two collaborations with the autumnal Eugene Ormandy in Chopin’s Concertos – lovely readings of two pieces that don’t always “work” on recordings. Before purchasing this set, I hadn’t even known that Ax had recorded any Ravel, but here he is with Mother Goose (with Yoko Nozaki), Gaspard de la Nuit, and Valses Noble and Sentimentales. Sony’s policy has been to use the best existing transfers of any recordings previously issued on CD, newly remastering only material which has never been issued on CD before. In the case of this set, six of the CDs consist of newly remastered material. But there’s no need to quibble over remastering as the sound throughout the set is never less than very good, and sometimes excellent. Jed Distler’s excellent booklet essay, which not only delves into Ax’s musical acumen but affirms he’s a genuinely nice guy, rounds out this set." Report Abuse
 Emmanuel Ax - rediscovered September 26, 2018 By Tapani Talo (White Plains, NY) See All My Reviews "It is amzing what we miss in certain phases in our lives. This collection is Astonishing in selection and audio quality. Will be my gift to many friends" Report Abuse
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