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Baroque Reflections / Alessio Bax


Release Date: 01/25/2005 
Label:  Warner Classics   Catalog #: 61695   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian BachChristoph W. GluckFranz LisztSergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Alessio Bax
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 9 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews



An artful program that reveals Alessio Bax as a thoughtful, imaginative and technically accomplished player.


“Bax’s tone control makes for a comfortable and ravishing listening experience … Here is a disc to treasure.”
-- American Record Guide (Critics’ Choice) 2005

“An enterprising, intelligent recital played with musical conviction and finesse”
-- Classic FM (“Best Buy – Instrumental”)

"I first heard Alessio Bax as a jury member at the 1997 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition in Japan, where he won first prize with performances of a youthful bravura and, in one special instance
Read more (Granados's El amor y muerte), of a rare idiomatic command. Today, this young Italianborn, American-based pianist confirms his status (having triumphed at Ferroll in Spain and Leeds as well as Hamamatsu) with a debut recital of a special quality and enterprise.

Here, the Baroque style is seen through richly varied perspectives, ranging from the audacious to the devotional, from the intimate to the heaven-storming. Bax launches the Bach-Busoni Toccata and Fugue with a superbly crisp and articulate call to attention. Favouring brilliance over effulgence he keeps everything clinically clean and his playing in the Adagio from Bach's D minor Concerto is memorably acute and fastidious. His way with the Bach-Siloti Prelude (the work with which Gilels used to end his recitals; a romantically troubled benediction) is brightly lit but lovingly etched, and his Handel-Liszt is of an unfaltering virtuosity and poetic inwardness.

Bax's Bach-Rachmaninov and Corelli Variations, too, are of the most concentrated wit and individuality — Variation 9 is introspective indeed, and in the insinuating waltz of Variation 15 and the desolating coda (where emotion is recollected in pain rather than tranquillity) his playing quivers with an almost hypnotic intensity. Sound and instrument are ultra-bright." -- Gramophone [11/2004]

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This is a well-constructed, artful programme and it reveals Bax as a thoughtful, imaginative and technically accomplished player. It’s nevertheless startling to hear his quite abrupt articulation of the opening Bach-Busoni, with staccato phrasing and superfine clarity, qualities that become modified and warmed through increasing tonal amplification and grandeur. Similarly the Bach-Marcello shows real perception in pacing and if the slow movement is not especially moving – well, this is often very much a question of taste. For my taste though it’s not. Whilst not in the Lipatti class his Bach-Hess has some imaginative weight of bass pointing – the left hand mobile, alive and balancing – and in the Gluck-Sgambati we reach the first plateau. This is really fine playing – almost Petri-like in its luminous romanticism. What I particularly admire is the way in which Bax brings out middle voices in a piece often weighted towards bass or treble sonorities – he doesn’t just pay attention to a spun legato or a prayerful bass; this is colouristically and tonally an enveloping performance.

Good, even trills animate the Liszt – quite expressively contoured this, delicately shaded as well – and his Rachmaninov-Bach is idiomatic and full of control. When it comes to the fearsome challenges of the Corelli Variations we find Bax is equal to the demands. Technique, stretches, rhythmic problems, co-ordination – all are tested to the full. If he doesn’t to the fullest measure convey its breadth then we can say that the coda is rapt and he serves notice as to the kind of musician he has already become.

Sound quality is warm, not cloying. Like the playing.

-- Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1.
Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1708; Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 9 Minutes 16 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Ferruccio Busoni. 
2.
Concerto in D minor after Alessandro Marcello, BWV 974 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1708-1717; Weimar, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 10 Minutes 42 Secs. 
3.
Prelude in B minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 13 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Alexander Siloti.
This is a free arrangement of the Prelude in E minor, BWV 855a, from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier. 
4.
Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147: Jesu bleibet meine Freude "Jesu, joy of man's desiring" by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1723; Leipzig, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 49 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Myra Hess. 
5.
Orfeo ed Euridice: Dance of the Blessed Spirits by Christoph W. Gluck
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Classical 
Written: 1762/1774; Vienna, Austria 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England  
Length: 3 Minutes 42 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Giovanni Sgambati. 
6.
Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel's "Almira," S 181 by Franz Liszt
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1879; Rome, Italy 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 11 Minutes 48 Secs. 
7.
Partita for Violin solo no 3 in E major, BWV 1006: 1st movement, Prelude by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 22 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Sergei Rachmaninov. 
8.
Partita for Violin solo no 3 in E major, BWV 1006: 3rd movement, Gavotte en rondeau by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 3 Minutes 25 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Sergei Rachmaninov. 
9.
Partita for Violin solo no 3 in E major, BWV 1006: 7th movement, Gigue by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 1 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Notes: Arranger: Sergei Rachmaninov. 
10.
Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op. 42 by Sergei Rachmaninov
Performer:  Alessio Bax (Piano)
Period: Romantic 
Written: 1931; USA 
Date of Recording: 05/2004 
Venue:  The Maltings, Snape, Aldeburgh, England 
Length: 18 Minutes 18 Secs. 

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