Polish by birth and a victor of the Chopin Competition, Emanuel Ax was bound to have a close relationship with Chopin. But it is the sheer quality of his playing that makes him so renowned as a Chopin performer. Six CDs present Ax’s interpretations of a stimulating range of concertante, solo and chamber works by his compatriot. The two concertos are played with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment across two discs from 1998–1999. In his debut recordings on a historical instrument, Ax conjured “period performances unlikely to be outshone for their imagination and poetry” (Gramophone). Reviewing some of the solo performances collected here, Gramophone wrote that Ax’s recordings “are of a superlative distinction and show all the relaxed fluency and tonal elegance of a master pianist”. “No doubt Chopin would have approved” of his handling of the Mazurkas, said ClassicsToday.com, presented alongside the complete Scherzos and Ballades, as well as the Second and Third Sonatas. Ax’s famed partnership with Yo-Yo Ma, represented on the final disc, produces a “tactfully balanced, persuasively fluid performance” (Gramophone) of the Cello Sonata.
Ax’s recordings are of a superlative distinction and show all the relaxed fluency and tonal elegance of a master pianist. Ax and Yo-Yo Ma produce a tactfully balanced, persuasively fluid performance of the Cello Sonata.
– Gramophone (paraphrased from note above)