Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Acclaimed pianist ALESSIO BAX opens Spivey Hall's 22nd Concert Season

Italian-born pianist ALESSIO BAX, first-prize winner of the 2000 Leeds International Pianoforte Competition and recipient of a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, makes his Spivey Hall debut this Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM, to open the 2012-2013 Spivey Series.

Yesterday (October 2) he performed in Dallas the program he'll also perform here, featuring works by Brahms and Rachmaninov, and finishing with Ravel's highly colorful and atmospheric La Valse.

Scott Cantrell, writing for The Dallas Morning News, found plenty to like about this performance.  Here are some highlights:

A glorious recital by pianist Alessio Bax

By Scott Cantrell

I can’t remember when I’ve heard a piano recital as wholly satisfying as the one performed Tuesday night by Alessio Bax. Now “only” in his mid-30s, the Italian-born, longtime U.S.-resident pianist, an alumnus of Southern Methodist University and adjunct faculty member there, played with the depth and understanding of a grand master.

Presented as part of the inaugural season of the Dallas Chamber Symphony, Bax appeared in the new Dallas City Performance Hall. With the adjustable acoustical banners covering only the upper walls, the sound was maybe 10 percent too “wet” for solo piano; busier passages clotted a bit. But with further experimentation this should be a dream setting for piano recitals — alas rarely heard in Dallas.

Bax opted for quite a romantic program, and played it with a full measure of romantic expression. The first half paired Brahms’ very serious Op. 10 Ballades with Rachmaninoff’s delicious play-to-the-balcony arrangements of Fritz Kreisler’s Leibesleid and Liebesfreud.

Bax was wholly in command of both very different idioms. Better than that, he actually seemed to be channeling the composers: Brahms very “inner,” a man of mystery; Rachmaninoff in purest entertainer mode, but with no hint of condescension.

Further contrasts were supplied in five Rachmaninoff preludes in the recital’s second half. The famous C-sharp minor was awesome in its grandeur, the accompaniment of the G-flat major emerging as from mists, the B-flat major stormily heroic.

Finally came Ravel’s La valse, in a performance that captured the whole collage of mystery, hallucinatory strangeness, whimsy, imperial elegance and the demonic explosions at the end. 

Rhythm and color were sensitively bent to the music’s shape, direction and harmonic nuances. Or, rather, the music itself seemed at one with Bax’s visceral responses. This was artistry of a high level. It’s a pity only about 200 people took advantage of it.

 * * * *

Spivey Hall pianophiles know that we took delivery of a fantastic new Hamburg Steinway D-274 concert grand piano.  Pianos at Spivey Hall all have names.  This piano's name is "Clara" and she's a real beauty.  For the past four days, we've had one of the world's foremost piano technicians, Ulrich Gerhartz, Steinway and Sons London's Director of Concert and Artists Services, at Spivey Hall to voice and regulate Clara, to make sound her best in Spivey Hall's glorious acoustics.  

I'm incredibly eager to hear how Alessio Bax fares with Clara.  With this artist, this program, and this piano in Spivey Hall,  I believe we have a VERY exciting and rewarding afternoon of music ahead of us this Sunday.  

Artists regularly greet the audience after their Spivey Hall performances, and Mr. Bax will be signing  programs as well as copies of his Signum CD recordings. We'll have available for purchase copies of his critically-acclaimed Bach transcription CD (which first brought his playing to my attention) and well as his highly-praised Rachmaninov Preludes and Melodies CD (including working he's performing on Sunday) -- and his newest CD of works by Brahms, including the Ballades (also on the program) and the powerfully virtuosic Paganini Variations.

We warmly welcome Steinway Piano Galleries as Spivey Hall's 2012-2013 Piano Series sponsor, and we'll have on display in the lobby a very special upright Steinway from its artcase series.  Each of these artcase pianos is a uniquely stylized, one-of-a-kind creation -- not your average practice room upright!  And we are grateful to our loyal Spivey Hall subscriber and donor, John W. Markham III, for being the Friends of Spivey Hall Concert Sponsor of Alessio Bax's debut recital here.

Tickets can be purchased from the Box Office by calling  (678) 466-4200) and are also available online. If you're a student with ID or a Georgia educator, you can get a 50% discount (available only by calling or visiting the Box Office).  Clayton State students' tickets are just $10 each...what a bargain, eh?


Post a Comment

<< Home