Ariel Quartet joined by award-winning pianist in Nov. 21 concert
The ensemble welcomes Alessio Bax for Dvořák's Piano Quintet No. 2
Story by CCM Graduate Assistant Lucy Evans
The Ariel Quartet, UC College-Conservatory of Music’s String Quartet-in-Residence, continues its season Tuesday, Nov 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Werner Recital Hall. Alessio Bax, the award-winning Italian pianist, joins Ariel for the program’s finale: Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major, widely regarded as one of the masterpieces of the form. Tickets are on sale now through the CCM Box Office.
The program begins with Schumann’s String Quartet No. 3 in A Major. Throughout the quartet’s four movements, off-beat rhythmic gestures lend the music a sense of instability which is at times breathless in the first movement, angst-ridden in the third, or jovial in the robust dance of the final movement.
Tan Dun’s “Eight Colors for String Quartet” follows the Schumann. Drawing inspiration from the sounds of the Peking Opera, Buddhist chant and western atonality, the piece is a vivid conversation between the music of the Dun’s native China and the western canon. In a program note, the composer describes the work’s eight movements as “a set of brush paintings, through which materials are shared and developed…I began to find a way to mingle old materials from my culture with the new, to contribute something to the western idea of atonality and refresh it.”
For Dvořák’s Piano Quintet in A major, the program’s thrilling finale, the quartet is joined by Alessio Bax. The 2009 winner of the Avery Fisher Grant, Bax appears regularly as a soloist with the world’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, the London Philharmonic and the Tokyo Symphony. He has appeared in recitals worldwide, and his playing is featured in the critically-acclaimed film, Call Me by Your Name.
The Piano Quintet in A major is actually a revision of a much earlier piece. Dissatisfied with his first Piano Quintet, Dvořák returned to the manuscript 15 years later—applying his mature creative style to a work which he wrote in the beginning of his career. The resulting quintet is hailed as one of the finest examples of late-Romantic chamber music. Full of wistful lyricism and joyful, frenzied climaxes, Dvořák draws inspiration from Czech folk tunes to deliver music which is characteristically evocative of a time and place while remaining wholly original.
The Ariel Quartet presents its final concert of the fall semester at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 21 in Robert J. Werner Recital Hall. Tickets are on sale through the CCM Box Office.
Combining exceptional lyricism and insight with consummate technique, Alessio Bax is without a doubt “among the most remarkable young pianists now before the public” (Gramophone). He catapulted to prominence with First Prize wins at both the 2000 Leeds International Piano Competition and the 1997 Hamamatsu International Piano Competition and is now a familiar face on five continents as a recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. He has appeared with over 150 orchestras, including the New York, London, Royal, and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, the Boston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Seattle, Sydney, and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestras, and the Tokyo and NHK Symphony in Japan, collaborating with such eminent conductors as Marin Alsop, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Sir Andrew Davis, Fabio Luisi, Sir Simon Rattle, Yuri Temirkanov, and Jaap van Zweden.
Highlights of the 2023-24 season include his debut with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, return performances with Dallas Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic, and Buenos Aires Philharmonic, his fifth performance at the famed Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, a tour of Asia with violinist Daishin Kashimoto, and of Japan with flutist Emmanuel Pahud, numerous New York appearances with Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a wide range of high-profile chamber music projects, recitals, and concerto performances in Europe, Asia, and across the United States.
As a renowned chamber musician, he recently collaborated with Joshua Bell, Ian Bostridge, Lucille Chung, Vilde Frang, Steven Isserlis, Daishin Kashimoto, François Leleux, Sergei Nakariakov, Emmanuel Pahud, Lawrence Power, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Paul Watkins, and Tabea Zimmermann, among many others.
Since 2017, he has been the Artistic Director of the Incontri in Terra di Siena Festival, a Summer Music Festival in the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany. He appears regularly in festivals such as Seattle, Bravo Vail, Salon-de-Provence, Le Pont in Japan, Great Lakes, Verbier, Ravinia, and Music@Menlo.
In 2009, he was awarded an Avery Fisher Career Grant, and four years later he received both the Andrew Wolf Chamber Music Award and the Lincoln Center Award for Emerging Artists.
Bax’s celebrated Signum Classics discography includes "Italian Inspirations," Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”); Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto; Bax & Chung, a duo disc with Lucille Chung; Alessio Bax plays Mozart, recorded with London’s Southbank Sinfonia; Alessio Bax: Scriabin & Mussorgsky (named “Recording of the Month ... and quite possibly ... of the year” by MusicWeb International); Alessio Bax plays Brahms (a Gramophone “Critics’ Choice”); Bach Transcribed; and Rachmaninov: Preludes & Melodies (an American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice”). Recorded for Warner Classics, his Baroque Reflections album was also a Gramophone “Editor’s Choice.” He performed Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” Sonata for Daniel Barenboim in the PBS-TV documentary Barenboim on Beethoven: Masterclass, available on DVD from EMI. The next season will see the release of two additional discs for Signum Classics: a new solo recital album and a four hands/two pianos disc of French music with Lucille Chung.
At the age of 14, Bax graduated with top honors from the conservatory of Bari, his hometown in Italy, and after further studies in Europe, he moved to the United States in 1994. He has been on the piano faculty of Boston’s New England Conservatory since the fall of 2019 and serves as co-artistic director of the Joaquín Achúcarro Foundation for emerging pianists.
Bax lives in New York City with pianist Lucille Chung and their daughter, Mila.
SCHUMANN: String Quartet No. 3 in A Major, Op. 41/3
DUN: Eight Colors for String Quartet
DVORAK: Piano Quintet No. 2 in A Major, Op. 81, B. 155
- 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21
Robert J. Werner Recital Hall, CCM Village
University of Cincinnati
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CCM Graduate Assistant, Marketing + Communications
Lucy Evans is an artist diploma student studying Opera-Vocal Performance at CCM. She is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, and was recently an Apprentice Artist with the Santa Fe Opera.