Performance Thursday, May 15, 2014 | 8 PM

Emanuel Ax

Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
Emanuel Ax is "an extremely satisfying pianist; he is at home in a wide variety of music and his pianism is always thoughtful, lyrical, lustrous” (The Washington Post). The multifaceted music-maker shows off his command of a wide array of repertoire with this inventive program that honors Brahms’s legacy, pairing keyboard classics by Brahms with the New York premieres of stunning new works by acclaimed contemporary composers Brett Dean and Missy Mazzoli.

The contemporary works on this program are part of My Time, My Music.


  • Emanuel Ax, Piano


  • BRAHMS Piano Sonata No. 2 in F-sharp Minor, Op. 2
  • BRETT DEAN Hommage à Brahms (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRAHMS Klavierstücke, Op. 119
  • MISSY MAZZOLI Bolts of Loving Thunder (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
  • BRAHMS Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel


Brahms's Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel (Fuga moderato)
Emanuel Ax, Piano
Sony Classical

At a Glance

This evening's program features a cross-section of Brahms's diverse body of music for solo piano, together with a pair of contemporary works inspired by his characteristic blend of Classical discipline and Romantic freedom.

The Sonata in F-sharp Minor is the second of three sonatas that Brahms wrote in the early 1850s. Upon hearing the young composer play them, Robert Schumann declared that it was as if he had sprung forth "like Minerva fully armed from the head of Jove." The dazzlingly creative Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel illustrates Brahms's abiding interest in variation form; it is one of a cluster of such works composed in the middle of his career. Toward the end of his life, Brahms returned to the characteristically Romantic genre of the instrumental "character" piece, a time-honored vehicle for distilling a particular mood or musical idea to its essence. The four miniature masterpieces that comprise the Op. 119 set are his last works for solo piano.

Rounding out the program are two works newly commissioned by Emanuel Ax as part of his Brahms Then and Now project: Hommage à Brahms by Australian composer Brett Dean—three short pieces designed to be performed as interludes between the four Op. 119 Klavierstücke—and Bolts of Loving Thunder by the young Brooklyn-based composer Missy Mazzoli. Both take Brahms's music as a point of departure for sonic explorations in contemporary idioms.
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Sponsored by Breguet, Exclusive Timepiece of Carnegie Hall
Lead support for Carnegie Hall commissions is provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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