Emanuel Ax, Piano
SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
CHOPIN Impromptu in A-flat Major, Op. 29
CHOPIN Impromptu in F-sharp Major, Op. 36
CHOPIN Impromptu in G-flat Major, Op. 51
CHOPIN Fantaisie-Impromptu in C-sharp Minor, Op. 66
SAMUEL ADAMS Impromptu (after Schubert) (NY Premiere)
CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58
CHOPIN Nocturne in F-sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2
CHOPIN Waltz in A-flat Major, Op. 34, No. 1
Event DurationThe printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.
At a Glance
FRANZ SCHUBERT Four Impromptus, D. 935
As their name implies, these four impromptus—composed less than a year before Schubert’s untimely death—share a spontaneous, improvisatory quality. Yet so deliberately did he lay the set out that it has often been likened to a four-movement sonata. The lyrical theme-and-variations in the third movement evokes the intimate, singing tone that contemporaries admired in the composer’s piano playing.
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN Four Impromptus
Composed over a period of roughly eight years, Chopin’s four impromptus illustrate the increasing range and complexity of his music as he expanded his stylistic horizons in the 1830s and ’40s, partly under the influence of Liszt. In these pieces—as in his nocturnes, waltzes, mazurkas, and other solo piano works—Chopin imbued the brilliance of the salon style with unprecedented poetic depth.
SAMUEL ADAMS Impromptu (after Schubert)
San Francisco–born composer Samuel Adams has forged an eclectic idiom that comprises acoustic and electroacoustic, classical and popular, and old and new elements. Impromptu (after Schubert) is one of three impromptus commissioned by Emanuel Ax that were designed to be interleaved with Schubert’s Four Impromptus, D. 935, but can also be performed independently.
FRÉDÉRIC CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58
Chopin demonstrated uncompromising independence as both a composer and pianist. Liszt characterized him as “one of those original beings” who are “adrift from all bondage.” It was arguably the unparalleled range and subtlety of Chopin’s pianism that enabled him to cast off the shackles of musical convention so successfully in works such as the great Sonata in B Minor.
Emanuel Ax has won the Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition, Young Concert Artists' Michaels Award, and Avery Fisher Prize. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
A committed exponent of contemporary composers-with works written for him by John Adams, Christopher Rouse, Krzysztof Penderecki, Bright Sheng, and Melinda Wagner already in his repertoire-Mr. Ax's 2016-2017 season features two newly commissioned works. This past January, he performed the world premiere of HK Gruber's Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Alan Gilbert, followed this month by the work's European premiere with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Sir Simon Rattle. As a regular visitor, Mr. Ax returns this season to the orchestras of Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Cincinnati, Toronto, Seattle, Milwaukee, and Detroit.
An exclusive Sony Classical recording artist since 1987, Mr. Ax's recent releases include Mendelssohn trios with Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman; Strauss's Enoch Arden narrated by Patrick Stewart; and discs of two-piano music by Brahms and Rachmaninoff with Yefim Bronfman. In 2015, Deutsche Grammophon released a duo recording of Mr. Ax and Mr. Perlman playing sonatas by Fauré and Strauss, which the two artists presented on tour during the 2015-2016 season. A frequent and committed chamber musician, Mr. Ax has worked regularly with such artists as Young Uck Kim, Cho-Liang Lin, Edgar Meyer, Peter Serkin, Jaime Laredo, Mr. Ma, and the late Isaac Stern.
Born in Lvov, Poland, Mr. Ax moved to Winnipeg, Canada, with his family when he was a young boy. He currently resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Yoko Nozaki, with whom he has two children. Mr. Ax holds honorary doctorate degrees in music from Yale University and Columbia University.