Performance Saturday, April 22, 2017 | 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 beloved musician returns to Carnegie Hall for a recital that features impromptus by Schubert and Chopin, and the New York premiere of a new work by Samuel Adams.


  • 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 No. 2 in A-flat Major (after Schubert) (NY Premiere)
  • CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58


CHOPIN Piano Sonata No. 3 in B Minor, Op. 58 (Finale: Presto non tanto)
Emanuel Ax, Piano

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 No. 2 in A-flat Major (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. The A-flat Major Impromptu 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.

Program Notes
This performance is part of Great Artists II.