New York Philharmonic
GRUBER Piano Concerto (World Premiere–New York Philharmonic Co-Commission with the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras)
Recording Available January 22, 2013
Variations Features Three Works Never Before Recorded By The Pianist
Sony Classical is proud to announce a new recording by pianist Emanuel Ax of four significant sets of Variations by four titanic composers: Haydn, Beethoven, Schumann, and Copland. Variations is available on Tuesday, January 22, 2013.
One of the best known classical musicians of our time and winner of multiple Grammy awards for both solo and chamber performances, Ax believes that the Variations format is the great composer’s way of showing consummate artistry. “I think people like Beethoven, Haydn, and Schumann show what great compositional virtuosos they are in these pieces.”
The pianist points out that each of these sets of Variations is unusual, “each revolutionary in its own way.” He has also discovered that they go very well together in a concert program. Now, surely to the worldwide delight of fans of virtuoso classical piano performance, he presents them together on a recording as well.
The album features Beethoven’s Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat major, Op. 35, commonly known as the Eroica Variations because it’s built partly on the famous theme of the Eroica Symphony. It also includes Haydn’s Andante with Variations in F minor (Hob. XVII:6), also known as the Keyboard Sonata “Un piccolo divertimento.”
The Symphonic Etudes Op. 13 by Robert Schumann, a very difficult piece and a recent addition to the pianist’s repertoire, round out the CD version of the release. However, a bonus track of the great American composer Aaron Copland’s Piano Variations is also included with purchase of a digital download only. Mr. Ax describes this less well known piece as “very ‘in your face’ – there are beautiful things in it and it’s a very powerful piece, and [in the opening] it’s a real expression of the piano as a percussion instrument.”
In the pianist’s life, says Mr. Ax, “we’re so centered on the sonata style. What’s nice sometimes is to look at other ways to deal with structure, other ways to deal with expression, other ways to deal with forming your thoughts.” As a great and longtime admirer of the Variations idea, he is perhaps the ideal interpreter to bring this love to life in the recording studio. These pieces also represent the planned repertoire of some of his upcoming solo performances. (In addition, Mr. Ax is a featured soloist with the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center for much of its 2012-2013 season.)