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Alessio Bax – Baroque Reflections
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)

Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565 transcribed Ferrucio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Concerto in D minor BWV 974 [after Alessandro MARCELLO (1669-1747), Oboe Concerto]
Prelude in B minor [after Bach BWV 855 transcribed Alexander SILOTI (1863-1945)
Jesu, Joy of man’s Desiring [from Cantata No.147 transcribed by Myra HESS (1890-1965)
Christoph Willibald GLUCK (1714-1787)

Mélodie arranged by Giovanni SGAMBATI (1841-1914)
Franz LISZT (1811-1886)

Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel’s Almira
Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)

Variations on a theme of Corelli Op.42
Suite (after the Partita in E major for solo violin BWV 1006 by Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Alessio Bax (piano)
Recorded at The Maltings, Snape, May 2004
WARNER 2564 61695-2 [69.18]

This is a well-constructed, artful programme and it reveals Bax as a thoughtful, imaginative and technically accomplished player. It’s nevertheless startling to hear his quite abrupt articulation of the opening Bach-Busoni, with staccato phrasing and superfine clarity, qualities that become modified and warmed through increasing tonal amplification and grandeur. Similarly the Bach-Marcello shows real perception in pacing and if the slow movement is not especially moving – well, this is often very much a question of taste. For my taste though it’s not. Whilst not in the Lipatti class his Bach-Hess has some imaginative weight of bass pointing – the left hand mobile, alive and balancing – and in the Gluck-Sgambati we reach the first plateau. This is really fine playing – almost Petri-like in its luminous romanticism. What I particularly admire is the way in which Bax brings out middle voices in a piece often weighted towards bass or treble sonorities – he doesn’t just pay attention to a spun legato or a prayerful bass; this is colouristically and tonally an enveloping performance.

Good, even trills animate the Liszt – quite expressively contoured this, delicately shaded as well – and his Rachmaninov-Bach is idiomatic and full of control. When it comes to the fearsome challenges of the Corelli Variations we find Bax is equal to the demands. Technique, stretches, rhythmic problems, co-ordination – all are tested to the full. If he doesn’t to the fullest measure convey its breadth then we can say that the coda is rapt and he serves notice as to the kind of musician he has already become.

Sound quality is warm, not cloying. Like the playing.

Jonathan Woolf

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