Emanuel Ax Plays Chopin, SchumannJanuary 12 2010
Saw Emanuel Ax in recital on Sunday. The program had a Fantasy theme, with the Chopin Polonaise-Fantasy in A-flat Major, some Chopin Mazurkas, the Chopin Andante spianato and Grande polonaise brilliante, the Schumann Fantasiestucke, and the Schumann Fantasy in C. Overall, it was a great experience considering I didn’t know any of the pieces.
First of all, Ax is a lot older than I would have thought. That didn’t stop him from starting with tremendous energy in the Polonaise-Fantasy. I don’t know too much about pianists, but it was refreshing to see someone that just played the music and didn’t try to make their movements/actions the focal point. There was no humming from Ax or excessive orgasm-type facial gestures. He was a solid player and created the right atmosphere for each piece. He is especially good at something that violinists value in playing Bach - he is able to borrow and make up time. For example, if he slows down a little in the beginning of a passage, he makes up for it later in the passage.
Ax got one of the louder and longer standing ovations I’ve ever seen from a Chicago audience. He came back onstage 4 times, with the fourth leading to an encore. My friend told me the encore was definitely Chopin, but I have no idea what it could have been (maybe a Nocturne?). Overall, a good experience and outside my usual comfort zone for classical music.
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