Pianist Alessio Bax with the SB Chamber Orchestra, directed by Heiichiro Ohyama at Lobero Theatre, Tuesday March 17, 7:30 pm.
You’d be hard-pressed to find any blarney when Italian-born pianist Alessio Bax joins the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra (SBCO) on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day—unless you count the craft beer tasting event afterwards, open to subscribers. The first half of the concert, however, belongs to conductor Heiichiro Ohyama and the orchestra, and will celebrate music from or about the British Isles, including works by Frank Bridge and Frederick Delius, as well as Felix Mendelssohn’s deeply affecting The Hebrides. But the second half has nothing to do with St. Paddy, and everything to do with Bax, and the fulfillment of his dream to perform Brahms with the SBCO. According to Bax, Brahms’ first piano concerto reveals a subtle level of new meaning when played with the intimacy of a chamber ensemble instead of the larger orchestration that is customary. The international piano star and 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient has garnered kudos in Santa Barbara in recent years, principally due to repeated appearances with the SBCO. Late last year, UCSB Arts & Lectures brought Bax to the Granada stage with violinist Joshua Bell, for a memorable performance that included a masterful articulation of Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No.1 for Violin and Piano. Bax spoke with me from his home in New York on March 3.
Violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Alessio Bax in Recital
Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures
Granada Theatre, Tuesday Oct 28, 7pm
“The highest praise you could give to a composer like Bach was to take and make your own arrangement; it was sort of an homage to that composer and to his work. And so it wasn’t considered sacrilegious to do something like that. It’s only recently, I think in the past 50 years, that there’s been this hesitance to alter music, with this quest for “authenticity” reigning supreme.” Joshua Bell
With next week’s performance by Joshua Bell, Santa Barbara will have twice hosted the renowned violinist in a span of only seven months. But I don’t think anybody is getting tired of him anytime soon. For one, he’s Joshua Bell, after all! And two, the concerts show very different sides of his artistry. Last March he came here with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Orchestra (courtesy of CAMA), whereas Tuesday he will play an intimate recital with Italian pianist Alessio Bax (courtesy of UCSB Arts & Lectures). Despite being only 46 years young, the American violinist and conductor has recorded critically acclaimed albums for nearly three decades. Bell has served as Music Director for the Academy of St Martin in the Fields since 2011—the first person after founder Sir Neville Marriner to hold that position in the 55 year-old ensemble. Continue reading →