Archive for the ‘Alessio Bax’ Category

SOUNDTRACKJAN VOGLER AND ALESSIO BAX-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #128 (December 16, 2020).

This is the third of three Tiny Desk Home Concerts to honor Beethoven’s 250th birth anniversary. This was my favorite. The first was just piano the second was a quartet of strings.  But this one, a combination of the two, was the most exciting.  I love the way the cello (Vogler) played off of the piano (Bax).

For this Tiny Desk (home) concert, we pay a visit to the doctor’s office. Actually, the venue is called Rare Violins of New York and it’s something of a second home to cellist Jan Vogler, who pops in frequently to have the experts give his 1708 Stradivarius cello a thorough checkup. If your multi-million-dollar fiddle has a cough or the sniffles, or even needs a full-blown restoration, Rare Violins, which sits just a block away from Carnegie Hall, can help. The firm also has a lovely music room, kitted out with a fine piano – something Vogler lacks at his place.  With help from the fine pianist Alessio Bax, Vogler makes a convincing case for Beethoven as one of the great heroes of the cello. Beethoven, whose 250th birthday falls this week, wrote five cello sonatas, plus other works for the instrument, which, before his time, was primarily relegated to beefing up the bass line in various chamber music situations.

Beethoven, in essence, liberated the cello. Listen to how it dances and struts in the opening scherzo from the Sonata in A, Op. 69.

“Cello Sonata in A, Op. 69: II. Scherzo” starts with a piano and the cello quickly jumps back in.  The song builds and swells and then quiets down to a pretty piano and cello melody.

Like Jonathan Biss, these two are very chatty. They are mostly chatty with each other, but they do direct their answers to the camera sometimes too.

Up next is a short piece from the beginning of his career “12 Variations on a Theme from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus: Variation XI: Adagio.”   In this piece the cello “sings sweetly.”  Vogler says that Beethoven was friendly with a fantastic cellist and he may have inspired the composer to write more pieces for the cello.

Although the piece starts with a lovely piano intro and has several moments of just piano, the cello adds so much to it.

Before the final song the two talk about how the pandemic has changed them and what they are looking forward to doing when it is over.

And finally there’s the opening to Beethoven’s last cello sonata, which Bax — whose role is far more than just an accompanist here — says is compact with emotion, yet “stretches the boundaries” for the instrument.

“Cello Sonata in D, Op. 102: I. Allegro con brio” feels like a call and response–two instruments in conversation.  And they had a lot to say.

[READ: December 20, 2020] The Disaster Tourist

In continuing with my around-the-world reading, I picked up this novel that was originally written in Korean (translated by Lizzie Buehler).

This story sounded really weird and interesting.

Yona works for a company called Jungle which specializes in offering vacations in areas that have suffered a disaster.

On a disaster trip, travellers reactions usually went through these stages

shock; sympathy and compassion, maybe discomfortable gratefulness at their own lives; a sense of responsibility that they’d learned a lesson and maybe a feeling of superiority for having survived where others didn’t.

For instance, a tsunami had hit Jinhae–in an instant everything was underwater.  Yona travelled there because Jungle currently didn’t offer any tours there.  But they would soon.  Yona would give donations and offer condolences to the community.  Then she would create a vacation package that involved viewing the aftermath along with volunteer work.

Yona had worked at Jungle for over ten years.  She was something of a star.  But apparently, her star was starting to fade because she had all of sudden been asked to handle some customer service phone calls–never a good sign.

Things got even worse when a supervisor named Kim got on the elevator with her.  He said:

Johnson is asking me to send my greetings to you.
Johnson.  My Johnson. Kim pointed to his crotch.

At this point I had to wonder.  Is this level of harassment something that happens in Korea?  Is this  shocking incident for any reader?  Is this a hyper real fiction in which everything is just a bit beyond reality?  I don’t know.

Then Kim grabs her bottom and put his hand in her blouse.  The gesture suggested that Kim didn’t care if he was caught.

Yona was upset, but not because of the sexual assault. Because Kim was known to only target has-beens. (more…)

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sleepanna  SOUNDTRACK: ALESSIO BAX-Tiny Desk Concert #541 (June 17, 2016).

alessio2Alessio Bax is a pianist and a new father.  His daughter Mila is 22 months old and, a first for Tiny Desk, she is visible through the whole show.  And, no matter  Alessio is playing, all eyes are on Mila because she is completely adorable (and very well behaved).

In honor of his new daughter, Bax plays three pieces which are essentially lullabies.

Perhaps in honor of NPR/PBS, Mila is playing with a cookie monster doll for most of the set and she is being quite cuddly with it–even putting it on her head and resting it on the piano.

Introducing the first piece, J.S. Bach’s (arr. Petri): “Sheep May Safely Graze,” Bax says that Bach asks the pianist to do three things at the same time which is similar to a new parents life.

It is a lovely (somewhat familiar) piece with some beautiful melodies.

alessioWhen the song is one Mila smiles very big and claps along with everyone else and says “papa”

He acknowledges her and says, “She’s my fan #1.”

Lucille Chung, Bax’s wife and Mila’s mom duets with him on the second piece, Brahms: Waltz No. 15 in A-flat major, Op. 39.  They share the piano, which is pretty cool.  As she sits down, Mila says, “Mama too,” which wins over everyone.  Chung takes the high notes while Bax plays the lower notes. It’s a brief song, and very sweet.  Once again when the applause starts, she happily claps along.

Bax says, “We should have her play something–it will be her debut.”

He introduces the final song, Rachmaninoff: Prelude No. 4 in D, Op. 23, but before he starts, Mila says “no practicing” which he says they deal with all the time.

The song begins as a kind of lullaby and then gets much more “hot-blooded” with a stormy middle section that eventually returns to a dreamy ending.  Mila has a small keyboard of her own.  She starts “playing” it, although it proves to be a little too loud and her mom takes it away.  The song does indeed get a little intense in the middle, but is overall quite lovely.  And as it finishes she says papa piano and then beams with a big smile as she applauds with everyone else.

[READ: March 1, 2016] Sleep Tight, Anna Banana

I didn’t realize that this book was a translation at first.  I also didn’t read the biographies of the two people involved. It says that the author Dominique decided to write picture book when her adult son Alexis became a picture-book artist.  So his success inspired her to write these books.  They were translated by Mark Siegel.

We seem to read a lot of translated picture books in our house. Sometimes the very premise behind them is so unfamiliar it’s obvious they were not created by Americans.  Other times the books feel just a little …off somehow.  Like in their rhythm or something.

This book never really came to life for me. (more…)

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