Fauré and Brahms Programme:
Brahms: Scherzo from “F-A-E” Sonata for Violin and Piano
Fauré: Quartet for Piano & Strings in g, Op. 45
Brahms: Quartet for Piano & Strings in A, Op. 26
(All programme is subject to change.)
Copland called Fauré the “French Brahms”, an apt analogy when one considers the dense textures, the rhapsodic stringing together of ideas, the fastidious craftsmanship and emotional, yet restrained, musical expression of both composers. But whereas Brahms sweeps us away with the earthy passion of works such as his second Piano Quartet, Fauré’s magic resides in the luminous, sensuous and elusive beauty of his music. His second Piano Quartet, as one writer pointed out, is perhaps the finest embodiment in music of the aesthetic so memorably proposed by Baudelaire when he wrote: “There we find nothing else but grace and measure. Richness, quietness, and pleasure.” Prefacing these two monumental works for piano and strings is a dazzling Scherzo by Brahms for Violin and Piano, which, with its boisterous energy and rhythmic vitality, remains one of the composer’s most instantly recognizable compositions.
The remarkable young pianist, Alessio Bax, praised by Gramophone for the “hypnotic intensity” of his playing, is joined in this not-to-be missed program by esteemed violinist Ani Kafavian, the brilliant Yura Lee on viola, and the incomparable artistry of Paul Watkins on cello.
Alessio Bax, piano
Pianist Alessio Bax, First Prize winner at the Leeds and Hamamatsu international piano competitions, is a 2009 Avery Fisher Career Grant recipient. He has appeared as soloist with over 100 orchestras worldwide, including the London Philharmonic, Houston Symphony, NHK Symphony in Japan, St. Petersburg Philharmonic under Yuri Temirkanov, and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with Sir Simon Rattle. Recent highlights include return engagements with the Dallas Symphony under Jaap van Zweden and the Royal Philharmonic on tour, performances with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra under Hans Graf and London’s Southbank Sinfonia led by Vladimir Ashkenazy, tours with Joshua Bell, and concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center in both New York and Boston. Among festival appearances are London’s International Piano Series, England’s Aldeburgh and Bath festivals, Switzerland’s Verbier, the Risør Festival in Norway, Germany’s Ruhr Klavier-Festival and BeethovenFest, and the U.S.’s Bravo! Vail, Music@Menlo, and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Bax’s acclaimed discography includes Beethoven’s “Hammerklavier” and “Moonlight” Sonatas (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”); Bax & Chung, featuring Stravinsky’s four-hand Pétrouchka; Mozart’s Piano Concertos K. 491 and K. 595; Alessio Bax Plays Brahms (Gramophone “Critic’s Choice”); Rachmaninov: Preludes and Melodies (American Record Guide “Critics’ Choice”); Bach Transcribed; and Baroque Reflections (Gramophone “Editor’s Choice”). At age 14, he graduated with top honors from the conservatory of his hometown, Bari, Italy, and after further studies in Europe moved to the U.S. in 1994. A Steinway artist, Mr. Bax resides in New York City with his wife, pianist Lucille Chung, and their daughter.
Ani Kafavian, violin
This is violinist Ani Kavafian’s 35th year performing with The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Touring the United States, Canada, and Europe, she performs with the Kavafian/Schub/Shifrin Trio, the Da Salo String Trio, her sister Ida Kavafian, and the Triton Horn Trio. She is the concertmaster and a frequent soloist with the New Haven Symphony and is in the process of performing the cycle of the complete Mozart concertos with the orchestra. As president of the Young Concert Artist Alumni Association, she took part in the organization’s 50th anniversary concert in 2011. Her solo career has included performances with the New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. Her recordings include the Bach sonatas with Kenneth Cooper, Mozart sonatas with Jorge Federico Osorio, and Justin Dello Joio’s Piano Trio with Carter Brey and Jeremy Denk. This past summer she took part in eight music festivals, including OK Mozart, Chamber Music Northwest, Music@Menlo, Bridgehampton, Norfolk, and Music From Angel Fire. Together with Carter Brey, she continues as artistic director of Mostly Music, the chamber music series in New Jersey. As a full professor at Yale University, she is enjoying the many successes of her students as they secure positions with major orchestras and as teachers at universities around the world. Ms. Kavafian plays a 1736 Stradivarius violin and is married to artist Bernard Mindich.
Yura Lee, viola
Violinist/violist Yura Lee is a multi-faceted musician, as soloist and as a chamber musician, and one of the very few that is equally virtuosic in both violin and viola. She has performed with major orchestras including those of New York, Chicago, Baltimore, Cleveland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. She has given recitals in London’s Wigmore Hall, Vienna’s Musikverein, Salzburg’s Mozarteum, Brussels’ Palais des Beaux-Arts, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. At age 12, she became the youngest artist ever to receive the Debut Artist of the Year prize at the Performance Today awards given by National Public Radio. She is a recipient of the 2007 Avery Fisher Career Grant, and the first prize winner of the 2013 ARD Competition. She has received numerous other international prizes, including top prizes in the Mozart, Indianapolis, Hannover, Kreisler, Bashmet, and Paganini competitions. Her CD Mozart in Paris with Reinhard Goebel and the Bayerische Kammerphilharmonie, received the prestigious Diapason d’Or Award. As a chamber musician, she regularly takes part in the festivals of Marlboro, Salzburg, Verbier, and Caramoor. Her main teachers included Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Miriam Fried, Paul Biss, Thomas Riebl, Ana Chumachenko, and Nobuko Imai. Ms. Lee is professor of violin at the Hochschule für Musik in Dresden, Germany. She divides her time between New York City and Berlin. Ms. Lee is a former member of Chamber Music Society Two, as both violinist and violist.
Paul Watkins, cello
Paul Watkins enjoys a distinguished career both as a cellist and as a conductor, and in the 2009-10 season became the first ever music director of the English Chamber Orchestra. As solo cellist he performs regularly with all the major British orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, London's Philharmonia, and City of Birmingham Symphony. Outside the UK he has performed with the Netherlands Philharmonic, Melbourne Symphony, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and the RAI National Symphony Orchestra of Turin. Recent highlights include his debut at Carnegie Hall performing Brahms’ Double Concerto with Daniel Hope, and appearances with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, Philharmonia, and Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. He also premiered (and was the dedicatee of) Mark-Anthony Turnage’s new concerto with the Royal Flemish, Tampere, and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig. A dedicated chamber musician, he was a member of the Nash Ensemble from 1997 to 2013, and joined the Emerson String Quartet in 2013. He has given solo recitals at the Wigmore Hall, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, South Bank Centre, Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, and Queens Hall in Edinburgh. In 2009 he signed an exclusive contract with Chandos Records. Recent releases include the Delius, Elgar, and Lutoslawski concertos, and discs of British music for cello and piano. In 2014 he was appointed artistic director of the Great Lakes Music Festival of Detroit. Mr. Watkins plays a cello made by Domenico Montagnana and Matteo Goffriller in Venice, c.1730.