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Variations


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Variations + Schubert: Piano Sonatas:  No. 16 in A Minor D845 & No. 21 in B Flat Major D960
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Product details

  • Performer: Emanuel Ax
  • Audio CD (4 Mar. 2013)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Sony Music Classical
  • ASIN: B009PDO932
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,178 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Introduzione col basso del tema. Allegretto vivace - Tema
2. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 1
3. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 2
4. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 3
5. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 4
6. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 5
7. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 6
8. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 7
9. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 8
10. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 9
11. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 10
12. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 11
13. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 12
14. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 13
15. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 14
16. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Variation 15
17. Variations and Fugue for Piano in E-flat Major, Op. 35 ("Eroica Variations") / Finale. Alla Fuga: Allegro Con Brio
18. Variations In F Minor (Sonata) Hob. XVII:6
19. Symphonic Etudes Op. 13 / Thema: Andante
20. Symphonic Etudes Op. 13 / Etude 1
See all 34 tracks on this disc

Product Description

Emanuel Ax (b.1949) is a Grammy award-winning American pianist, widely considered to be one of the best-known concert pianists of our time. This disc, 'Variations', features three works never previously recorded by this internationally acclaimed pianist including significant sets of variations by Beethoven, Copland, Haydn & Schumann.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Hunt on 23 May 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This CD is worth buying for the Beethoven variations alone. Right from the very first chord the quality of the perfomance and the delicacy and subtlety of the rendition delight. I have had the CD with me in the car and have listened to it on several occasions and each time I hear more. The end of the Eroica symphony encapsulates the triumph of optimism over despair and these variations capture that spirit of hope. I thoroughly recommend it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By shoster the coster on 17 May 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Ax gives great thought to these performances . They are beautifully played and well recorded .It is a treat so try it .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Variations with Emanuel Ax 30 May 2013
By P. Adrian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This recent release by renowned American virtuoso Emanuel Ax is devoted to some warhorses in the piano repertoire. Three composers, three variation-works: Beethoven's "Eroica", Schumann's Symphonic Etudes and Haydn's F minor Variations. Although Mr. Ax's keyboard command is flawless and the recorded sound marvelous, I must admit this recording is a remarkable but not a breath-taking one. For instance, in the Schumann case I find an older version of Maurizio Pollini as an unmatched benchmark, while "Eroica" Variations received its classical climax in Alfred Brendel's interpretation (both still available in the market).

When it comes to Emanuel Ax, for me he is a brilliant interpreter of Chopin. His version of the Chopin concertante works (achieved on a historical piano Erard) remain as exquisite samples of musical refinement and romantic inspiration.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
deeply disappointing 4 Mar. 2013
By Stanley Crowe - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The first thing I did after listening to the Eroica Variations on this disc was to haul out my copy of Gilels's 1982 recording on DG. The comparison wasn't flattering to this new recording. Then I hauled out Ax's recording of the Chopin concertos from about 1980 (with Ormandy, on RCA), and again the newer disc suffered by comparison. The Chopin concerto disc is a delight. What's the problem with this new one? To begin with, it's recorded at too high a level, with the microphone far too close. The effect is of no soft playing at all. You can turn down the volume control, of course, but that doesn't really change the perception that the music is coming at you at a single dynamic level. Related to this is the fact that the piano doesn't sound beautiful -- it sounds percussive and noisy in the lower reaches and tinkly and glassy in the higher. That Ax can command a beautiful tone AND dynamic variety is evident in the Chopin recording already alluded to (as well as in some of his chamber work with Yo-Yo Ma), but here there's nothing like that. Compare Gilels's account of the final Eroica variations and Ax's, and it's hard to avoid the conclusion that Ax has to bear some of the responsibility for the rather insensitive impression that his account makes. Ax seems a bit more attuned to the Schumann Symphonic Etudes, but the impression remains of a sound that is just too much in one's face. A big disappointment, then -- Ax is a fine player, and if you want to sample his art at its best, try to pick up that Chopin recording or (if Beethoven's what you want) the Cello Sonatas with Ma.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Terrific Beethoven; good Haydn and Schumann, too. 22 Feb. 2013
By John J. Puccio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Not surprisingly, given the pianist's unassuming style, Ax gives us Beethoven in these interpretations rather than Ax. That is, he does not impose any idiosyncratic gestures of his own but keeps the music as close as I imagine Beethoven intended it. The more straightforward Ax plays, the more lovely the music becomes.

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
**** 1/2 Beautifully poised yet energetic pianism, especially in the Beethoven and the best parts of the Schumann 1 July 2013
By Santa Fe Listener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I imagine that any CD from Emanuel Ax will divide opinion, because he has become an established icon on PBS - a kind of national pianist - while at the same time the qualities that brought him to this position make his playing too conventional, predictable, and "official" for those of us who expect more. This summer Ax turned 64, not old by any measure, and his technique remains intact. I've even felt a spark of hope from two recent live Beethoven concerto performances, including the Emperor, where he seemed more animated and involved. That spark shines through this set of "Eroica" Variations, which is the highlight of a recital dedicated to the variation form.

It's not very appealing as a program concept in the concert hall, where the start-and-stop of multiple variations gets monotonous. But at home we can pause where we like. I wasn't remotely tempted to pause in the Beethoven, where Ax's playing is sparkling and light throughout. He doesn't take is cue from the "heroic" sobriquet, preferring to scamper rather than shake the earth. Richter gives a more powerful interpretation, turning this score into a dry run for the quirkiness and thorniness of the Diabelli Var., but Ax doesn't think that Beethoven was there yet. He makes the case for Beethoven turning the variation form into something always dramatic and surprising but not yet daringly radical. Haydn would have been pleased to compose a few of the variations, and Ax's poised handling of the final fugue is classically poised, not a grand summation. (Contrary to a disgruntled earlier reviewer, I found nothing to complain about in the clear, detailed, close-up sound, or any fault in the piano as an instrument.)

Beethoven has been home ground for Ax over the decades, and so has Haydn. Pianists have a soft spot for Haydn's piano music that isn't shred, I suspect, by most of the listening public. In his hands, piano writing shows much invention and charm, but the dynamic range is constrained, as it is in Mozart's sonatas, and as Ax points out, the appeal of an intricate work like the Variation in F minor, which lasts 12 min., would have been more rational than emotional to an 18th-century audience. The minor key adds some wistful shading to the music, but Haydn doesn't go any farther in darkening the mood. Ax plays with expertness, ad I doubt that anyone could wish for better.

He seems less at home in Schumann's grand, sweeping Symphonic Variations, where full-blown romanticism takes the field. After stating the theme is a prosaic way, with no hint of anticipation, Ax approaches the variations as individual units, like a separate beads on a necklace. (He includes three of the five later variations that Schumann added.) There's some thumping, as in Etude 4, and jerkiness, as in Etude 5, that's unexpected from Ax. What redeems the performance is that when he feels inspired, Ax tosses off a particular variation with real enthusiasm: I'd say that about half of them, including the last three, reminded me of Ax's reputation as a superb Chopinist. This is a reading that gets better as it goes along. Without ranking it near Richter's flights of passion and imagination, I was often engaged in the thrills of Schumann's rhapsodic writing. This would be a good recording to compare with the often praised Perahia. My guess is that Ax shows more spontaneity and warmth at his best. If only he didn't take his time gathering momentum.
Only Like Ax Can 18 Feb. 2015
By S.K. Bigou - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Sweet and melodious; a great interpreter of Ludwig Von.
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