The Ax man cometh

The latest guest on Zsolt Bognar’s Living the Classical Life is the infinitely charming Emmanuel Ax.

‘I won’t agree to play anything unless I have a really lot of lead time,’ he confides.

‘I’m making the same mistakes that I always made,’ he adds, ‘but I keep trying.’

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  • ‘Living the Classical Life’ is a great series. Full of treasures. And Ax always comes across as a gentlemen, self effacing and humble. In addition to that he is a wonderful, wonderful pianist.

  • Once saw him getting off a London Underground train carrying two heavy suitcases during morning rush hour. Clearly too humble to take a cab!

  • A question to Zsolt Bognar:

    When was your Steinway made and how different do you find it differs from newer ones?

    PS: Fantastic interview, as always!

  • This is so good, so relevant and credible, understandably from such a gentleman and thoroughly credentialed artist. Manny is the type of pianist you come back to again and again. He always takes you right to the heart of the world of whatever he’s playing and leaves you elevated at the finish. And Bravo to Zsolt for such insightful questions, the last one of real value to young pianists in a crowded field. Manny’s answer is pure gold.

    Maybe ‘Living the Classical Life’ could be on a DVD at some point? Hope so…

  • The only bad word I ever heard about EA was from Sir Harry Birtwistle. He wrote a piece called ‘The Ax Manual’ for piano and percussion (commissioned by EA) and grumbled that EA only ever played it once.

    • Tangentially related: when we had Frederica von Stade as a guest soloist, I brought my CDs of Argento’s “Casa Guidi” (recorded by her) and Danielpour’s “Elegies” (based on letters from her father to her mother, before she was born), both pieces written for her. She gushed praise all over the Argento while signing the CD, then continued to heap praise on it while signing the Danielpour without comment. Much too nice to actually say anything, but it was clear which work was closer to her heart.

  • What a joy to listen to Emanuel Ax, so unaffected and honest — so very human! This is a wonderful series — many thanks!

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