What are you looking for in pieces of new piano music? Emanuel Ax

Emanuel Ax
Photo by Lois Greenfield

There are so many styles and possibilities in the music of today that I cannot intelligently compile a “wish list” of characteristics. I try to listen to new music in general, and look for pieces of composers that appeal to me.

I have had the privilege of premiering a few works that I love very much; they were the first works that the respective composers had written for the piano. In general, I believe that a composer with a voice will find a way to make that voice work with almost any instrument, and it is up to the pianist to find a way to translate the message.

Ideally, I am able to work with the composer and discuss practical issues—I have found a remarkable interest and flexibility on the part of most composers when faced with performing difficulties, and sometimes the new solution is a further testament to their skill.