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Alessio Bax: Tiny Desk Concert

The practice of lulling a child to sleep through music must be about the oldest tradition imaginable. All parents have wanted their children to sleep at some point, if only to have a little peace and quiet — and to plot strategies for getting their own shuteye.

Pianist Alessio Bax knows all about sleep — and lack thereof. He's a first-time parent, and his 22-month-old daughter Mila is, like any child that age, a handful, not to mention impossibly cute.

For Father's Day, we invited Bax and his daughter behind Bob Boilen's desk for a few lullabies from the award-winning pianist's recent album Lullabies For Mila. Sensing attention from the crowd and the cameras, Mila is anything but sleepy. On the contrary, with her own running commentary — and some fast fingering on a toy keyboard — she does her best to steal the show.

Bax begins with a rendition of J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze," explaining that the composer asks the performer to do three things at once, which is not unlike the duties a new parent must juggle. Mila's mom, Lucille Chung, joins her husband at the piano for a brief Brahms Waltz (Op. 39 in A-flat) often referred to as a lullaby. As if on cue, Mila eagerly introduces Chung with a sweet "Mama, too." Bax closes with a ravishing Prelude by Rachmaninoff. As the undulating music begins to heat up, Mila pounds away at her own mini-keyboard — that is, until Mom plucks the toy from her lap.

Lullabies For Mila is available now. (iTunes) (Amazon)

Set List

  • J.S. Bach (arr. Petri): "Sheep May Safely Graze"
  • Brahms: Waltz No. 15 in A-flat major, Op. 39*
  • Rachmaninoff: Prelude No. 4 in D, Op. 23
  • * with pianist Lucille Chung

    Credits

    Producers: Tom Huizenga, Niki Walker; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Niki Walker, Kara Frame; Production Assistant: Jackson Sinnenberg; Photo: Brandon Chew/NPR.

    For more Tiny Desk concerts, subscribe to our podcast.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Tom Huizenga is a producer for NPR Music. He contributes a wide range of stories about classical music to NPR's news programs and is the classical music reviewer for All Things Considered. He appears regularly on NPR Music podcasts and founded NPR's classical music blog Deceptive Cadence in 2010.