Author Topic: Sir Arnold Bax  (Read 130152 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14524
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #960 on: September 16, 2019, 01:24:15 PM »
I endorse these comments. When I think of 'epic', Bax is one of the composers who come to my mind. His music, or at least much of it, is imbued with that legendary/atmospheric/epic feel to it that I find so irresistible and fantastic. Maybe gripping not all the time, but epic, oh yes! Much more so. The 5th Symphony is really a winner in that regard. The last time when I listened to it, it blew me away. It's so consistently wonderful from the very beginning. And that slow movement is a real stunner. I consider that symphony one of my favorite British symphonies, along with VW's 2nd, Walton's 1st, Arnold's 5th, Elgar's 2nd and Brian's 1st.
What a great list of favourite British symphonies!
I've probably asked you before Cesar but do you know the third symphonies of Arnell and Bate? Both excellent in my opinion.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline Irons

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1002
  • Location: Surrey, UK
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #961 on: September 16, 2019, 11:58:15 PM »
I endorse these comments. When I think of 'epic', Bax is one of the composers who come to my mind. His music, or at least much of it, is imbued with that legendary/atmospheric/epic feel to it that I find so irresistible and fantastic. Maybe gripping not all the time, but epic, oh yes! Much more so. The 5th Symphony is really a winner in that regard. The last time when I listened to it, it blew me away. It's so consistently wonderful from the very beginning. And that slow movement is a real stunner. I consider that symphony one of my favorite British symphonies, along with VW's 2nd, Walton's 1st, Arnold's 5th, Elgar's 2nd and Brian's 1st.

I think for a symphony to be "epic" is not to do with length or size but content. RVW "London" is not epic as it is a work concerning the human condition by a Londoner in London. I find Sibelius epic and the most epic symphony the shortest, the 7th. Mahler although epic in scale, I do not. Bax does concern himself with similar subjects as Sibelius and I was forcibly reminded of the latter in the wonderful first movement of Bax's 5th Symphony. Bax writes of seas and forests and he would not compose a "Cockaigne" or similar. So epic in my book.
The familiar rat-a-tat of enemy machine-guns joined the melee. It was like an orchestra from hell, it’s tune being played out by the instruments of death. - The Sun Will Always Shine, John R McKay.

Offline Biffo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1430
  • Location: United Kingdom
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #962 on: September 17, 2019, 12:12:00 AM »
I think for a symphony to be "epic" is not to do with length or size but content. RVW "London" is not epic as it is a work concerning the human condition by a Londoner in London. I find Sibelius epic and the most epic symphony the shortest, the 7th. Mahler although epic in scale, I do not. Bax does concern himself with similar subjects as Sibelius and I was forcibly reminded of the latter in the wonderful first movement of Bax's 5th Symphony. Bax writes of seas and forests and he would not compose a "Cockaigne" or similar. So epic in my book.

In 1937 Bax wrote A London Pageant for the Coronation of George VI. The booklet notes for the Chandos album conducted by Martyn Brabbins say 'The music is much more than a march and trio. Falling into various descriptive and evocative passages, it is more a tone poem than a pure concert march'. Sounds pretty similar to Cockaigne to me.

Bax has several works with  'Legend' in the title but is Tintagel that I would describe as 'epic'.

Offline SymphonicAddict

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2416
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #963 on: September 17, 2019, 10:49:47 AM »
What a great list of favourite British symphonies!
I've probably asked you before Cesar but do you know the third symphonies of Arnell and Bate? Both excellent in my opinion.

Yes, Jeffrey, I do! Almost all the Arnell symphonies are magnificent IMO, even his last one (and unfinished IIRC) Mandela has appealing qualities. Bate's 2 only recorded symphonies meant excitement and pleasure when I listened to them, but I am with you in preferring the 3rd.

Offline SymphonicAddict

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2416
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #964 on: September 17, 2019, 10:53:37 AM »
I think for a symphony to be "epic" is not to do with length or size but content. RVW "London" is not epic as it is a work concerning the human condition by a Londoner in London. I find Sibelius epic and the most epic symphony the shortest, the 7th. Mahler although epic in scale, I do not. Bax does concern himself with similar subjects as Sibelius and I was forcibly reminded of the latter in the wonderful first movement of Bax's 5th Symphony. Bax writes of seas and forests and he would not compose a "Cockaigne" or similar. So epic in my book.

Definitely 'epic' has different meanings and interpretations depending on each. For me, Mahler is epic, mostly in his symphonies 2 and 6 (my favorites btw). In general, I consider epic when there is a sort of depiction of something heroic or there is intense struggle through the music, often resulting in good triumphing over evil.

Offline kyjo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1920
  • Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
  • Location: United States
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #965 on: October 18, 2019, 09:19:04 AM »
Lately I was quite pleasantly surprised, even blown away, by Bax's Concertino for Piano and Orchestra (1939). Bax never orchestrated it, but fortunately Bax scholar Graham Parlett produced a very plausible orchestration which exhibits all the Baxian trademarks (prominent tuba lines, tambourine and snare drum rattles, etc.). It's much more a "concerto" than a "concertino", being epic in scope and intention. It's a superbly dark, dramatic, and imaginative work with lots of memorable ideas, even if the finale isn't completely convincing. It's also, in my view, Bax's most successful concertante work - I find some of the others rather discursive and unmemorable, though I enjoy Winter Legends and the Concertante for Piano Left-Hand well enough. It's available on the below Somm CD in an excellent performance and coupled quite appropriately with Ireland's haunting Legend - which it is strikingly similar to in mood - and his PC. Highly recommended to all Bax fans:



https://youtu.be/vzQ82OK1B38
« Last Edit: October 18, 2019, 10:03:40 AM by kyjo »
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline SymphonicAddict

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 2416
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #966 on: October 18, 2019, 11:02:42 AM »
Lately I was quite pleasantly surprised, even blown away, by Bax's Concertino for Piano and Orchestra (1939). Bax never orchestrated it, but fortunately Bax scholar Graham Parlett produced a very plausible orchestration which exhibits all the Baxian trademarks (prominent tuba lines, tambourine and snare drum rattles, etc.). It's much more a "concerto" than a "concertino", being epic in scope and intention. It's a superbly dark, dramatic, and imaginative work with lots of memorable ideas, even if the finale isn't completely convincing. It's also, in my view, Bax's most successful concertante work - I find some of the others rather discursive and unmemorable, though I enjoy Winter Legends and the Concertante for Piano Left-Hand well enough. It's available on the below Somm CD in an excellent performance and coupled quite appropriately with Ireland's haunting Legend - which it is strikingly similar to in mood - and his PC. Highly recommended to all Bax fans:



https://youtu.be/vzQ82OK1B38

This is promising because I also know practically all his concertante works and there are just a few of them I really like, being Winter Legends one of them, though not strictly concertante. The Cello Concerto is mildly good. The Fantasia for viola and orchestra has very nice music.

Offline vandermolen

  • Silver Subscriber
  • *
  • *
  • Posts: 14524
  • Location: Rotherfield, Sussex, UK
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #967 on: October 18, 2019, 11:41:58 AM »
Lately I was quite pleasantly surprised, even blown away, by Bax's Concertino for Piano and Orchestra (1939). Bax never orchestrated it, but fortunately Bax scholar Graham Parlett produced a very plausible orchestration which exhibits all the Baxian trademarks (prominent tuba lines, tambourine and snare drum rattles, etc.). It's much more a "concerto" than a "concertino", being epic in scope and intention. It's a superbly dark, dramatic, and imaginative work with lots of memorable ideas, even if the finale isn't completely convincing. It's also, in my view, Bax's most successful concertante work - I find some of the others rather discursive and unmemorable, though I enjoy Winter Legends and the Concertante for Piano Left-Hand well enough. It's available on the below Somm CD in an excellent performance and coupled quite appropriately with Ireland's haunting Legend - which it is strikingly similar to in mood - and his PC. Highly recommended to all Bax fans:



https://youtu.be/vzQ82OK1B38

I largely agree with you Kyle and really enjoy that disc as well. However, I do like the Symphonic Variations, which I prefer to Winter Legends. I like the John Ireland couplings too in the disc above. Actually I prefer the 'Legend' to the much fabled Piano Concerto, possibly as a result of over-exposure to the latter.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

Offline kyjo

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1920
  • Kurt Atterberg (1887-1974)
  • Location: United States
Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #968 on: October 18, 2019, 07:58:53 PM »
I largely agree with you Kyle and really enjoy that disc as well. However, I do like the Symphonic Variations, which I prefer to Winter Legends. I like the John Ireland couplings too in the disc above. Actually I prefer the 'Legend' to the much fabled Piano Concerto, possibly as a result of over-exposure to the latter.

I also prefer Ireland's Legend to his PC. I'll have to give the Bax Symphonic Variations another try, because they haven't resonated much with me in the past.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff