Author Topic: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?  (Read 17653 times)

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Offline kyjo

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #140 on: May 19, 2021, 08:10:59 AM »
I'm one of the few who like the Handley cycle. I tried for years to get into the Bax symphonies. Then I purchased the Handley box...and it finally clicked. I think it was due mainly to Handley's swifter tempos which helped me get through Bax's often meandering style. So yes, I recommend it...although I'll get little support here.

Sarge

I also really enjoy the Handley cycle for his swifter-than-normal tempi. He may not be as “atmospheric” as others, but the atmosphere in Bax’s music speaks for itself; it’s the music’s structure and forward momentum that need the conductor’s “help”, and that’s exactly what Handley gives it. Oh, and the sonics are great too!
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline kyjo

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #141 on: May 19, 2021, 08:17:00 AM »
Bax's symphonies are some of the most atmospheric, magical, colourful and epic symphonies I know. That epic element of the music appeals to me hugely. I've come to appreciate them very much over the years. As Jeffrey pointed out, I also find Nos. 4 and 7 like weaker, but the other five are just splendid. These works grow on you with repeated listens. My favorites are 6, 1 and 3, then 5 and 2, and finally 4 and 7.

That would be precisely my ranking of the Bax symphonies as well! ;) I still haven’t quite appreciated 4 and 7 as a whole, though 4 has a splendid opening movement and 7 has a most beautiful closing movement. Other Bax works which mean a great deal to me are the tone poems Tintagel, November Woods, and In Memoriam, the Piano Concertino, Piano Quintet, Harp Quintet, and String Quartet no. 1. In fact, I’d even place most of them above the symphonies in my affections. Some truly wondrous music to be found there.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Online vandermolen

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #142 on: May 19, 2021, 09:21:17 AM »
That would be precisely my ranking of the Bax symphonies as well! ;) I still haven’t quite appreciated 4 and 7 as a whole, though 4 has a splendid opening movement and 7 has a most beautiful closing movement. Other Bax works which mean a great deal to me are the tone poems Tintagel, November Woods, and In Memoriam, the Piano Concertino, Piano Quintet, Harp Quintet, and String Quartet no. 1. In fact, I’d even place most of them above the symphonies in my affections. Some truly wondrous music to be found there.
I think that I have you and Cesar to thank Kyle for alerting me to the wonders of the Piano Quintet!
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #143 on: May 19, 2021, 01:34:51 PM »
I also really enjoy the Handley cycle for his swifter-than-normal tempi. He may not be as “atmospheric” as others, but the atmosphere in Bax’s music speaks for itself; it’s the music’s structure and forward momentum that need the conductor’s “help”, and that’s exactly what Handley gives it. Oh, and the sonics are great too!

Excellent, it seems the Handley cycle has more fans here than I thought! I've made up my mind to order that set tomorrow (and will probably throw in the Daniel Jones symphonies 3+5 while I'm at it).

Offline kyjo

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #144 on: May 20, 2021, 06:13:04 AM »
I think that I have you and Cesar to thank Kyle for alerting me to the wonders of the Piano Quintet!

It’s such a great work, isn’t it? Speaking of his chamber works, I was listening to this CD yesterday and enjoying it greatly:



Many of the works featured here feature unusual instrumental combinations, which makes for some really colorful listening. Not to mention the performances are absolutely superb! Bax is one of those composers whose music can be killed by a poor performance IMO, and it’s great to hear his music being played with such passionate advocacy as it is here.
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #145 on: May 25, 2021, 08:02:07 AM »
The Handley set arrived on Monday (together with Daniel Jones symphonies 3+5 and David Matthews symphony 8  + A Vision of the Sea) and I'm really enjoying it so far! Once again I'm wondering why I waited so long to explore this composer.

There were a couple of passages in the 2nd symphony which reminded me a little of Havergal Brian, which made me wonder if Brian was influenced by Bax.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #146 on: May 25, 2021, 12:48:41 PM »
The Handley set arrived on Monday (together with Daniel Jones symphonies 3+5 and David Matthews symphony 8  + A Vision of the Sea) and I'm really enjoying it so far! Once again I'm wondering why I waited so long to explore this composer.

There were a couple of passages in the 2nd symphony which reminded me a little of Havergal Brian, which made me wonder if Brian was influenced by Bax.
Excellent! This has encouraged me to revisit the Handley boxed set.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #147 on: May 26, 2021, 12:49:10 AM »
The Handley set arrived on Monday (together with Daniel Jones symphonies 3+5 and David Matthews symphony 8  + A Vision of the Sea) and I'm really enjoying it so far! Once again I'm wondering why I waited so long to explore this composer.

There were a couple of passages in the 2nd symphony which reminded me a little of Havergal Brian, which made me wonder if Brian was influenced by Bax.

I have also just pulled the Handley cycle to work through. I am completely convinced of Bax as a major composer and love his music, so I look forward to putting this alongside the Thompson and DLJ versions. I know I am unusual amongst folk who post on GMG, but I am usually not very interested in owning numerous cycles and interpretations of the same works once I have a couple, but it will be interesting to explore these.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #148 on: May 26, 2021, 01:41:25 AM »
I have also just pulled the Handley cycle to work through. I am completely convinced of Bax as a major composer and love his music, so I look forward to putting this alongside the Thompson and DLJ versions. I know I am unusual amongst folk who post on GMG, but I am usually not very interested in owning numerous cycles and interpretations of the same works once I have a couple, but it will be interesting to explore these.

With Bax I would certainly seek out any and every disc of his music (and as much of the sheet music - preferably in original editions!) as I can.  But with many other composers I end up with multiple versions almost by accident.  I don't conciously buy them in the sense of "I must have 10 cycles of Beethoven symphonies" but somehow along the way I might end up with that number!  Mainly because with music I like a lot I'm seeking versions that add to my appreciation and understanding of the music.  I'm not sure any single performance of any great work can have all the "answers" about that work.  Also, over time my appreciation of a particular conductor/performer may wax or wane.  So with the former, I'll want to expand my knowledge of them as a conductor across a range of composers -  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is someone who I've very recently begun to fully appreciate for just what a good conductor he was....

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #149 on: May 26, 2021, 02:10:20 AM »
With Bax I would certainly seek out any and every disc of his music (and as much of the sheet music - preferably in original editions!) as I can.  But with many other composers I end up with multiple versions almost by accident.  I don't conciously buy them in the sense of "I must have 10 cycles of Beethoven symphonies" but somehow along the way I might end up with that number!  Mainly because with music I like a lot I'm seeking versions that add to my appreciation and understanding of the music.  I'm not sure any single performance of any great work can have all the "answers" about that work.  Also, over time my appreciation of a particular conductor/performer may wax or wane.  So with the former, I'll want to expand my knowledge of them as a conductor across a range of composers -  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is someone who I've very recently begun to fully appreciate for just what a good conductor he was....

I suspect, despite listening to serious music for a good many years, that my lack of musical understanding has a lot to do with it. I think if I 'understood' music rather than simply feeling it, I would be more committed to understanding which interpretation is closer to the score, or which works better with three minims and eight crotchets rather than four semibreves etc... I feel my inferiority there. I am left simply with how the music makes me feel and whether I enjoy it, which of course, has value, but is my only benchmark. For that reason, my limited capacity means that I can only process a small number of alternatives with any meaningful added value. I also don't particularly enjoy the granular drilling down into whether a performance is 'dreadful', 'woeful', 'poor', 'adequate', 'excellent', etc, probably because I don't have the verbal and musical weaponry to be able to quantify that. I find I want to understand what I am hearing in the music, rather than some of the comparatives with each performance. I find much more than that to be distracting from enjoying the nuances in each performance that I do own. I understand that is my lack and perhaps in time my competence will grow. I am also conscious that there are hundreds of composers I want to hear, and that I have a limited time to do so... if I listen to 10 cycles of Bruckner, say, then I can't listen to a cycle of Hovhaness, Diamond, Pavlova, etc etc. Rambling now.

As for gathering as much of Bax is possible, I am in. I do want to hear everything he wrote and appreciate its depth and beauty, but probably only in a couple of versions at most. I am very much enjoying the symphonies above all else, presently.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2021, 02:15:47 AM by foxandpeng »

Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #150 on: May 26, 2021, 09:22:04 AM »
I know I am unusual amongst folk who post on GMG, but I am usually not very interested in owning numerous cycles and interpretations of the same works once I have a couple, but it will be interesting to explore these.

That makes me unusual too - when both money and storage space are limited, I don't see much value in using it on music I already have, when there is still so much music I don't!

Still enjoying the Handley set - I've heard the first 6 symphonies now. No. 6 is a clear favourite so far, probably followed by No. 3.

Offline Mountain Goat

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #151 on: May 26, 2021, 10:23:09 AM »
Not only was I at the 2011 performance of the Gothic Symphony, where I had the pleasure of meeting, in the pub, some other members of this forum, but I was also at the 1980 performance conducted by Ole Schmidt, which was the first time that I heard the work.

That must have been an experience! I hope to be able to manage 2 performances of the Gothic in my lifetime - I was briefly excited a few years ago when a performance in Braunschweig was advertised, but it never went ahead. Hopefully it won't be another 30 years anyway! Hearing some of his other symphonies live occasionally would be nice too - I've managed so far to attend performances of 19 and 27, but they don't happen very often.

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #152 on: May 26, 2021, 11:16:09 AM »
With Bax I would certainly seek out any and every disc of his music (and as much of the sheet music - preferably in original editions!) as I can.  But with many other composers I end up with multiple versions almost by accident.  I don't conciously buy them in the sense of "I must have 10 cycles of Beethoven symphonies" but somehow along the way I might end up with that number!  Mainly because with music I like a lot I'm seeking versions that add to my appreciation and understanding of the music.  I'm not sure any single performance of any great work can have all the "answers" about that work.  Also, over time my appreciation of a particular conductor/performer may wax or wane.  So with the former, I'll want to expand my knowledge of them as a conductor across a range of composers -  Stanislaw Skrowaczewski is someone who I've very recently begun to fully appreciate for just what a good conductor he was....
Coincidentally, at lunch today I was talking to one of the musicians at the school where I teach. He had studied conducting with many well known figures and spoke especially highly of Skrowaczewski. I own an excellent CD of him conducting Shostakovich's 10th symphony.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Online vandermolen

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #153 on: May 26, 2021, 11:20:50 AM »
I suspect, despite listening to serious music for a good many years, that my lack of musical understanding has a lot to do with it. I think if I 'understood' music rather than simply feeling it, I would be more committed to understanding which interpretation is closer to the score, or which works better with three minims and eight crotchets rather than four semibreves etc... I feel my inferiority there. I am left simply with how the music makes me feel and whether I enjoy it, which of course, has value, but is my only benchmark. For that reason, my limited capacity means that I can only process a small number of alternatives with any meaningful added value. I also don't particularly enjoy the granular drilling down into whether a performance is 'dreadful', 'woeful', 'poor', 'adequate', 'excellent', etc, probably because I don't have the verbal and musical weaponry to be able to quantify that. I find I want to understand what I am hearing in the music, rather than some of the comparatives with each performance. I find much more than that to be distracting from enjoying the nuances in each performance that I do own. I understand that is my lack and perhaps in time my competence will grow. I am also conscious that there are hundreds of composers I want to hear, and that I have a limited time to do so... if I listen to 10 cycles of Bruckner, say, then I can't listen to a cycle of Hovhaness, Diamond, Pavlova, etc etc. Rambling now.

As for gathering as much of Bax is possible, I am in. I do want to hear everything he wrote and appreciate its depth and beauty, but probably only in a couple of versions at most. I am very much enjoying the symphonies above all else, presently.
Interesting and not rambling at all. I can't read music and therefore my response is purely intuitive. Glad you are enjoying the Bax. You have to hear the Piano Quintet if you don't already know it.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #154 on: May 26, 2021, 01:19:42 PM »
Interesting and not rambling at all. I can't read music and therefore my response is purely intuitive. Glad you are enjoying the Bax. You have to hear the Piano Quintet if you don't already know it.

Thanks for being kind. Also, the Piano Quintet is a winner, without a doubt! Tone poems, next...

Offline foxandpeng

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #155 on: May 26, 2021, 01:34:02 PM »
That makes me unusual too - when both money and storage space are limited, I don't see much value in using it on music I already have, when there is still so much music I don't!

Still enjoying the Handley set - I've heard the first 6 symphonies now. No. 6 is a clear favourite so far, probably followed by No. 3.

I moved to using streaming services a while ago, having also ripped about a thousand of my own CDs to mp3, before gifting the hard copies. I also have an inordinate amount of previously downloaded music, so the shift was ok. Space and cost savings all in one.

Like you, I want to experience breadth not just depth during the windows when I'm able to listen to music. I know others do also, but I am making priorities that best fit, I guess.

I do love 3 and 6. Not as much as 1, maybe, but that trinity leads the pack right now.

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Re: Do you like the Symphonies of Bax?
« Reply #156 on: May 26, 2021, 07:27:24 PM »
Thanks for being kind. Also, the Piano Quintet is a winner, without a doubt! Tone poems, next...
Also the Harp Quintet - lovely work.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).