Author Topic: Sir Arnold Bax  (Read 170092 times)

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Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1080 on: October 08, 2020, 03:35:51 AM »
The other day I was listening to this disc:



His choral works seem to get few mentions. Certainly pleasant music, especially when you want to indulge yourself with opulent orchestrations and lush harmonies and sonorities. Enchanted Summer for two sopranos, chorus and orchestra was the highlight (and the longest work on the CD). These works represent Bax with a "happy" facet. Don't expect warlike or belligerent passages here.

Your comment about the choral music as it relates to the works accompanied by orchestra is fair.  Enchanted Summer is very much the choral equivalent of Spring Fire but predates that early(ish) work by another 3 years so its hard to hear much mature Bax in it.  Part of the problem is its scale; 28 minutes is not enough for a half of a concert even but the writing both for orchestra and especially chorus is brutally hard and unforgiving.  On this recording the Brighton Festival Chorus ladies rarely sound comfortable and that is Bax's fault not theirs.  The writing sits unrelentingly high for most amateur singers.

Of course, Bax's GREAT choral music is his unaccompanied works which are in a different league all together.  Both Mater Ora Filium and This Worlde's Joie are genuine masterpieces, the equal of any British choral music from the time

Offline Biffo

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1081 on: October 08, 2020, 04:36:43 AM »
Your comment about the choral music as it relates to the works accompanied by orchestra is fair.  Enchanted Summer is very much the choral equivalent of Spring Fire but predates that early(ish) work by another 3 years so its hard to hear much mature Bax in it.  Part of the problem is its scale; 28 minutes is not enough for a half of a concert even but the writing both for orchestra and especially chorus is brutally hard and unforgiving.  On this recording the Brighton Festival Chorus ladies rarely sound comfortable and that is Bax's fault not theirs.  The writing sits unrelentingly high for most amateur singers.

Of course, Bax's GREAT choral music is his unaccompanied works which are in a different league all together.  Both Mater Ora Filium and This Worlde's Joie are genuine masterpieces, the equal of any British choral music from the time

I agree completely. I listened to this work over the weekend and struggled to finish it - a deeply unpleasant experience. I didn't post on the subject as I had nothing positive to say. I didn't enjoy Walsinghame either.

Offline Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1082 on: October 08, 2020, 11:28:14 AM »
I agree completely. I listened to this work over the weekend and struggled to finish it - a deeply unpleasant experience. I didn't post on the subject as I had nothing positive to say. I didn't enjoy Walsinghame either.

As it happened later this afternoon I listened to the Naxos/Lloyd-Jones Symphony No.1 disc which includes "In the Faery Hills" and the utterly great "Garden of Fand".  Of course, all composers 'progress' as they mature but goodness me, the difference between Bax circa 1911 and 1916 is huge.  "Fand" is such a 'complete' work - every effect and musical gesture judged to perfection.  Unalloyed delight from start to end.  I'm not the biggest fan of Lloyd-Jones' cycle but this was a very strong start......

Online vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1083 on: October 15, 2020, 10:50:22 AM »
This interests me for the original piano version of 'Nympholept':

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2020/Oct/Bax-piano-USK1236CD.htm
"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 Roasted Swan

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1084 on: October 15, 2020, 02:17:11 PM »
This interests me for the original piano version of 'Nympholept':

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2020/Oct/Bax-piano-USK1236CD.htm

I hadn't realised until I heard this disc that "The Happy Forest" actually predates the three famous tone poems.  That's because the orchestral version of Happy Forest was completed in the 20's so I assumed it was composed then as well.  Placing it a decade earlier makes it much more significant in Bax's development and it forms a link from Spring Fire to Garden of Fand.

Online vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1085 on: October 16, 2020, 06:56:51 AM »
I hadn't realised until I heard this disc that "The Happy Forest" actually predates the three famous tone poems.  That's because the orchestral version of Happy Forest was completed in the 20's so I assumed it was composed then as well.  Placing it a decade earlier makes it much more significant in Bax's development and it forms a link from Spring Fire to Garden of Fand.
Interesting indeed. Relating to the discussion above I've never liked any choral music that I've heard by Bax and the same goes for the Violin and Cello Concerto. The Garden of Fand is enjoyable but not a favourite of mine either. I much prefer some of the lesser-known works like Nympholept (and I'm looking forward to hearing the piano version) as well as Christmas Eve as well as the better known Tintagel and November Woods. I hope to listen to Spring Fire over the w'end, which I have no memory of. The great revelation to me, through this forum, has been the epic Piano Quintet. Over the past few days I've been playing the also epic 'Symphonic Variations' (Naxos and Chandos recording) with much pleasure - I need to have another go with Winter Legends.
"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).