Author Topic: Sir Arnold Bax  (Read 232737 times)

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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1200 on: July 20, 2022, 04:43:48 AM »
Thank you very much for that helpful and interesting information. I very much appreciate it.
Yes, there does seem to be an empathy between Thomson and the Ulster Orchestra which is a fine ensemble in my opinion.
I agree. It's a pity that Thomson's entire symphony cycle was not with the Ulster Orchestra (only No.4 I think).
"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 kyjo

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1201 on: August 10, 2022, 06:02:58 PM »
Just wanted to put in another plug for Bax’s ineffably beautiful tone poem In memoriam (1916), which I feel still doesn’t get enough love even from my fellow Baxians. (It’s not to be confused with his - also very beautiful - chamber work of the same name). As much as I love his 1st, 3rd, and 6th Symphonies, Tintagel, November Woods, Piano Quintet, etc. it remains my single favorite work by him. The main theme that appears about a minute in is one of the most noble, expansive, yearning, and nostalgic melodies known to me and it makes me tear up every time I hear it. It can be found on the below Chandos CD in an excellent performance by the BBC Philharmonic under Vernon Handley - there’s also a recording by the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder on the orchestra’s own label. Please do hear this beautiful work if you haven’t already!



https://youtu.be/zznTaL61lBo
« Last Edit: August 10, 2022, 06:04:50 PM by kyjo »
"Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music" - Sergei Rachmaninoff

Offline aligreto

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1202 on: August 11, 2022, 12:39:10 AM »
Just wanted to put in another plug for Bax’s ineffably beautiful tone poem In memoriam (1916), which I feel still doesn’t get enough love even from my fellow Baxians. (It’s not to be confused with his - also very beautiful - chamber work of the same name). As much as I love his 1st, 3rd, and 6th Symphonies, Tintagel, November Woods, Piano Quintet, etc. it remains my single favorite work by him. The main theme that appears about a minute in is one of the most noble, expansive, yearning, and nostalgic melodies known to me and it makes me tear up every time I hear it. It can be found on the below Chandos CD in an excellent performance by the BBC Philharmonic under Vernon Handley - there’s also a recording by the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder on the orchestra’s own label. Please do hear this beautiful work if you haven’t already!



https://youtu.be/zznTaL61lBo

You certainly put a strong case for the work, Kyle.
I will give it a listen later. Thank you for the link.
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1203 on: August 11, 2022, 01:37:24 AM »
You certainly put a strong case for the work, Kyle.
I will give it a listen later. Thank you for the link.
+1
"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 relm1

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1204 on: August 11, 2022, 03:53:22 PM »
Turned on my car radio on my way back from the gym this evening ( 0:) 54 lengths of the swimming pool at a rather slow pace). Anyway, continuing this watery theme I was delighted to catch most of Bax's 'Tintagel' live from the Proms. It sounded like a very good performance (the ubiquitous John Wilson with the Sinfonia of London - maybe they will do a Bax CD). After the performance the Radio 3 presenter commented that after Bax's death in 1953 'Tintagel' was the only one of his works still performed. Things improved (a bit) at the time of the Centenary of Bax's birth in 1983, thanks to recordings made by Vernon Handley, Bryden Thomson and David Lloyd-Jones of the symphonies and tone poems (at around that time I remember attending a performance of Bax's 5th symphony in a largely empty Albert Hall). Still, good to hear Tintagel this evening.

So, I finally figured out how to hear the radio broadcast on the BBC website and loved this concert!  I thought the Tintagel was a fantastic performance.  Hitting all the right notes between vivid, evocative, and dramatic.  Also thought very highly of Thomas Tallis.  It would be great if they did a Bax cd.  One thing I'm scratching my head about, does London need another orchestra?  They said on the broadcast that Sinfonia of London is only four years old and as I understand it, it isn't a concert orchestra but a radio (pickup) orchestra.   I like the recordings and quality of Wilson's chandos releases but do notice the performances lack some discipline but don't find that terrible as I tend to prefer performances that sizzle and are on the edge of falling apart to those that are too safe.  I tend to prefer 1960's and 70's Bernstein, Davis, Karajan, Solti, Previn to same conductors a generation later where the interpretations where more precise but less on edge.  This is generally true for me - Stokowski from 1930's-50's is superior to 60's and 70's.  Similarly, I tend to prefer Markovitch, Kondrashin, Rozhdestvensky, Mravinsky, etc. to Gergiev, Temirkanov, or Petrenko.   All are fine, just feel that an edge is missing.  The interpretations just trend towards safe it seems. 

So there must be a small sweet spot.  I guess the ideal is you keep the reckless abandonment of youth in your passion but the measured wisdom of maturity in your control. 

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1205 on: August 12, 2022, 10:53:49 PM »
So, I finally figured out how to hear the radio broadcast on the BBC website and loved this concert!  I thought the Tintagel was a fantastic performance.  Hitting all the right notes between vivid, evocative, and dramatic.  Also thought very highly of Thomas Tallis.  It would be great if they did a Bax cd.  One thing I'm scratching my head about, does London need another orchestra?  They said on the broadcast that Sinfonia of London is only four years old and as I understand it, it isn't a concert orchestra but a radio (pickup) orchestra.   I like the recordings and quality of Wilson's chandos releases but do notice the performances lack some discipline but don't find that terrible as I tend to prefer performances that sizzle and are on the edge of falling apart to those that are too safe.  I tend to prefer 1960's and 70's Bernstein, Davis, Karajan, Solti, Previn to same conductors a generation later where the interpretations where more precise but less on edge.  This is generally true for me - Stokowski from 1930's-50's is superior to 60's and 70's.  Similarly, I tend to prefer Markovitch, Kondrashin, Rozhdestvensky, Mravinsky, etc. to Gergiev, Temirkanov, or Petrenko.   All are fine, just feel that an edge is missing.  The interpretations just trend towards safe it seems. 


So there must be a small sweet spot.  I guess the ideal is you keep the reckless abandonment of youth in your passion but the measured wisdom of maturity in your control.
Interesting comments. I especially liked you point about preferring performances which are 'on the edge of falling apart' to more slick/polished ones. I can relate to that. I like those old Melodiya performances by the likes of Kondrashin and Mravinsky to the more slick and polished Gergiev/Petrenko ones for example. They may be played beautifully but there is something lacking. A very good example of the 'about to fall apart' recording is Hamilton Harty's premiere recording of Walton's 1st Symphony, recorded in a freezing cold warehouse in London. The Symphony had only recently been premiered - it is an absolutely riveting performance. Also worth exploring (back on topic) is Goossens's recording of Bax's 2nd Symphony (and another fine 'Tintagel'). Glad you enjoyed the Prom.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2022, 11:01:12 PM by vandermolen »
"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 vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1206 on: August 14, 2022, 01:52:32 PM »
Just wanted to put in another plug for Bax’s ineffably beautiful tone poem In memoriam (1916), which I feel still doesn’t get enough love even from my fellow Baxians. (It’s not to be confused with his - also very beautiful - chamber work of the same name). As much as I love his 1st, 3rd, and 6th Symphonies, Tintagel, November Woods, Piano Quintet, etc. it remains my single favorite work by him. The main theme that appears about a minute in is one of the most noble, expansive, yearning, and nostalgic melodies known to me and it makes me tear up every time I hear it. It can be found on the below Chandos CD in an excellent performance by the BBC Philharmonic under Vernon Handley - there’s also a recording by the Hallé under Sir Mark Elder on the orchestra’s own label. Please do hear this beautiful work if you haven’t already!



https://youtu.be/zznTaL61lBo
Just playing this work now Kyle. It is indeed very fine and thank you for alerting us to its merits. The theme that you like also appears in Bax's later film score for David Lean's 'Oliver Twist':
"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 vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1207 on: August 14, 2022, 09:15:06 PM »
'Tapiola' features on the CD accompanying the new BBC Music Magazine.
"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 aligreto

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #1208 on: September 22, 2022, 04:18:14 AM »
I have just finished listening to Vol. 5 of the Thompson series on Chandos:






A Festival Overture: It is an interesting and contrasting work to listen to. It essentially does what it says. It is filled with the atmosphere of a festive occasion. It can be boisterous and exuberant and a bit quirky and whimsical in places. However, like most Bax works, it has its contrasting dark and contemplative passages. However, this is compensated for by the surrounding joy and sunshine.


Christmas Eve: I do not know its background but this is a wonderful piece of music. It may well be charged with emotional effusiveness but, consider the time of year that we are concerned with here. I find the tone of the music to be rather contemplative rather than celebratory but it certainly eventually encompasses the celebratory element, particularly towards its conclusion. This is a very fine work and very worthy of a hearing.


Nympholept: This is yet another wonderfully atmospheric work from Bax. It is quietly intense in the opening passages where the orchestration contributes substantially to the atmosphere. As the work progresses the intensity levels augment incrementally and the sense of both intensity and atmosphere are developed and portrayed. The music becomes more expansive towards its conclusion and then ultimately concludes in a somewhat subdued tone. It is a fine work.


Dance of Wild Irravel: This is a short but a suitably animated and atmospheric work. Bax never fails in the atmosphere department.


Paean: This is quite a short work and, to be honest, I do not quite know what to make of it on this, my first listen. It seems quite a clichéd celebratory piece of writing for Bax. Even so, the orchestration is wonderful, as ever. However, I find the work to be uneven and of mixed quality. I think that it lacks cohesion.
By way of elucidation I am including this quote from member pjme who offered the following insight and background into the music:

Quote
"Paean" is one of those compositions when a composer is given the opportunity to use all the forces available "for a special" occasion.
Bax's original version of Paean for piano was composed in 1920.
When Bax was commissioned to provide an orchestral work for the Sir Henry Wood Jubilee of 1938, he decided to expand his Paean for very large forces, including organ.
A noisy and fortunately short "song of praise or triumph."
It's a fun hoot!

I still do not like the work but I am grateful for the contribution to my education and it should be credited and included here.


Overture to a Picaresque Comedy: This is an interesting work. It is multi-faceted in terms of its musical content and that variety is interesting in itself. Once again, the orchestration is of the highest order.


Cortège: This is a short but atmospheric work in a festive, upbeat and celebratory vein.




It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and leave no doubt.