Sir Arnold Bax

Started by tjguitar, April 15, 2007, 06:12:44 PM

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Roasted Swan

I pulled this disc fairly at random off the shelves yesterday;



Genuinely excellent in every respect.  Mark Bebbington has all the technical and interpretative resources required for this complex, demanding and sometimes elusive music.  Fascinating to hear some music written by Harriet Cohen but the enduring work is the proto Symphony No.1 in its original Sonata in E flat major form.  The outer movements survived into the Symphony pretty much "as is" but with a different central Lento.  Goodness me the fires of Bax's creative inspiration were burning bright around 1921.  I'm always fascinated by the question why these went out quite so dramatically within really just 20 years.  Perhaps a psychiatrist would have an idea or two. That said the 1947 "4 Pieces" are really very attractive even if they lack that power and originality of the sonata.  Put me among the Bax fans for sure but hearing this disc again reminds me why I love his music so much.

Roasted Swan

Exciting arrival in today's post - the new Critical Edition of "Spring Fire".  As used for the 1st time in the up coming release on Chandos by John Wilson and the BBC PO.  A labour of love and dedication and it looks beautiful.Spring Fire.jpg

springrite

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 31, 2024, 01:48:29 AMExciting arrival in today's post - the new Critical Edition of "Spring Fire".  As used for the 1st time in the up coming release on Chandos by John Wilson and the BBC PO.  A labour of love and dedication and it looks beautiful.Spring Fire.jpg
I just happened to have Spring Fire in my car today and listened to it twice, on a round trip. Always loved the piece!
Do what I must do, and let what must happen happen.

Symphonic Addict

I like Spring Fire for its ravishing orchestration and the magic atmosphere it displays, but as to its melodic content is rather scarce and that is important (to me) when a work relies too much on atmosphere.
Part of the tragedy of the Palestinians is that they have essentially no international support for a good reason: they've no wealth, they've no power, so they've no rights.

Noam Chomsky

Maestro267

Picked up a box set of Bax's piano music yesterday. Four sonatas and a load of miniatures, all with his distinct atmospheric soundworld.

Karl Henning

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 24, 2024, 10:47:58 PMI pulled this disc fairly at random off the shelves yesterday;



Genuinely excellent in every respect.  Mark Bebbington has all the technical and interpretative resources required for this complex, demanding and sometimes elusive music.  Fascinating to hear some music written by Harriet Cohen but the enduring work is the proto Symphony No.1 in its original Sonata in E flat major form.  The outer movements survived into the Symphony pretty much "as is" but with a different central Lento.  Goodness me the fires of Bax's creative inspiration were burning bright around 1921.  I'm always fascinated by the question why these went out quite so dramatically within really just 20 years.  Perhaps a psychiatrist would have an idea or two. That said the 1947 "4 Pieces" are really very attractive even if they lack that power and originality of the sonata.  Put me among the Bax fans for sure but hearing this disc again reminds me why I love his music so much.
Who's that on the cover?
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Mirror Image

Quote from: Roasted Swan on May 31, 2024, 01:48:29 AMExciting arrival in today's post - the new Critical Edition of "Spring Fire".  As used for the 1st time in the up coming release on Chandos by John Wilson and the BBC PO.  A labour of love and dedication and it looks beautiful.Spring Fire.jpg

One of my favorite works from Bax. I wonder what edition Handley used for his recording?
"You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance." ― Charles Ives

Roasted Swan


Roasted Swan

Quote from: Mirror Image on June 11, 2024, 12:19:00 PMOne of my favorite works from Bax. I wonder what edition Handley used for his recording?

A score was prepared in 1983 presumably as part of the Centenary celebrations which was published in 1990.  I imagine this would be the score/parts used by Handley.  This new edition standardises/corrects apparently some 400 corrections.....

Karl Henning

Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 11, 2024, 01:22:55 PMermm.... Bax
It's just so unlike the few other photos I've seen, I didn't like to assume.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Mirror Image

Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 11, 2024, 01:29:04 PMA score was prepared in 1983 presumably as part of the Centenary celebrations which was published in 1990.  I imagine this would be the score/parts used by Handley.  This new edition standardises/corrects apparently some 400 corrections.....

Wow...400 corrections! That's a lot. I'm not a fan of Wilson, but I'll probably be picking up his new recording.
"You cannot set art off in a corner and hope for it to have vitality, reality, and substance." ― Charles Ives

Roasted Swan

#1491
Quote from: Mirror Image on June 11, 2024, 01:52:45 PMWow...400 corrections! That's a lot. I'm not a fan of Wilson, but I'll probably be picking up his new recording.

My feelings exactly just swap "will" for "probably"!  I expect this to be well played and well recorded but I won't be surprised if it is characterised by Wilson's preference for extremes - fast and dynamic or slow and langourous.

"Corrections" is posibly an overly-strong word.  Its more about making parts clear and consistent.  So adding/deleting performance indications - accents/dynamics/articulations etc.  Things that are really missing - the odd accidental etc. are corrected too.  Quite often these sorts of things would come out in rehearsal but of course that can/will take a lot of time so the real value of this kind of new score/parts is that the players can get straight down to the (no small) matter of just trying to play this tricky score.  One thing the new editor George Owen has done is change some of the enharmonic writing - so no pitch changes - so it might be a B sharp written in the score but a C natural - the same pitch - is easier to read certainly in a fast moving passage.

The good news is that Owen is moving onto the Symphonic Variations and then hopefully Symphonies and tone poems.  A lot of the latter have never been published at all (only Fand/Tintagel/November Woods/In the Faery Hills ever got commercially printed) and only exist in old hire parts/sets from the publishers which are expensive to hire and in poor condition by now.

As an aside - I don't think Bax was that "lucky" with his main publisher.  His main/original publisher was a small company called Murdoch.  Within his lifetime they were taken over by Chappells who continued to publish exactly the same scores (right down to the slightly downbeat dark grey covers) by simply replacing their name instead of Murdoch.  But they didn't add much new material at at - which might explain the absence of some of his major scores from the published catalogue.  Chappells were a major publisher but not really of this style of music.  Certainly there was no 'bond' between Bax and Chappells in the way that you could say there was with Elgar and Novellos, Walton and OUP or Britten and Booseys.  Chappells big money makers were more in the field of popular/mass consumption music - they were Eric Coates' publisher for instance.  So when Bax died in 1953 not only was his music stylistically 'old hat' and out of fashion in the Post WWII world he didn't have a publisher doing anything to promote it.  Yes they'd sell you stuff from the stock they held but that was about it.  Fast forward another decade and there was a catastrophic fire at Chappells main storage warehouse so the bulk of Bax's remaining scores available for sale (as well as some rare material/originals) went up in flame.  So from that point it was all but impossible to buy new copies of Bax even if you wanted to.  hence his even greater neglect through the 60's and right up to the point Lyrita started to turn the tide.  Chappells then sold the rights onto a very small distributor called Maecenas and there was a bit of a revival around the 1983 centenary.  In very recent years a company called Fand Music (you can sense the commitment there right!) have taken up the Bax publishing cause including new editions/first publications and I see online that it is now possible to get authorised reprints of just about all the old/original Murdoch scores which is great.  But the importance of this new Spring Fire is that is is he first wholly new critical edition of a Bax score.  Just about ALL the major British 20th Century composers have had this treatment already.  Bax with the complexity of his writing really needs this treatment so hopefully this is the start of a long and major project.

Roasted Swan

Quote from: Karl Henning on June 11, 2024, 01:42:32 PMIt's just so unlike the few other photos I've seen, I didn't like to assume.

Bax's physical transformation from slim slightly dreamy young man to tired, overweight, clearly unwell old man (he was only 70 when he died) is one of the most extreme I know.  That he had a congenital heart condition and drank too much seems clear - and explains his non-combative status in WW1



Irons

Quote from: Roasted Swan on June 11, 2024, 10:35:53 PMBax's physical transformation from slim slightly dreamy young man to tired, overweight, clearly unwell old man (he was only 70 when he died) is one of the most extreme I know.  That he had a congenital heart condition and drank too much seems clear - and explains his non-combative status in WW1




Didn't he live over a pub towards the end of his life? Not the best idea for someone who likes a drink or three.
You must have a very good opinion of yourself to write a symphony - John Ireland.

I opened the door people rushed through and I was left holding the knob - Bo Diddley.

vandermolen

Quote from: Karl Henning on June 11, 2024, 01:42:32 PMIt's just so unlike the few other photos I've seen, I didn't like to assume.
It's a very young Bax.
"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).

Luke

#1495
Quote from: Irons on June 11, 2024, 11:59:50 PMDidn't he live over a pub towards the end of his life? Not the best idea for someone who likes a drink or three.

Yes, the White Horse in Storrington, Sussex, just down the road from John Ireland in Rock Windmill, all in the shadow of Chanctonbury Ring.



Bax-eye view


Roasted Swan

For the curious - on the left is the new critical edition of Spring Fire, on the right is an authorised archive copy of Bax's original manuscript score - actually rather beautiful and neat