Author Topic: Sir Arnold Bax  (Read 178214 times)

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tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #60 on: September 25, 2007, 01:02:42 PM »

Mark

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #61 on: September 25, 2007, 02:17:10 PM »


Just read Calum MacDonald's (real name, Malcolm MacDonald - one of very few reviewers whose opinions I take seriously, having been successfully steered by him in the past towards numerous excellent CD purchases) glowing review of this CD in the latest edition of BBC Music magazine. It's been added to my burgeoning wishlist. ;)

tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #62 on: October 02, 2007, 08:28:07 PM »

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #63 on: October 07, 2007, 12:19:06 AM »
Just bought a fascinating second hand CD with the original (piano) version of Bax's First Symphony (John McCabe Continuum CCD 1045). It was originally a Piano Sonata and the quite beautiful central movement is completely different to the one in the Symphony 1. It is a very haunting and atmospheric movement which Bax did not think appropriate for an orchestral treatment.  if you like Bax, look out for this CD.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

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Offline sound67

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #64 on: October 07, 2007, 01:06:57 AM »
Just bought a fascinating second hand CD with the original (piano) version of Bax's First Symphony (John McCabe Continuum CCD 1045).

This work is also included in this, the best recording of Bax's piano sonatas:



Quote
It’s always important for a composer to interest performers outside his own country; but when a musician as eminent as leading German pianist Michael Endres decides to record the Piano Sonatas, we seem to have reached a Baxian watershed comparable to that moment when Bernard Haitink took up his baton to record the complete Vaughan Williams symphonies.   

A watershed in another way, too. Although this is the sixth complete set of the numbered sonatas to be recorded, it’s the first to include the 1921 Sonata in E-flat major which Bax recast orchestrally (with a new slow movement) as his First Symphony. The piano original is a mightily complex and original 3-movement structure, weighing in at 32 minutes; and Endres – in an advance on John McCabe’s pioneer reading on Continuum – leaves us in no doubt that this restless epic is fully worthy of a place alongside its more familiar, equally formidable siblings. 

His poise and lucid articulation are unfailing on, as Robert Hull put it, “an instrument stubborn to reproduce convincingly a harmony not only unusually elaborate but often exceedingly rapid in its integral changes”. That the pianist achieves this so consistently without losing sight of the wood for the technical trees is hugely impressive. In his booklet interview with Richard Adams, Endres pays tribute to Vernon Handley’s “amazing” ability to bring out the structural strength of Bax’s music by tight pacing, and he puts his money where his mouth is – no indulgent lingering here, for sure. He does exactly what’s marked in the score, no more, no less. 

This attractive, easy decisiveness stems no doubt from the experience of having played the works regularly in public. Endres’ pianistic armoury is masterfully deployed, whether in matters of dynamic gradation, rhythmic precision or elasticity of rubato, which is never overdone. When he brings out the big guns at the clangourous climax of the 1st Sonata the impact is overwhelming, but he can impress just as deeply in the reflective, brooding lagoons of the 2nd. Throughout both works tempi and transitions are unarguably judged; and if Endres’ iron-grip personality refuses to indulge Bax’s invitations to Lisztian bravura, the compensation for moments of brusqueness lies in a bar-by-bar vitality which holds the listener in thrall. 

About the last two sonatas there can be no doubts whatsoever. No other recording has captured so fully the mercurial mood changes and emotional variety of the 3rd, which make it the hardest sonata to bring off. Endres uncovers a cornucopia of pianistic colour and musical substance which reveal it to be the most rewarding of the lot – this is an astonishingly good performance! Nor does he sell the simpler, more relaxed appeal of the 4th Sonata short, revelling in its comparatively chaste lines and bringing out hints of neo-classical serenity and unexpected flashes of jazz-cool wit. 

In such multi-planar music no single interpretation could ever be considered “definitive”, but Endres’ musicianship throughout the cycle is consummately absorbing. All five performances grow and deepen on acquaintance. His work is enhanced by a near-perfect recording, engineered by Walburga Dahmen in WDR’s Cologne Bismarck-Saal, bright and clean in the treble but full-throated in the lower reaches, effortlessly capturing Endres’ tonal nuances without dynamic compromise. Nor do Oehms’ unhackneyed photos of the composer, lively interview or booklet design let the side down. Michael Endres has raised the bar for Bax pianists the world over.

Christopher Webber 2006

Thomas
« Last Edit: October 07, 2007, 01:55:28 AM by sound67 »
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Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #65 on: October 07, 2007, 07:33:11 AM »
Thanks Thomas,

Will look out for that CD.

Jeffrey
"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).

tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #66 on: November 12, 2007, 08:16:18 AM »
Another new CD due! :D I think it's already out in the UK?


« Last Edit: November 12, 2007, 08:41:46 AM by tjguitar »

tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #67 on: January 25, 2008, 07:08:59 PM »
here's the cover art for the new Lyrita CD:



Offline Montpellier

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #68 on: January 26, 2008, 02:56:46 AM »
I hope that emusic gets this one up quickly.   I always liked Fredman's rendering of the No 2.   Tempted to buy it as a CD.  As a reissue it's long overdue.

Offline The new erato

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #69 on: January 26, 2008, 06:55:26 AM »
I think Bax may have jut "clicked" for me. Recently listened to the 4t (Handely/Chandos) - 15 years after I bought it and never having been impressed by it - now it was awesome. Quite Sibelian, never have got that reference before either. Will listen to the rest of my Bax CDs (all 3 of them) which also never have made a strong impression. Just the wonder of this hobby.

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #70 on: January 26, 2008, 08:17:27 AM »
I think Bax may have jut "clicked" for me. Recently listened to the 4t (Handely/Chandos) - 15 years after I bought it and never having been impressed by it - now it was awesome. Quite Sibelian, never have got that reference before either. Will listen to the rest of my Bax CDs (all 3 of them) which also never have made a strong impression. Just the wonder of this hobby.

Great news! Which other works are you now going to try?
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Offline The new erato

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #71 on: January 26, 2008, 08:32:00 AM »
Great news! Which other works are you now going to try?
I have 3 Naxos CDs - the string quartets and the symphony nr 1 - and will give them an airing in the space of the next couple of weeks, and then we'll see. Have gotten a recommendation for the violin concerto on Chandos from a friend, and as violin concertoes may be one of the years "projects", maybe that will be a place to start....

Offline J.Z. Herrenberg

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #72 on: January 26, 2008, 08:39:45 AM »
I have 3 Naxos CDs - the string quartets and the symphony nr 1 - and will give them an airing in the space of the next couple of weeks, and then we'll see. Have gotten a recommendation for the violin concerto on Chandos from a friend, and as violin concertoes may be one of the years "projects", maybe that will be a place to start....

I don't know the string quartets yet, but I do know the First symphony: very dark, very powerful. From what I have read, though, it seems the Handley performance scores over all the others. I know the Thomson, on Chandos, and though some find fault with it, I have always liked it.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

Harry

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #73 on: January 26, 2008, 08:51:22 AM »
Handley is indeed the best way to go with Bax, but I also have the Thomson recordings, and like them very much. Compare both recordings to the Naxos issues, Handley will come out top, with a close follow up by Thomson. But the Naxos has its merits too.
The SQ on Naxos are superb played.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2008, 08:53:00 AM by Harry »

Offline Montpellier

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #74 on: January 27, 2008, 08:47:29 AM »
I may have said this before.  If so, apologies.

I never got on with Bryden Thomson's renderings except the 4th which I believe was recorded in Belfast and doesn't suffer his quirky tempi - his version of the 3rd is particularly quirky.  I know Bax didn't include metronome markings in most of his scores but Thomson's Bax 3rd really is all over the place.  But the problem afflicting all Thomson's recordings (except the 4th) is that they were recorded in an appalling acoustic.  All-Saints, Tooting Bec, has a lovely cathedrally acoustic - gorgeous for Palestrina but an absolute pain for Bax' romantic, chromatic harmonies.  They get insufferably blurred.  They may appeal to some tastes but those wanting to hear Bax harmonies un-muddied have to turn elsewhere.

The fact that he did a brilliant Bax 4 is great because the rest (apart from 3) can be made up from the Lyrita series which were excellent recordings.
.

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #75 on: January 27, 2008, 08:53:28 AM »
I may have said this before.  If so, apologies.

I never got on with Bryden Thomson's renderings except the 4th which I believe was recorded in Belfast and doesn't suffer his quirky tempi - his version of the 3rd is particularly quirky.  I know Bax didn't include metronome markings in most of his scores but Thomson's Bax 3rd really is all over the place.

I think you mean the third and final movement especially, where the tempi are indeed very strange.
Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. -- Plato

tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #76 on: January 27, 2008, 09:46:36 AM »
I think you may have mentioned that before, Anacho, and like I said before, for many of the shorter orchestral works---Thomson is the only available recording. 

Maybe this will change in the future, but I'll hold on to them.:)

I think I read somewhere that his recordings sounded better when they were on LP then the subsequent CD reissues. I have no idea if that is accurate, but if it is you wonder if the "remastered" CDs (the "Orchestral Works" budget series) sound better.  Supposedly Chandos is reissuing the ballets disc when Handley's 2nd disc of Tone Poems comes out.  That will, I think, complete my collection of the Thomson Bax recordings!

Although I will say, while it's unfortunate that they didn't record the whole series with the Ulster Orchestra, I'm glad that this stuff got recorded, such as the cello and violin concertos, Christmas Eve, Saga Fragment, Winter Legends, etc; because again, if it weren't for Chandos, many of these would be much harder to track down.

Offline Montpellier

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #77 on: January 27, 2008, 01:49:14 PM »
I surely go along with your last remark - but for Chandos the catalogue of British music would be very much the poorer.

Offline vandermolen

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #78 on: January 30, 2008, 05:14:20 AM »
here's the cover art for the new Lyrita CD:




I have been waiting for this for decades, mainly for Leppard's unrivalled performance of Symphony No 5, which had a huge impact on me in the 1970s on LP.
"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).

tjguitar

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Re: Sir Arnold Bax
« Reply #79 on: February 03, 2008, 09:39:31 AM »
I have been waiting for this for decades, mainly for Leppard's unrivalled performance of Symphony No 5, which had a huge impact on me in the 1970s on LP.


Amazon.co.uk is showing a release date in April. I hope that's a mistake. if true, it won't be out in the US until even after that, I suspect.