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Cat. No. CHAN 10132(4) X Price: £21 No. of discs: 4
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CHAN 10132 - Bax: Piano Music
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Available From: 15 September 2003
"Arnold Bax was a legendary pianist. He wrote prolifically for his instrument, his shorter pieces being a particular feature of his output between 1910 and 1920. Bax’s irrepressible fecundity stands in marked contrast to the slow and painstaking productivity of, say, Walton. We would scarcely expect such a vast output to be of uniformly high quality and yet of all the huge acreage of score paper Bax covered it is amazing how much seems to retain the seeds of survival. Certainly his lavish talent has hindered a thoroughgoing exploration of his work and a just estimate of his stature which, as an ‘unabashed romantic’ (his own much-quoted phrase) of the English Musical Renaissance, is considerable.

Many of the pieces in this survey document the turbulent personal life of the composer. Two Russian Tone Pictures,for example, are mementoes, written after Bax fell in love with a Ukrainian girl in 1909. Sleepy Head, a dreamy night piece of a type at which Bax excelled, and somewhat Chopinesque in its delicately wrought piano textures, was dedicated to Elsita, Bax’s wife. A Romance, the playful and capricious The Maiden with the Daffodil, and the more sensual and sultry The Princess’s Rose Garden were written for Harriet Cohen, a pianist thirteen years his junior, with whom he started a celebrated love affair during the First World War and for whom, in 1918, he left his wife and children. Harriet is also the dedicatee of Bax’s Third Sonata, written at a point when his relationship with her had reached a state of crisis, and this is reflected in the sonata’s tortured mood. Other pieces such as Dream in Exile and On a May Evening are probably inspired by Bax’s beloved Ireland.

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Reviews

'If you've been attracted to Bax by Chandos' recent series of the symphonies (CHAN 10122(5)), you'll find this a fascinating companion set.'
BBC Music Magazine

Excellent recording of piano tone by Chandos on this disc… the second in Eric Parkins magisterial survey of Baxs piano music.
Gramophone

Eric Parkin provides a sympathetic guide in this repertoire… the playing is outstandingly responsive.
The Penguin Complete Guide

…devoted and perceptive accounts from Eric Parkin.
Hi-Fi News

The case for this music is very strongly made by Eric Parkins sensitive and committed playing.
Classic CD

'This wonderful music ranges form the melodic and folksy to the cragginess of the sonatas. Eric Parkin's pianism is beyond praise, and the recording excellent. If you missed this the first time around, grab it now while you can.'
American Record Guide

'Above all it is the four Piano Sonatas, on the first two of the four CDs which comprise this set - over-used word, I know - which are indispensible.'
International Record Review

While I do not have a soft spot for Baxs piano idiom, I have no reservations in recommending this excellent survey , not only ofr its comprehensiveness, but also for the scholarly, distinguished playing of Eric Parkin. His pedalling in the complex, orchestral washes Bax paints in masterly; his pianism is self-effacing; quite simply he reveals Bax the composer, not Parkin the pianist.
Pianist

'Four CDs of well-textured, luscious, strong-willed music, its influences ranging from Russian church bells to the emotional impact of the Great War. Sympathetic, brilliant playing from Parkin.'
Classic FM Magazine

This wonderful music ranges from the melodic and folksy to the cragginess of the sonatas. Eric Parkins pianism is beyond praise, and the recording excellent. If you missed this the first time around, grab it now while you can.
American Record Guide

If youve been attracted to Bax by Chandos recent series of the symphonies (CHAN 10122(5)), youll find this a fascinating companion set.
BBC Music Magazine

Above all it is the four Piano Sonatas, on the first two of the four CDs which comprise this set - over-used word, I know - which are indispensible.
International Record Review

Four CDs of well-textured, luscious, strong-willed music, its influences ranging from Russian church bells to the emotional impact of the Great War. Sympathetic, brilliant playing from Parkin.
Classic FM Magazine

'While I do not have a soft spot for Bax's piano idiom, I have no reservations in recommending this excellent survey , not only ofr its comprehensiveness, but also for the scholarly, distinguished playing of Eric Parkin. His pedalling in the complex, orchestral washes Bax paints in masterly; his pianism is self-effacing; quite simply he reveals Bax the composer, not Parkin the pianist.'
The Pianist

 

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