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Cat. No. CHAN 10155 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10155 - Bax: Orchestral Works, Volume 2
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Audio Sample

Available From: 15 September 2003
"The British composer Sir Arnold Bax came to maturity at the time Richard Strauss, Debussy and Sibelius were first appreciated. Although Bax was enchanted by these composers, their influence was soon absorbed into a highly personal musical language. Bax’s reputation rests largely on his orchestral music and yet many of his colourful and evocative scores remained unheard until these recordings. At the climax of his early maturity, Bax’s development became stimulated by the fashionable paganism engendered by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. In this mood Swinburne’s poem Atalanta in Calydon was the inspiration for Spring Fire. It was probably his most unlucky score! Its scheduled performances were cancelled three times and in 1964 the only remaining manuscript was destroyed in a fire. Later another score was discovered, but for several years the work was believed irretrievable.

A number of Bax’s orchestral works were first written for piano and his previously unknown Symphonic Scherzo for Orchestra is all that survives of a Piano Sonata which immediately followed Spring Fire. It was orchestrated and performed at a Promenade concert in 1919. The version recorded here is a from a revised edition made in 1933, which until this recording had remained unplayed. In the Northern Ballads we find Bax responding to the influence of Sibelius, a fascination which informs the changes in Bax’s style found after about 1930.


Highly idiomatic playing from Vernon Handley and the RPO, and a thoroughly life-like and characteristically well-detailed recording from Chandos.
The Penguin Complete Guide

… is a most important addition to the Bax discography and receives a performance of great power and refinement.


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