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Cat. No. CHAN 10209(2) X Price: £7 No. of discs: 2
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CHAN 10209 - Bax: Orchestral Works, Volume 7
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Available From: 09 February 2004
Sir Arnold Bax produced some of his most celebrated tone poems during the First World War, including Tintagel, The Garden of Fand, and the Symphonic Variations which appear in this set. The war years also saw a remarkable change in Bax’s personal circumstances, the result of a passionate love affair with the pianist Harriet Cohen. By the end of the War he had deserted his children and his respectable married life to live in rented rooms in Hampstead. Thereafter he was always to be associated with Harriet Cohen, though his initial passion eventually cooled. But it was for her that the work Symphonic Variations was written (the score is inscribed ‘To darling Tania with love from Arnold’ – Tania was the name by which Miss Cohen’s friends knew her) and the work undoubtedly owes much of its content to their relationship at the time. The score brought Bax wide recognition as a composer.

Winter Legends is in a form which Bax evolved for his symphonies – three movements with epilogue. Although Bax agreed it might well be regarded as another symphony, he remarked that ‘in the first movement the form is free’, and in the last analysis he felt that movement to be ‘too rhapsodic for symphonic structure’. What legends exactly Bax had in mind when he wrote the piece, we do not know. There is obviously an underlying programme, but whether it is something as clearly delineated as an Icelandic Saga or, rather less precisely, it is a more subconscious drama of Bax himself, we cannot tell.

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