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Cat. No. CHAN 9602 Price: 10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9602 - Bax: Octet  Chamber Music
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Bax: Octet Chamber Music

In Memoriam, originally subtitle ’An Irish Elegy’, is scored for cor anglais, harp and string quartet. The music is announced, bard-like, by the harp, with a repeated spread chordal motif; the cor anglais immediately sounds the folk-like main theme, which is taken by and shared with the strings.

The String Quintet in one movement, with two violas was composed in 1933. In his mid-twenties Bax had written a highly complex, four-movement Quintet with two cellos, and returned to the form ten years on with this work. This later Quintet is characterized by its constant changes of texture and tempo, the score littered with dynamic markings.

Bax’s octet is scored for the unusual forces of horn, piano and string sextet (with double bass). Its composition came about as the result of a commision from the American musical benefactor and champion of chamber music Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge.

Threnody and Scherzo is another octet, written this time for bassoon, harp and string sextet (with double bass). The work was written with the distinctive artistry of bassoonist Archie Camden and harpist Maria Korchinska in mind. At the outset the strings setthe haunted mood against which the bassoon spins its elegiac line. Soon the strings launch the lyrical second subject, and after a brief interplay between bassoon and strings, the music dies away.

Having completed Threnody and Scherzo in 1936, Bax went on immediately to write the COncerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet. The work is a direct transcription of the Sonata for Flute and harp which he had written in 1928 but never published. The outer movements are sunny and extrovert; the finale is dance-like, the nearest Bax ever came to neo-classicism.

Reviews

Reviewers Choice  top discs for 1998
"...delightful disc ..."
Michael Stewart - Gramophone - December 1998

"The latest Bax installment on Chandos features premiere recordings of a host of chamber works unfamiliar to most of us. All attractive pieces played very well. The sound in Orford Church is good... This is a very satisfying program worthy of your attention..."
The Delian - September 1998

"...The interpretations by members of the Academy of St martin-in-the-Fields Chamber Ensemble ... are splendidly servent yet precise in a very idiomatic manner, and Chandos’s close and detailed miking allows one to hear and follow each and every strand and inflection in Bax’s supercharged syntax. A must not only for all Baxians but also for all lovers of the English nativist school."
Paul A Snook - Fanfare - July/August 1998

"...There is so much diversity of ideas and tone colours throughout all five works that I listened in rapt concentration throughout. The general neglect of such marvellous music is nonsensical."
Bill Newman - Hi-Fi News and Record Review - July 1998

Performance ****    Sound *****
Ian MacDonald - Classic CD - June 1998

Performance *****    Sound *****
"Commentators have claimed that the best of Bax lies in his chamber works, particularly for sextet or larger ensembles. These premiere recordings distinguished by fine performances, are perfect examples..."
Ian Lace - BBC Music Magazine - June 1998

"...This really is a wholly exceptional disc - not just for the rarity of the pieces - everything here is recorded for the first time, but for the outstanding quality of the performances, and especially Fingerhut herself..."
Record Review - March/April 1998

"...No praise can be too great for the palpable dedication and sensitively of these performances, which have been accorded Chandos sound of wonderful transparency and warmth. In every way, a delightful release."
AA - Gramophone - May 1998

Performance *****      Recording *****
"... Wonderfully evocative music, superb recording quality."
Yorkshire Post - March 1998
 

****
The Guardian - 27 February 1998

 

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