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Cat. No. CHAN 9879 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 9879 - Bax: Orchestral Works
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Available From: 12 February 2001
In 1903 while still a student, Bax wrote a String Quartet in E major, the second of two student quartets, and to the slow movement the young composer gave a programmatic force by prefacing it with a quotation from the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats. In 1904 this movement was performed in an arrangement for two violins and piano bearing the title Cathaleen-ni-Hoolihan, and seven months later it was orchestrated by the composer. The first performance of the orchestral version was given at the Royal College of Music in 1970.

In 1911 Bax sought to emulate the works of the Ballet russes with his own ‘Russian Ballet’, or rather ‘a Little-Russian fairy tale in action and dance’, as he called it. The ensuing work Tamara, was taken from a story by Andrew Lang about a king who is trapped by a water demon while hunting. In order to gain his freedom he promises to the water demon whatever new thing awaits his return, which inevitably, is his son, Prince Igor! The Prince, twenty years later, meets the enchanter’s daughter, Tamara. Her father turns her into a flower which is later recognised by the prince, who restores her to life.

Since the turn of the nineteenth century British Coronations have assume the character of festivals of new British Music. At the time of the Coronation in 1937 Kenneth Wright at the BBC remarked that such a piece as London Pageant would be bound to attract many performances and Bax took the hint. The work was written in December 1936, the orchestration completed in February 1937 and the work first played in a broadcast concert of the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by the celebrated Albert Coates.

The Concertante for Three Wind Instruments and Orchestra was written during November and December 1948 and was completed on New Year’s day 1949. It was commissioned for the Sir Henry Wood Memorial Concert given at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 March 1949. There it was played by the BBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sir Malcolm Sargent. The music is unpublished and the manuscript full score was destroyed in Chappell’s fire in 1964; the work only survives because a photographic copy (before the days of photocopiers) had been made.
Reviews

‘…in the Chandos Bax series, the recording is exemplary.’
Gramophone on CHAN 9003 (Bax Violin Concerto, etc.)

‘If Bax ever receives the attention he deserves, people will discover he was a great composer.’
The Times on CHAN 8906-10 (Bax symphonies)

‘Martyn Brabbins directs a set of performances as crisply polished as they are infectious, and Chandos’ sound is characteristically sumptuous to match’
Gramophone

‘All of these pieces are genuine discoveries brilliantly played by the BBC Philharmonic and just as brilliantly led by Brabbins, who may be the next great Bax conductor.’
American Record Guide

‘Chandos has provided its usual luminous sound. All in all an unexpectedly substantial release.’
Fanfare

 

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