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Cat. No. CHAN 10154 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10154 - Bax: Orchestral Works, Volume 1
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Available From: 15 September 2003
"In the early 1930s Sir Arnold Bax was at the peak of his reputation, and was widely regarded as one of the leading composers of the day. His first five symphonies had all been premiered prior to the emergence of other significant British symphonic works of the 30s, so when Bax’s new Cello Concerto appeared in March 1934 it was heralded as the work of a major figure. The work is scored for smaller forces than was Bax’s custom: only two trumpets, no trombones or tuba, and no percussion other than timpani. Often Bax needs no more than chamber music textures and these make the perfect accompaniment for the cello soloist.

Bax completed his Violin Concerto a few years later in 1938. The work marks a new approach for Bax. Comparatively lightly scored, it is charming and romantic in contrast to the ‘Sturm und Drang’ of his symphonies. He dedicated the piece to Heifetz, but according to William Walton, Heifetz found the work disappointing – presumably because it wasn’t sufficiently virtuosic – and the work was not premiered until 1943 when Sir Henry Wood conducted it at the BBC Proms.

In 1947 Bax was commissioned to write a piece to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of Princess Elizabeth. He produced a short atmospheric aubade in the simplest style, celebrating the countryside of his beloved Sussex downland, the area in which he had lived since just after the outbreak of World War Two.

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Reviews

He conducts a mellow affectionate performance of the Concerto… Lydia Mordkovitch plays the solo part with real flair and richness of tone and seems to me to bring poetic and romantic feelings to the work…
Gramophone

The Cello Concerto is rhapsodic in feeling and Raphael Wallfisch plays it with marvellous sensitivity and finesse, given splendid support by the LPO under Bryden Thomson.
The Penguin Complete Guide

The Violin Concerto is full of good, easily remembered tunes, yet there is a plangent, bitter-sweet quality about many of its ideas and an easygoing Mediterranean-like warmth that is very appealing. Lydia Mordkovitch plays it with commitment and conviction.
The Penguin Complete Guide

 

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