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Cat. No. CHAN 10362 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10362 - Bax: Tone Poems
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Available From: 01 March 2006
Bax’s love affair with the orchestra first fully came to fruition with the tone poem In the Faery Hills, which was completed in 1909 and also crowned his affection for the country of Ireland. Bax himself referred to it as his first orchestral work, and it was thus regarded during his lifetime. In the Faery Hills was to become his first widely played tone poem and the only one of his early orchestral scores to be published. In the Faery Hills and The Garden of Fand are influenced by Bax’s early passion for Ireland, however, the reality of the First World War, the Easter rising in Dublin, along with his love affair with the pianist Harriet Cohen, made for some deeply autobiographical works. In The Garden of Fand, completed in 1913 whilst he was living in Dublin, Bax finally fully achieved his mature impressionistic style. He referred to this as ‘the last of my Irish music’, and the work evokes both the land and the sea, a constant source of inspiration for Bax. Both November Woods and Tintagel were intimately concerned with Bax’s love affair with Harriet Cohen. The Sinfonietta was never performed in Bax’s lifetime; it was premiered in a broadcast by the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra under Vernon Handley in 1983 so it is just that this recording should be led by that great conductor
Reviews

Performances are excellent; anyone who knows Vernon Handley’s superb cycle of the Bax symphonies will need no further encouragement to hear this disc too.
The Guardian

These four orchestral pieces by Arnold Bax make for dangerous listening: you’ll be battered by storms and swept out to sea. Given Bax’s chromatic language and avoidance of clear-cut design you risk losing consciousness too: this isn’t a disc for continuous listening. Still Handley loves such opulent music; the BBC Philharmonic radiate in Chandos’ rich sound; and two pieces, November Woods and The Garden of Fand, are among Bax’s most seductive.
The Times

It is a tremendous achievement, the crowning glory of Vernon Handley’s dedication to British music in general and to this composer in particular.
Gramophone on CHAN 10122(5) Bax Symphonies

Handley and the BBC Philharmonic strain all their musical sinews to bring out every detail of these highly wrought and texturally complex works, and Handley’s command of structure and pacing is majestic.
The Guardian on CHAN 10122(5) Bax Symphonies

This is the greatest single Bax orchestral record I have heard: the orchestral playing is magnificent throughout, of a quality that this music has been crying out for for decades but which it has never received – until now… this playing is of a high international standard – but over and above the excellence of this fine orchestra is the profound understanding and musicianship of Vernon Handley’s conducting… an issue of considerable importance
International Record Review

This recording makes a splendid follow-up to Vernon Handley’s set of the complete Bax symphonies: here some of the composer’s most powerful orchestral writing receives utterly committed, full-bloodied performance, the complex textures ideally balanced and superbly recorded. A superb disc for British music fans
BBC Music Magazine

This restless, syncopated score may not be top-drawer Bax but the Manchester musicians play it with the fervour of true believers.
Gramophone

Chandos’ earlier recordings with Bryden Thomson were magnificent enough, but Handley goes further still in expressing the broad Romanticism combined with Celtic dreaminess and melancholy that imbues Bax’s works… The BBC Philharmonic plays this kind of music like no other, its strings warm and pliant, its woodwind and brass characterful and penetrating. Bax fans need not hesitate.
Daily Telegraph

In the faery Hills and The Garden of Fand are among Bax’s loveliest and most loveable creations and, though the windswept November Woods is far less tuneful, its emotional undercurrents run unfathomably deep…Handley’s deliberate focus on motivic clarity bring out a Wagnerian grandeur and gravity that strengthen the work’s narrative backbone.
Gramophone

Now Handley lifts us to a new level by penetrating into Bax’s emotional state. It’s all here – the yearning, uncertainty, raw days, and sweeping storms. As a tone poem of a piece of music, the Boult is exemplary, but for a glimpse into the state of mind that produced November Woods, you need Vernon Handley… This recording is not only a discovery, it’s a treat
American Record Guide

 

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