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Cat. No. CHAN 10366 X Price: £7 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10366 - Bax: Orchestral Works, Volume 8
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Available From: 01 March 2006
Even though Sir Arnold Bax was prolific in his career, he wrote little choral music and no operas or solo vocal pieces. The works on this disc, dating from Bax’s early and middle period, could really be seen as tone poems with the chorus and soloists as piquant additions to the orchestra’s palette. There is some lovely early Bax here in Enchanted Summer, a setting of a scene from Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, which offers a musical depiction of an Arcadian landscape inhabited by Fauns, Wood Spirits and Nereids; the music is reminiscent of some of Delius’s most haunting works. The orchestration is typically Baxian, and the beautiful twin soprano voices of Anne Williams-King and Lynore McWhirter glide across the orchestral surface. Dating from 1906, Fatherland is the earliest piece here and is an attractive, buoyant setting of a patriotic poem by the Finland-Swedish poet Runeberg. Walsinghame is the setting of Sir Walter Raleigh’s poem of the same title, a threnody on the onset of old age, and features the eloquent tones of the tenor Martyn Hill. When he wrote the piece in 1926, Bax had experienced a crisis in his relationship with the pianist Harriet Cohen, which informs this powerful setting of the ageing Elizabethan courtier’s words; it is very much influenced by the English choral tradition of Vaughan Williams et al.
Reviews

It is full-bloodedly performed and finely recorded.
Gramophone

This issue represents a considerable achievement for all involved. The spacious recording copes beautifully with everything Bax can muster.
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