Bax, Arnold - Tone Poems, Vol. 2 - Handley, Vernon

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"Vernon Handley (still no knighthood?) returns to his exploration of the Bax tone-poems with this sumptuous, majestic collection. Is it me, or are the sounds he can draw from orchestras ever more resplendent? It is almost as though he acquires more vigour with the passing years and the result here is a disc that bristles with energy and excitement. Marvellous."

On Volume 1, International Record Review wrote: ‘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… over and above the excellence of this fine orchestra is the profound understanding and musicianship of Vernon Handley’s conducting.’

For Bax there were several periods of intense creativity when he committed to paper a variety of works in the form of piano scores, and orchestrated them when required. Many of the tone poems performed here were conceived in this fashion, including Red Autumn, which here receives its premiere recording. Originally a solo piano piece, it was then arranged for two pianos by Bax himself. In 2006 the Sir Arnold Bax Trust commissioned Graham Parlett to orchestrate the work in Bax’s early period style specifically for this recording. Heard in its orchestral dress it immediately reveals its family resemblance to the tone poems Nympholept and November Woods, composed round the same time.

Vernon Handley brings together for the first time three orchestral movements to which the collective title ‘Three Northern Ballads’ has been given. They date from the late 1920s and early 1930s, breathe much the same atmosphere, and Handley is keen to promote them as forming a unified, almost symphonic, whole. The first, which Bax composed and gave the name ‘Northern Ballad’ in 1927, was followed by a second Ballad, orchestrated in 1931. The third, formally entitled Prelude for a Solemn Occasion, appears to evoke a Sibelian musical landscape, and occupies the same world as the composer’s Sixth Symphony, which followed almost immediately. When Bax orchestrated the third piece he was taking his usual winter sojourn at Morar, Inverness-shire, and in a letter to a friend wrote, ‘It suggests an atmosphere of the dark north and perhaps dark happenings among the mists’. The nature painting in the work certainly calls to mind the wilds of Scotland.

Joining this quasi-symphonic work, in addition to Red Autumn, are three further early tone poems. Into the Twilight dates from Bax’s first intensive period of composition, the years immediately preceding World War I, and originated as the prelude to a planned Irish opera, Deirdre. It received only one performance during Bax’s lifetime, in 1909, conducted by Thomas Beecham. Nympholept which followed was the work in which Bax fully achieved the impressionistic technique of his first maturity. It suggests the pagan natural world in which Bax was so deeply interested. The Happy Forest, follows a pastoral short story by Herbert Farjeon, and is an Arcadian evocation much like Nympholept. It was first performed in 1923 under Eugene Goossens, its dedicatee.
Artikelnummer CHAN10446
Streckkod 0095115144626
Utgivningsdatum 2008-03-31
Kategori Klassiskt
Skivbolag Chandos
Enhet CD
Antal enheter 1
Artister Handley, Vernon
Kompositörer Bax, Arnold
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