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Bax: Symphonic Variations, Concertante for Piano (Left Hand) / Judd, Wass, Bournemouth SO

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> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part I: Theme: Lento espressivo -
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part I: Variation 1, "Youth": Allegro: Restless and tumultuous -
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part I: Variation 2, "Nocturne": Slow and serene, Broadly -
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part I: Variation 3, "Strife": Allegro vivace
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part II: Variation 4, "The Temple": Slow and solemn -
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part II: Variation 5, "Play": Scherzo: Allegretto vivace - Intermezzo, "Enchantment": Very moderate tempo -
> Symphonic Variations in E major - Part II: Variation 6, "Triumph": Moderate tempo: Glowing and passionate
> Concertante for Piano Left Hand - I. Allegro moderato
> Concertante for Piano Left Hand - II. Moderato tranquillo
> Concertante for Piano Left Hand - III. Rondo: Allegro moderato

Album Summary

>Bax, Arnold [Composer] : Symphonic Variations, for piano & orchestra in E major
>Bax, Arnold [Composer] : Concertante, for piano, left hand & orchestra
Performer Conductor Ensemble Composer

Notes & Reviews:

Bax completed five works for piano and orchestra, beginning in 1916 with the highly virtuosic 'Symphonic Variations' dedicated to the pianist Harriet Cohen. The work was likened by Rosa Newmarch, who wrote the programme note for the first performance, "to some great epic poem dealing with the adventures of a hero... passing through a number of different experiences." The 'Concertante for Piano (Left Hand) and Orchestra' (1949) is on a smaller scale. The romantic slow movement opens with a beautiful and haunting piano tune, which gives way to a brooding atmospheric middle section, coloured by typical Baxian orchestral textures, like swirling mists in a nocturnal vision of some Irish coastal vista.



Reviews

Bax Symphonic Variations Concertante
Despite recent pioneering efforts by several recording companies, especially Chandos and Naxos, to promote the music of Sir Arnold Bax, most of today's music-lovers and concert-goers remain largely unaware of this English composer, whose music was much better known during the first half of the twentieth century. Audiences are notoriously fickle; Mahler, largely shunned during his life, suddenly came into vogue around 1960, and his popularity today remains undiminished. After their deaths, Elgar, Sibelius, and Vaughan Williams were forgotten; today, happily, concert performances include their music. The lamentably long list of composers consigned to obscurity or oblivion even before they died includes Bax. Many who recognize Bax's name can probably recall only one work - his symphonic poem "Tintagel," a wonderfully evocative portrait of the sea. That today's concert-goers are so unaware of Bax's music is indeed sad, because he wrote in a late-Romantic and thoroughly approachable though admittedly often complex style. Though Bax was a pianist with a commanding style, he chose to compose, rather than concertize. His personal life affected his compositions; he deserted his family and had a long, passionate love affair with the pianist Harriet Cohen, for whom he wrote several compositions for piano and orchestra. Harriet eventually discovered that he also had a second mistress; one can only imagine her reaction to that revelation! Both "Symphonic Variations" and "Concertante for Piano (Left Hand)," which Bax wrote for Harriet after she had injured her right hand, are available on other CDs, but not coupled together, as on this CD, which, being budget-priced, offers formidable competition to earlier recordings. The performances are excellent and the sound is clear with good balance between soloist and orchestra. Strongly recommended for those willing to explore Bax's music and wanting these two works on one CD.
Submitted on 11/26/09 by Ted Wilks 
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Works Details

>Bax, Arnold [Composer] : Symphonic Variations, for piano & orchestra in E major
  • Performer: Ashley Wass (Piano)
  • Conductor: James Judd
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: The Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole, England (05/21/2008-05/22/2008)
  • Running Time: 44 min. 29 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Written: 1918

>Bax, Arnold [Composer] : Concertante, for piano, left hand & orchestra
  • Performer: Ashley Wass (Piano)
  • Conductor: James Judd
  • Ensemble: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: The Concert Hall, Lighthouse, Poole, England (05/21/2008-05/22/2008)
  • Running Time: 22 min. 14 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Concerto
  • Written: 1949