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Bax: Tone Poems / Handley, Bbc Philharmonic


Release Date: 04/18/2006 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 10362   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BAX In the Faery Hills . November Woods . The Garden of Fand. Sinfonietta ? Vernon Handley, cond; BBC PO ? CHANDOS CHAN 10362 (75:44)


Sir Arnold Bax is an important late Romantic composer whose music is essentially neglected at a time when fresh and imaginative orchestral programming is desperately needed. Think of the many times you have attended a concert Read more when a totally faceless and mediocre piece of modern music is played in an attempt to placate critical demand for new music. Then imagine how a world-class orchestra would sound playing Bax?s dramatically compelling, highly melodic, and brilliantly orchestrated music. Yet it almost never appears in concerts outside of England.


Vernon Handley has long been a champion of late Romantic and modern English music in general, and Bax in particular. His widely acclaimed album of the complete Bax Symphonies appeared on many Want Lists recently. Handley consistently stresses the importance of existing underlying form, even in Bax?s most floridly Romantic and seemingly rhapsodic, as opposed to symphonic music. In the symphonies, he moves the music along and refuses to pause and luxuriate in the sumptuous orchestration. This approach generally works well, but is potentially problematic in that it de-emphasizes the ravishing beauty of the critical epilogues of the Third and Sixth Symphonies that may well represent the very essence of Bax. This approach would seem to be even less applicable to the colorfully orchestrated tone poems. Not to worry. This recording is a knockout. Handley takes November Woods at a basically slow tempo that gives plenty of time to emphasize the lush orchestration but does not permit the underlying tension to slacken. The Garden of Fand is simply gorgeous. Handley?s expansive reading manages to find the structural backbone and emphasize forward momentum without sacrificing the poetry and innate beauty in the melodies and rich but transparent orchestration. He even outdoes Sir Adrian Boult here. In the Faery Hills is an orchestral Scherzo in the form of a tone poem. Handley maintains interest throughout the lightly orchestrated piece, but it would benefit from more nimble woodwinds. The rarely heard Sinfonietta (also known as the Symphonic Phantasy) is a unique three-movement piece that pretty much sounds like everything else that Bax wrote, but is not quite as richly Romantic as the large tone poems or as structurally grand as the symphonies. It is an abstract work without a specific program, but never seems stylistically very far from Bax?s seascapes or nature pieces.


This CD has some of the best sound I have ever heard from Chandos. It is luxuriant in texture, and has plenty of fine instrumental detail with none of the hyper-reverberant harshness that characterizes many Chandos recordings. The warm and deep bass drum is heard to great effect in The Garden of Fand and November Woods . This is highly recommended in every conceivable way. One hopes Handley will continue to record the rest of Bax?s tone poems and orchestral music for Chandos.


FANFARE: Arthur Lintgen
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Works on This Recording

1.
In the faery hills by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1909; England 
2.
Garden of Fand by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1913-1916; England 
3.
November Woods by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; England 
4.
Sinfonietta by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Vernon Handley
Orchestra/Ensemble:  BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1932; England 

Sound Samples

In the Faery Hills
November Woods
The Garden of Fand
Sinfonietta: I. Alla breve
Sinfonietta: II. Andante con moto
Sinfonietta: III. Allegro

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