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Bax: Symphony No 3, Etc / Thomson, London Philharmonic


Release Date: 10/28/1992 
Label:  Chandos   Catalog #: 8454   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 0 Hours 59 Mins. 

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This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.

Notes and Editorial Reviews

From the very beginning Bryden Thomson has just the right approach: restrained until the music bursts into life, then tender and meditative as the energy recedes. The climax at the end of the first movement is especially well handled.

"It is not difficult to appreciate from this performance why the Third Symphony, dedicated to Sir Henry Wood, became so popular in the 1930s. From the very beginning Bryden Thomson has just the right approach: restrained until the music bursts into life, then tender and meditative as the energy recedes. The climax at the end of the first movement is especially well handled. Many have been tempted to construct a program – no doubt there is a connection with the sea, akin to the
Read more references in the Fourth Symphony, Tintagel, of which there are undeniable echoes in the second movement, or The Garden of Fand – but Thomson is content to let the music speak for itself. Bax prefaced the short score with a quotation from Nietzsche – “My wisdom became pregnant on lonely mountains; upon barren stones she brought forth her young” – and Morar, where the work was composed is twixt the mountains and the sea, but he seems to have thought better of this quotation and suppressed it from the full score. The seascape on the Chandos cover offers just the right hint for the music, though the Naxos cover is the more tasteful.

The horn and trumpet calls at the beginning of the second movement are certainly evocative, but of what? Trumpets calling from sad shires, perhaps, like those in Vaughan Williams’s Pastoral Symphony – but now I’m getting involved in the game of finding the programme. Michael Oliver found himself doing something similar in his 1986 review, though along different lines. He attributed his yielding to the temptation to the eloquence and richness of Thomson’s performance, a sentiment with which I thoroughly agree.

A lento second movement immediately after a lento moderato opening movement could easily sound like too much of a good thing, but Bax makes it otherwise, with Bryden Thomson’s help. The jaunty opening of the finale could easily be overdone but Thomson resists the temptation: here, as elsewhere, his tempi seem to fit the music like a glove. As a result, the Epilogue still sounds ethereal and beautiful, but no longer seems disjoined from the rest of the movement. No doubt Vernon Handley is even more successful in this respect in his more recent version, available on CD with the complete symphonies or as a download, coupled with the First Symphony, over 74 minutes in total...

Most Baxians will already have a version of The Happy Forest – coupled, for example, on a very recommendable and attractively priced Bryden Thomson CD, with Tintagel, The Garden of Fand, etc., CHAN10156X; the two Chandos fillers here are much less well-known, though both are well worth hearing. With some good PR work, either could easily become really popular – who would have thought that Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending would have become so popular had it not been plugged on Classic FM?

Wild Irravel, the last of a set of Four Orchestral Sketches, lay forgotten until revived by Bryden Thomson for this recording. Like Pæan, originally conceived as a piano piece and orchestrated for the Henry Wood Jubilee, it employs large forces, including bells and organ. Both works are well performed here.

It is right and proper that these shorter works should be placed first, since the moody opening of the symphony’s first movement is all the more effective for following such boisterous works. Of course, it is possible – but a nuisance – to program the order of the tracks whether playing the music from hard drive, mp3 player or from CD, the latter being my preferred option – simplicity itself to burn with Windows Media Player or, better still, a dedicated programme such as Roxio Disc Creator."

- Brian Wilson, MusicWeb International, [Excerpted review]
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Works on This Recording

1.
Dance of Wild Irravel by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1912-1913; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1986 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting, London 
Length: 5 Minutes 25 Secs. 
2.
Paean by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1920/1938; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1986 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting, London 
Length: 3 Minutes 19 Secs. 
Notes: Orchestrated: Arnold Bax (1938) 
3.
Symphony no 3 by Arnold Bax
Conductor:  Bryden Thomson
Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1929; England 
Date of Recording: 01/1986 
Venue:  All Saints' Church, Tooting, London 
Length: 49 Minutes 37 Secs. 

Sound Samples

Dance of Wild Irravel
Paean (version for orchestra)
Symphony No. 3: I. Lento moderato
Symphony No. 3: II. Lento
Symphony No. 3: III. Moderato - Epilogue: Poco lento

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