Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Sir Arnold Bax, Thomson, London Philharmonic Orchestra|
Bax: Winter Legends / Saga Fragment
Sir Arnold Bax is best known for writing colorful, if occasionally somber, tone poems. Even his symphonies have been accused of being extended examples of this genre. What we have on this disc are two tone poems for pian... more »
Sir Arnold Bax is best known for writing colorful, if occasionally somber, tone poems. Even his symphonies have been accused of being extended examples of this genre. What we have on this disc are two tone poems for piano and orchestra--two of Bax's very best works. The London Philharmonic Orchestra has never seemed so fired up by the spirit of these works. Margaret Fingerhut on the piano is quite good--although these aren't works designed for exhibiting a soloist's skills, so we never get to hear Fingerhut's true range. But no matter. This remains one of the best releases in Chandos's entire Bax series. --Paul Cook
Dark northern tales!
K. Farrington | Missegre, France | 03/27/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"With a crashing, hammering drum rhythm, the 'Winter Legends' start with a darkly pointed piano run that gives an impression of a hero running through a night snowscape from ravening wolves. That is how I see the beginning of the major work on this CD, probably anyone else would see it differently but the important thing about it is that it is compelling and Bax must have been delighted with it. The moods, the changes in direction are rhapsodic in the first movement which probably account for the ambiguous title with respect to its form. I feel Bax was totally driven by the need to compose the music and kept true to his inner artistic inspiration rather than shoe-horn the work into a conventional structure. The work is a 'cross-over' between a symphony (its three movement structure) a piano concerto (the forces used) and a tone poem (the background inspiration). It was written for his old time lover Harriet Cohen although by now Bax appreciated her music making skills alone. It is a tour de force of fast runs and hard dark notes which must have contrasted with the small elegant woman playing such music, a dramatic feature for the concert audience. The second movement is darker hued with more work for the soloist who muses a sad tale against a more muted orchestra. Ernest Newman said that Bax might have told us what legends Bax was referring to but is is missing the point here I believe. The fact is that Bax picks up nuances of atmosphere and gives us almost subliminal shots of what these legends told in terms of universals and not in respect of particulars. This is Bax at his very best (1929) and this CD does full justice to this first rate work. The mood softens from time to time and we bathe in the gently intoning horn against those soft impressionistic strings and yearning woodwind that climbs like columbine until the piano takes us thrillingly to the gate of the darkness once more. The music fights but sure enough the darkness reappears and the true horrors that Bax wanted to depict return to haunt us again. The Saga Fragment is a lesser work but nonetheless is still top notch Bax being an arrangemt for piano and orchestra of his Piano Quartet of 1922. Harriet Cohen held the performing rights of these works until her death on the 1960's and I believe that this acted as a disincentive to performers to the present day. This is really a shame for concert halls would really thrill to this stirring, thrilling music. Fingerhut and Thomson give it all they have got and that is all we want!"