Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Bax, Handley, Rpo|
Enchanted Summer / Walsinghame / Fatherland
Genres: Folk, Classical
Even though Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953) was prolific in his career, he wrote little choral music and no operas or solo vocal pieces. No one knows why, considering that Bax's music, in whatever mode, always adhered to very c... more »
Listen to Samples
Even though Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953) was prolific in his career, he wrote little choral music and no operas or solo vocal pieces. No one knows why, considering that Bax's music, in whatever mode, always adhered to very coherent melodies and themes, de rigueur for most vocal works in the Romantic or post-Romantic vein. The works on this release--from Bax's early and middle period--should really be seen as tone poems with the chorus and soloists as pleasant additions to the orchestra's palette. However, the choral lines tend to blur, a product of recording ambience. Still, Bax completests will want this. --Paul Cook
Bax's choral works lack necessary choral strength
K. Farrington | Missegre, France | 03/30/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is a must for every Bax fan and it may also have interest for lovers of music of the kind of Delius' large works for chorus and orchestra like 'Songs of Sunset' or 'Songs of Farewell'. The recording is not without its problems, however. The orchestra, the RPO conducted by Vernon Handley, the Bax conductor par excellence, sounds great. There is much lovely early Bax music here, for example in 'Enchanted Summer', a setting of words from Shelley's 'Prometheus Unbound'. Here we have a musical depiction of an Arcadian landscape peopled by Fauns, Wood Spirits and Nereids. Bax attempts to tap into that mythical world that moved Shelley and other romantics when they looked back into Classical Antiquity with the intellectual apparatus of the 18th and 19th centuries. Actually Bax did not need the words of Shelley or anyone else to underpin his musical creation. He does the same thing without words with the same Arcadian vision in 'Spring Fire' or with the fairy magic of that eternal summer afternoon in 'The Happy Forest'. These pure orchestral works which use Bax's unrivalled skill as a tone poet per se are to my mind more sucessful than the choral because the music flow in the former is as Bax's vision came to him, nothing more and nothing less. He is not 'clothes-pegging' words and rhythm and hence composing notes according to an a priori script in these works and can therefore freely use his rampant imagination on a 'tabula rasa'. Nevertheless the work is very beautiful. However, the choral quality throughout the CD is too thin and reverberant, making the vocal line attack sound shaky and the climaxes lacking in body and clarity. I cannot fathom if this is due to the way the recording was set up by the engineers, the lack of strength of the choral body itself or a combination of the two factors but this feature detracts from the total CD quality. In a work like Debussy's 'Sirenes' from his 'Nocturnes' or in Ravel's 'Daphnis et Chloe', this hazy quality may be appropriate but not here. The best work on the CD is the setting of Sir Walter Raleigh's poem 'Walsinghame', a threnody on the onset of old age. Bax had split up with Harriet Cohen in 1926 when he wrote this piece and must have been really upset at the outcome of his 'grande amour' to produce such a powerful setting of the ageing Elizabethan courtiers's words. This work is 17 minutes long but is as good as anything choral by the English tradition of Vaughan Williams et al. The words and music perfectly compliment one another much more than in the other works here. Fatherland is a lesser work by comparison with the other two but is welcome to complete any true Baxian's need for a complete set of all his works. However, it must lose one star for the lack of choral clarity despite being really welcome in my collection."
This has been remastered and reissued.
tjguitar | 05/04/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just a heads up, this original release may be out of print, but the recordings have been reiussed (and remastered) by Chandos for $13.98. Bax: Enchanted Summer: Walsinghame; Fatherland