Sir Andrew Davis is among the most distinguished interpreters of British music today and here turns to the works of Sir Arnold Bax. With the inclusion of the Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra, this album marks the completion of Chandos’s long project to record Bax’s complete orchestral music over time.
Sir Andrew Davis is among the most distinguished interpreters of British music today and here turns to the works of Sir Arnold Bax. With the inclusion of the Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra, this album marks the completion of Chandos’s long project to record Bax’s complete orchestral music over time. Born in 1883 into a wealthy family in London, Arnold Bax began a love affair with Ireland as a young man. He moved there in 1911 and his Four Orchestral Pieces from 1912 – 13 are deeply influenced by the landscape of the countryside near his Dublin home. The first three are better known in revised versions, from 1928, as Three Pieces for Small Orchestra. Here ‘The Dance of Wild Irravel’ joins the other three movements for the premiere recording of the four Pieces as Bax originally conceived and orchestrated them.
The latest release in Hallé’s award winning series of recordings of works by Elgar couples his last great choral work with a fascinating collection of works which similarly remember the departed. Previous Elgar choral releases of The Dream of Gerontius (CDHLD7520), The Kingdom (HLD7526) and The Apostles (CDHLD7534) were universally acclaimed, winning numerous awards, including a Gramophone Award for each release. The largely overlooked The Spirit of England is arguably Elgar’s last great choral work. Thematically linked to The Dream of Gerontius the work sets texts from WWI poets and was premiered in sections during 1916 and 1917. In tone it is close to the melancholy of the Cello Concerto and Britten referred to its music as displaying “a personal tenderness and grief” as well as “genuine splendour”.
Simon Rattle has recorded a lot of 19th century music and most of the results have been dismal. There is little to recommend by Rattle in pre-20th century repertoire. A few Haydn symphonies, some pretty good Brahms, bits of Mahler, Ein Heldenleben by Strauss which is just at the cusp of the 20th century. Alright, so Rattle is not the conductor to go to for the great classics. However, when he records modern music, he seems fully in tune with it's sound and style, plus he has less competition on the market to boot.
Some years ago a distinguished music professor said to me, "You must go and see Doktor Faust at English National Opera - you'll hear a second rank composer at the height of his powers". Backhanded though this compliment may seem, it was clearly conveyed with a spirit admiration and perhaps a tinge of surprise.