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Thread: Arnold Bax

  1. #91
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Back to Bax... after going neck-deep in Thomson I'm giving Handley another chance with disc 3, #5 and 6... one would expect slower tempos from an older guy but not Vern... these symphonies are not easy to be cornered... whether by musician or listener... but after all these listens I no longer hear disconnected themes at all... I hear another Sibelius who is just a little harder to grasp... so I want to hear it again...

    I probably need to explore some more Nielson...
    Last edited by philoctetes; Jul-11-2020 at 05:39.

  2. #92
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I love Nielsen. He's his own man. Sounds like no one else. The Blomstedt/SF Symphony CDs in two volumes sound great!
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

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  4. #93
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    I like Bryden Thomsen's Bax recordings, and tend to slightly prefer them to Handley's for the most part; although some of Handley's recordings were very good (such as his "Spring Fire", for instance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UViIGvRTg4k ). But the most idiomatic conductor that I've heard in Bax--next to Sir Adrian Boult, is Norman del Mar. He's seems to be more deeply inside this music than others. The main drawback is that most of Del Mar's Bax recordings were made with the BBC Symphony Orchestra for radio broadcasts, & it wasn't a great orchestra back in the 1960s. In fact, the playing can be scrappy at times. Nevertheless, the conducting is fascinating. Del Mar seems to understand exactly were Bax's music needs to be more romantic & where it has a more mysterious Celtic flavor, and when it is surprisingly modern. I don't think the other conductors bring out the modernity in Bax's music quite as perceptively as Del Mar does (including Boult). It's a shame that one of the British classical labels didn't contract Del Mar to record all of Bax's Symphonies in the 1960s, 70s, or 80s, with a better orchestra. Granted, Del Mar did record the Bax 6th with the New Philharmonia in 1967, which has been released by Lyrita, & it is arguably one of the better performances of a Bax symphony on record. However, the other BBC performances must be heard on You Tube, at least I've never seen them commercially released. Does anyone know if they've ever been issued?

    Del Mar, Bax, Symphony no. 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaaAOTP8smw
    Del Mar, Bax, Symphony no. 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4aL5O5k3yo
    Del Mar, Bax, Symphony no. 6: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7iLxLO8KVU

    Symphony No. 6, on Lyrita: https://www.amazon.com/Symphony-6-SI...s=music&sr=1-3

    Other Bax radio broadcasts from Del Mar & the BBC Symphony Orchestra:

    Del Mar, Bax, Spring Fire: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niq-01FdR94
    Overture to a Picaresque Comedy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJLrITPoAfE

    Also, what do people think of Sir Edward Downes' Bax recordings? especially his recording of the 3rd Symphony? I can find his tempos a bit on the fast side, and it takes away from some of the mystery in this music, but I like Downes' interpretations as an alternative view. For instance, his 3rd is very different from Del Mar's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-bUEH4F5oc.

    By the way, Del Mar was also excellent in the music of Delius (Elgar, & Vaughan Williams).

    Examples of Del Mar conducting the music of Delius:
    https://www.amazon.com/Hearing-First...s=music&sr=1-7
    --The Walk to the Paradise Garden: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMnQ_js5GNg
    --Life's Dance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0lBTrD3Klg
    --Piano Concerto, with Philip Fowke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bu7gN6Acprc
    --Double Concerto for Violin & Cello:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4_kM21nXfU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4dmwvx75pc
    --The Magic Fountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1YMRCGGjeE

    So too was Eric Fenby, who worked closely with the blind Delius as his amanuensis between 1928 & 1934, during Delius's final years:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWO58FmUANU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELAv...Si_8tak130HWZ3

    Fenby, Delius: The Song of the High Hills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzvxM_qUtmk
    Fenby, Delius: A Song of Summer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usvU-3yYMpw

    https://www.amazon.com/Rhapsody-Fenn...s=music&sr=1-2
    https://www.amazon.com/Delius-Song-H...=music&sr=1-10

    I like Sir Thomas Beecham's Delius myself, but he does keep the music moving at slightly faster pace than others. Still, it is beautifully shaped. The earliest EMI CD remasters weren't great, sound-wise. Beecham's recordings sounded better on the British import EMI LPs. I don't know if the situation has changed; although probably not, since EMI is one of the worst labels when it comes to remastering their older catalogue (except for their Testament series).

    Finally, David Hurwitz was raving about Eugene Ormandy's Delius with the Philadelphia Orchestra several weeks ago, and I agree that it's worth hearing the old Philadelphia Orchestra play this music (though I'm not usually a big Ormandy fan myself, with some exceptions): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZbEXRbIilU

    Yet, for me, Sir Adrian Boult remains the conductor of choice for pre-WW2 British composers.

    Boult, Bax, Tintagel, a BBC radio broadcast from 1962: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IHUJjjGA0Y
    Boult, Bax,, Tintagel, London Philharmonic, Pristine Audio, from 1954: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbTD_YvfqJI
    Boult, Bax, Northern Ballad no. 1, London Philharmonic, Lyrita, 1972: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qLsh0xc_Wg
    Boult, Bax, Lyrita CD: https://www.amazon.com/Bax-Northern-...s=music&sr=1-2

    As with Del Mar, it's a shame that Boult wasn't contracted to record more Bax, especially during the stereo era. I expect a cycle of Bax symphonies by Boult would have swept the board.
    Last edited by Josquin13; Jul-12-2020 at 03:33.

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  6. #94
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    I really gotta get on this Lyrita stuff. Seems they've put out tons of recordings worth listening to.

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  8. #95
    Senior Member starthrower's Avatar
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    I got the Lyrita Alwyn symphonies from Discogs. Both brand new CDs for 5 bucks each. And I have one of their Rubbra discs of symphonies 6 & 8 which I really enjoy.
    “Music makes you feel feelings. Words make you think thoughts. But a song can make you feel a thought.”

    - Yip Harburg

  9. #96
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    I really gotta get on this Lyrita stuff. Seems they've put out tons of recordings worth listening to.
    Lyrita is to Bax, Finzi, Alwyn etc... what Crystal is to Hovhaness... authoritative tube-age stereo recordings that are still hard to beat... I just got the Alwyn concerto disc for a steal and would like the add the Alwyn #2

    Alwyn, Simpson, Nielsen are all getting a kickback from my Bax and Delius wallow... which actually started with RVW... I'well never gone this far into British 20c before cause Elgar and Holst never did much for me... and Walton seems also well skilled but a bit frigid... but I heard that Egdon Heath by Holst recently and liked that, after seeing it compared to Bax... I guess it's the more impressionist stuff I like, to a point... Finzi and Bantock are in that vein but don't really hold my interest, not enough complexity...
    Last edited by philoctetes; Jul-12-2020 at 03:34.

  10. #97
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    btw, the last two Lyritas I bought were CD-Rs, which dampens my enthusiasm for that label a bit... they are full price in most listings... so buyer beware...
    Last edited by philoctetes; Jul-12-2020 at 03:36.

  11. #98
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Del Mar's Delius for Chandos is part of that deceptive-looking Essential Delius coupled with Handley and Hickox... I'm still introducing my ears to his Bax... his strings are the bomb...

  12. #99
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Exploring Nielsen I find Bryden Thomson once gain sounds pretty good on Spotify... and Vanska with #1 and 6... a coupling I know from the Blomstedt series... #1 sounds like Dvorak to me... and #6 is just far out,... they make a nice pair...

  13. #100
    Senior Member flamencosketches's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by philoctetes View Post
    btw, the last two Lyritas I bought were CD-Rs, which dampens my enthusiasm for that label a bit... they are full price in most listings... so buyer beware...
    What were they? So I can avoid them...

  14. #101
    Senior Member philoctetes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flamencosketches View Post
    What were they? So I can avoid them...
    Bax #2 & 5 and Alwyn conducting his concertos... the Bax #1 & 7 was OK... and I think my favorite of the two... bracketing his symphonic career which was mature from the start...

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