One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,670 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  



AmazonUK  ArchivMusik (USA sales only)


Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano in B flat (1946) [20:59]
Clarinet Sonata in D (1934) [13:44]
Folk-Tale for Cello and Piano (1918) [8:00]
Clarinet Sonata in E (1901) [9:00]
Romance for Clarinet and Piano (1901) [7:48]
Trio in One Movement for Piano, Violin and Clarinet (1906) [17:12]
Robert Plane (clarinet)
The Gould Trio Ė Lucy Gould (violin), Alice Neary (cello) Benjamin Frith (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 21-23 December 2004
NAXOS 8.557698 [76:51]


Naxosís commitment to English music continues with this typically well-filled and intelligently programmed disc of Bax chamber music, coupling familiar and unfamiliar works. Indeed, three of the pieces are world premiere recordings and add that bit of extra spice to an already attractive selection of music.

The disc works in reverse order, as it were, opening with the composerís final chamber offering. The very fine Piano Trio in B flat is full of mature Bax fingerprints, the sort that can be heard in other works of this period. Itís a generally warm and lyrical piece, reminiscent in places of Dvořak, whose chamber music Bax admired. The first movementís energy, derived mainly from the persistent Scotch snap rhythm, is countered with a broad, nostalgic slow movement that these players do full justice to with lovely phrasing and a passionate central climax. The quicksilver finale, with its virtuosic piano writing and dry humour, is cheekily despatched, Ben Frith enjoying himself all the way.

The mature Clarinet Sonata of 1934 has proved to be one of Baxís most enduring and popular chamber works. Premiered by Frederick Thurston and Harriet Cohen, there are a number of fine version already in the catalogue, notably those by Emma Johnson and Michael Collins. Robert Plane, whose Naxos Finzi disc is one of my favourites, is well up there with the best and he strikes a wonderfully natural rapport with Frith. The many subtleties in the piece are well realized, especially the chromatic, almost Scriabin-like harmonic meanderings in the second movement. Planeís tone is beautifully graded and the whole performance oozes class and distinction.

Next up is the surprisingly powerful 8-minute Folk Tale for cello and piano of 1918, dedicated to Felix Salmond and first performed by him with the composer at the piano. The cello writing is masterly and the mood by turns wistful, brooding and elegiac, all well conveyed in Alice Nearyís supple cello playing.

The three Ďdiscoveredí works come from Baxís student days and are certainly delightful finds, even if none of them are earth shattering. The early Clarinet Sonata in E from 1901 is now only in a one-movement form and is solidly constructed is a very Brahmsian mould. The Romance of the same year never really loses those same European origins but the later one-movement Clarinet Trio shows a distinctive voice emerging from the Debussian haze. Celtic folk elements are discernible but the writing, especially the muscular piano part, is delightful and the piece is undoubtedly well worth hearing, especially in such an elegant and stylish performance as here.

The recording quality is typical Potton Hall, warm, detailed and well balanced and the liner notes by Lewis Foreman (who else?) very informative, even if the music is discussed in chronological order of composition, the opposite of the playing order on the disc. All in all, a Bax chamber recital to cherish.

Tony Haywood


AmazonUK  ArchivMusik (USA sales only)





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.