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Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
Trio for Violin, Cello and Piano in B flat (1946):
(Allegro con brio [6:20]; Adagio (alia breve) con moto [8:02]; Tempo moderate
e molto ritmico [0:38])
Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in D (1934):
(Molto moderato [8:48]; Vivace [4:54])
Folk-Tale for Cello and Piano (1918) - Moderate tempo [8:08]
Clarinet Sonata in E major (1901): Allegro moderato [8:59]
Romance for Clarinet and Piano (1901): Andante con moto – Allegretto [7:47]
Trio in One Movement for Piano, Violin and Clarinet (1906) [17:08]:
(Allegro vivace - Andante con moto -Molto largamente -Tempo di Valse - Piu lento
pochissimo grazioso – Prestissimo)
Robert Plane (clarinet);
Gould Piano Trio (Lucy Gould (violin); Alice Neary (cello);
Benjamin Frith (piano))
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, UK, 21-23 December 2004 NAXOS 8.557698 [76:44]
This truly delightful disc from Naxos contains
a broad spectrum of chamber music by Arnold Bax. They range
from works written when he was a student at the Royal Academy
of Music - and which he later suppressed - to the last chamber
piece he composed (in 1946), the Trio for Violin, Cello
and Piano in B flat, with which the disc opens.
The Trio was written for the Harry Isaacs piano
trio, who had asked Bax to compose something for their forthcoming
Wigmore concert. Bax initially refused, saying that the medium
of piano trio was too hard, then changed his mind. This is
an innovative and unusual piece, wonderfully characterful
and with hints of Peter Warlock and shades of jazz in some
of the harmonies and rhythms. The opening, quite passionate, Allegro
con brio, is followed by a gentle and romantic second
movement Adagio (alia breve) con moto and the work
concludes with a lively and slightly more discordant Tempo
moderato e molto ritmico.
The ensuing Clarinet
Sonata was composed in 1934, and dedicated to Hugh Prew, a
fellow player in Bax’s brother’s cricket team and an amateur
clarinetist. It is an evocative and interesting work, and sensitively
The Folk Tale is deeply romantic and evocative,
nostalgic and wistful, and contains some radiant and passionate
playing from cellist Alice Neary. It was premiered, only
a few weeks after completion, by Bax himself with Salmond
- who also gave the premiere of Elgar’s cello concerto -
at the Wigmore Hall. Bax later dedicated the work to Salmond.
Back to the clarinet with the next piece, for
the second clarinet sonata on this disc, written in 1901.
This is another charming, romantic work, expressively performed.
Although this clarinet sonata is in one movement, the Romance that
follows could have been intended as a second movement. The Romance is
an impassioned little piece that opens and ends gently.
The disc concludes with the Trio in One Movement,
which was scored for piano, violin and viola – probably due
to the influence of Lionel Tertis, but Bax instructed that
the viola part can be played on clarinet. This fantastic
piece was dedicated to the Irish composer Rowan-Hamilton.
It contains strong hints of Irish folk music, and is full
of vigorous joy and the vibrancy of life, brought out well
in this outstanding performance.
The Gould Piano Trio’s playing is confident, assured,
characterful and sensitive, and they bring out the tremendous
sense of fun in these works. Although there are other - also
excellent - recordings of these works, at a budget price
this disc, where a good combination of brilliant and beautiful
works are so well-played, can’t be beaten.
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