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Arnold BAX (1883-1953)
Sonata for Viola and Piano (1922) [22:37]
Concert Piece for Viola and Piano (1904) [12:30]
Legend for Viola and Piano (1929) [9:26]
Trio in one movement (1906) [16:29]
Laurence Jackson (violin), Julian Rolton (piano)
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 20-22 February 2005. DDD
NAXOS 8.557784 [61:03]
is perhaps best known for his seven symphonies and rather
epic tone poems, yet he also composed a good deal of chamber
music. All of Bax’s viola works were written for the great
violist Lionel Tertis, who was at that time (the early twentieth
century), encouraging composers of the day to write more
works for the viola. It was an instrument that rather took
an – undeserved - back seat as far as solo works were concerned.
disc opens with the Viola Sonata. It dates from 1922, a year
after Bax had composed a Concerto, later re-named Phantasy,
for viola - again, for Tertis. The Sonata was given its première
in the Aeolian Hall in London with Tertis and Bax. Here,
Martin Outram and Julian Rolton give a sympathetic performance
of a complex work. Being fairly virtuosic in parts, with
a frenzied scherzo and an atmospheric last movement, the
piece enables the performers to demonstrate not just their
understanding and love of the music, but also their technical
abilities, which they do superbly.
Piece was composed in 1904. The young composer was
obsessed with Ireland and everything Irish, and commented
of this work “It will be observed that a Celtic element
predominates, free use being made of the flattened seventh,
the falling intervals of the pentatonic scale and other
features peculiar to Irish folk music." Bax himself
again gave the first performance later that same year,
with Tertis, in the Aeolian Hall. With its wonderful combination
of manic energy and lyricism, both the work, and the performance
on this disc are spirited.
The Legend was
Bax’s last completed work for viola. It is an introspective
piece with some dark and severe moments but also some lighter
episodes – here, again, beautifully played.
Trio in One Movement concludes the disc. It is, like the Concert
Piece, an early work, probably dating from 1906. Martin
Outram and Julian Rolton are joined by Laurence Jackson on
violin, in a lively performance of an exuberant work.
is some really lovely - and sometimes unusual - music here,
given top-class performances.
see also reviews by Jonathan
Barfoot and Michael
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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