Music and Vision homepage Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller

 

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Themes move in other directions during the Moderato Finale, a jaunty dotted tune in clarinets/violas linked to a counterpoint figure in bass clarinet/bassoon soon transferred to other instruments with a real sense of giocoso interplay, while strings, other winds, horns and trumpets inject their own brand of fun into the proceedings. Note the bucolic, slurring tune on oboes/clarinets [listen - track 3, 2:38-3:38] - doesn't this remind you of Malcolm Arnold's Scottish Dances? Once the jollity has died out, comes the Epilogue poco lento, just over eight pages of strings, winds and brass sharing the C major melody and accompaniment, a solo violin interpolating a short cadenza before the final statement. Right at the end, horns, trumpets, trombones intone the symphony's opening phrase - we have returned full circle.

Barbirolli's British Council 78rpm discs with the Hallé Orchestra, now on an EMI CD, should not be ignored. Like Bax 7 at a Royal Philharmonic Society concert, it contains his passionate commitment to the cause of great symphonic writing, compelling our closest attention. The imaginative Bryden Thomson with the London Philharmonic on Chandos is hampered by an over-reverberant acoustic, but David Lloyd Jones and the Royal Scottish Orchestra spontaneously reach new poetic-dramatic heights in their latest recording, although I had to increase the volume level on my Quad 306.

The Happy Forest, based on a Herbert Farjeon prose-poem, depicts shepherds competing for their verses, Pan suddenly appearing to 'dance' them away into the distance. In the course of nine minutes and 35 seconds, Bax enters the world of Mallarmé and Debussy to create a tapestry of instrumental delights that charms the ears. An inspired coupling.

 

Copyright © 11 November 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

 

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BILL NEWMAN'S REVIEW OF BAX CHAMBER MUSIC

 

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