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Celtic twilight

Listening to Arnold Bax -
with ROBERT ANDERSON

'... there is a welcome simplicity and integrity about the playing.'

Arnold Bax: Three Violin Sonatas. (c) 2001 ASV Ltd

 

Arnold Bax (1883-1953) always wrote ten notes where one might do, so that his Celtic twilight gives the impression the sun may never set. There are, of course, lovely, radiant, and luxurious noises along the way, for which there is certainly room in an increasingly naughty and brutal world. If the music preaches a Romanticism become over-ripe, it comes as a surprise that all three of these sonatas date from the 1920s. No 2 was originally conceived during the First World War, but by then Bax had become a Dubliner, and perhaps his most cogently expressed utterance went into his poetry about the Easter Rising of 1916. Not even the second movement of the sonata, The Grey Dancer in the Twilight, which suggests a thoroughly pleasurable dance of death, hints at the terror of the times [listen -- track 2, 1:09-2:08]. More effective is the Allegro feroce of the finale, which generates considerable momentum before ending in exhaustion, as so often with Bax [listen -- track 4, 5:29-6:26].

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Copyright © 3 November 2001 Robert Anderson, London, UK

 

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CD INFORMATION - ASV CD DCA 1098

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