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<<  -- 2 --  David Thompson    SPEAKING FOR ITSELF


With a total playing time of just under forty minutes for the symphony, there is room for two other quite substantial shorter works. The Overture to a Picaresque Comedy is a diverting piece of light music, whose mood is set up by the boisterous opening [listen -- track 1, 0:03-0:53]. Those familiar with the overtures to Bernstein's Candide, or Kabalevsky's Colas Breugnon will know what to expect. It is the slower, more romantic music that ultimately leaves one in no doubt as to the composer's identity. Nympholept takes us into Bax's familiar world of paganism, mythical creatures and enchanted forests in an opulent and highly evocative tone-poem. Although a much earlier work than the symphony or overture, (it derives from a piano piece of 1912) it is a fully assured and most enjoyable work.

But the symphony is the thing here. Its inspiration is the sea, in its majestic immensity. Listen to the sheer exhilarating energy of the first movement, and my 'go with the flow' philosophy will surely carry the listener away on a heady, but sunlit evocation of animate nature in all its raw magnificence, culminating in the gloriously over-the-top final bars [listen -- track 3, 14:50-16:00], where Bax lets his immense orchestra, underpinned by full organ, have its head in a shattering and glorious peroration.

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Copyright © 19 June 2002 David Thompson, Eastwood, Essex, UK


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