<< -- 2 -- Ron Bierman A PLEASANT SURPRISE
The latest stop in the Maggini's tour of 20th Century British composers
is Arnold Bax -- and it's another winner. Bax is far better known for
his overtures and symphonies. Since form wasn't his strong point in
works for full orchestra, I was curious to hear what he'd done in a
medium where structure and the interplay of lines are more apparent. His
coherent and classical-sounding approach was a pleasant surprise.
Bax's first quartet was completed in 1918, the second in 1925. No 1
has attractive melodies and an Irish feel that goes from lively to sentimental
and back. It is an easy-going entertainment and was quite popular between
the two World Wars. No 2 is longer and more serious in tone with a heavier
reliance on contrapuntal techniques. The first movement begins with an unusual
extended cello solo. The other instruments join in gradually. Throughout
the work Bax takes his time. Ideas are developed thoroughly and with intelligence.
No 2 is the more challenging work, but I can see why No 1 was more popular,
and I suspect it will be played more often by buyers of this disk.
The Maggini gives enthusiastic, first-class performances. Some might
at times prefer a more astringent string tone, but I think the sound matches
the music. I recommend the recording to those who are looking for conservative,
melodic 20th Century works outside the standard repertoire. Buyers of previous
Maggini recordings won't need much urging.
Copyright © 2 October 2002
Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM AMAZON
PURCHASE THIS DISC FROM CROTCHET
DAVID THOMPSON LISTENS TO ARNOLD BAX
CELTIC TWILIGHT - ROBERT ANDERSON WRITES ABOUT BAX
BAX CHAMBER MUSIC, WITH BILL NEWMAN
Bax: String Quartets Nos 1 and 2
8.555282 DDD Stereo 2001 HNH International
The Maggini Quartet
Arnold Bax: String Quartet No 1 in G (1918); String Quartet No 2 in A minor (1925)