• ‘From the Hills of Dream’ The forgotten songs of Arnold Bax

    Superlative liner notes from Graham Parlett, added to full texts and a loving presentation from EM Records, make ‘From the Hills of Dream’ an attractive prospect. But does the music of Bax’s forgotten songs justify such quality treatment? Christopher Webber asks the question …

  • ‘London Nights’ – Review

    ‘London Nights’ – Review

    An absorbing recital of English piano music, from the acclaimed Schubert specialist Franzisca Lee on the Capriccio label, is bookended by two, great 1st Sonatas: Tippett’s coming-of-age breakthrough and Bax’s Russian-inspired confessional dominate her programme, which also includes substantial works by Britten, Bridge and Ireland. Christopher Webber reviews…

  • The Holy Boy – CD review

    If you are looking for a perfect stocking-stuffer for your music-loving friend who also has a liking for British song and composers, then I’ve got the perfect suggestion for you.  Bass-Baritone Timothy Dickinson and pianist Duncan Honeybourne have combined their considerable talents to create a gorgeous disc of yuletide songs by British composers that features some well-known favorites alongside a few rarities including a selection of little-known carol arrangements by Arnold Bax. 

  • Frank Merrick – The Legacy Recordings

    Harriet Cohen’s influence on Sir Arnold Bax’s music was arguably greatest on his piano music for which she was his muse and frequent dedicatee as well as constant performer. It is therefore surprising that she recorded so little of it commercially aside from the Viola Sonata with William Primrose and a handful of piano miniatures. There also exists a live recording of Winter Legends from a BBC broadcast but sadly none of her performances of the piano sonatas were captured either on vinyl or tape. While many have claimed she was a pianist of limited ability (superb in Bach but compromised in pieces requiring a more formidable technique), she still possessed an understanding of Bax’s music that she acquired from having known the composer on very intimate terms for much of their lives. She also imposed an unofficial ban on others performing his piano music, which of course prevented it from being played and recorded by pianists who might have been better able to promote it during Bax’s lifetime. As a result, we have very few recordings of Bax’s piano music recorded during the composer’s life but we are lucky to again be able to hear one set of the sonatas and selected piano pieces played by a friends and contemporary of the composer who understood his intentions and whose playing of these major works deserves to be described as authoritative.

  • Review by Christopher Webber – Frank Merrick and Henry Holst play Bax Violin Sonatas, etc.

    Frank Merrick & Henry Holst (Nimbus Grand Piano, 4 CD set) Hot on the heels of Nimbus’s Frank Merrick: A Recorded Legacy, a bumper box of 9 CDs centred on the pianist’s pioneering recordings of Bax’s sonatas and a handful of shorter works – including Paean which was dedicated to him – comes this equally valuable supplement for piano and violin. Merrick’s partner throughout 4 CDs of underexposed 20th c. repertoire is the Danish violinist Henry Holst, a pupil of Carl Nielsen who led the pre-war Berlin Philharmonic under Furtwängler and went on to become principal professor of violin at the Royal Manchester College of Music for thirty years, while continuing his high-profile career as an orchestral leader and soloist.

  • The Trio Partout plays Bax, Debussy, Harald Genzmer and Johannes Maria Staud.

    Play of Colours (Farbenspiel) Trio Partout. The reason Bax’s Elegiac Trio has been recorded so frequently – more often than any other of his works excepting Tintagel and the Clarinet Sonata – has something to do with its delectable brevity, but more to do with the fact that it makes an ideal companion to Debussy’s famous sonata for the same, unusual forces. Because the English work was written one year after the French, the assumption has often been made that its composer was consciously writing an hommage: but Graham Parlett’s recent examination of composition, performance and publication dates suggests strongly that Bax could not have heard Debussy’s masterly sonata (or studied the score) before writing his own. The near-simultaneous appearance of these lovely works may well have been happy chance.

  • Review by Graham Parlett – Natalia Williams-Wandoch plays piano music by Sir Arnold Bax

    Piano Music by Arnold Bax on Usk Recordings. Hot on the heels of Mark Bebbington’s ‘Private Passions’ comes another splendid CD that also contains works that have never been recorded before. Natalia Williams-Wandoch has been playing the pieces included here at recitals over the past few years, and it was good news when we learned that she had decided to record them for the Usk label in January 2018. With a single exception—the slow movement of the Sonata in B flat—these are all world premières, and for that reason alone will be required listening for Bax enthusiasts.

  • Review by Christopher Webber: Private Passions

    Piano music by Arnold Bax and Harriet Cohen. Strangely, the only pieces here to be published in their own time were Cohen’s four, brief Russian Impressions, and I wish I could report that they were better than pleasant makeweights. I’m glad to have heard this first recording, but nothing in these derivative, oddly directionless miniatures made me eager to revisit Cohen the composer. As Germaine Greer puts it, mediocrity is mediocrity, even where its creator is female. Let’s be grateful that Harriet Cohen’s magnetic artistry and personality gave birth to Bax’s remarkable musical world, and that Mark Bebbington has brought some of their obscurer riches into the light of day. This is truly a disc to treasure.

  • Review by Richard R. Adams – Ireland, Delius, Bax

    With this disc, Lionel Handy completes his survey of Bax’s cello music including the much-maligned Cello Concerto that appeared on an earlier Lyrita disc. Here he performs Bax’s Cello Sonata from 1923 and couples it with the cello sonata of Continue reading →

  • Review by Christopher Webber – Bax: Symphony No.2 (1924-6)

    Self-quotation may be a sign of age, idleness or both; but I can’t avoid referring back to my 2007 review of this performance of Bax’s Symphony No.2, performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Sir Eugene Goossens in 1956 (Dutton Continue reading →

  • Christopher Webber reviews the latest Naxos disc from the Carice Singers

    Given the power of Bax’s symphonies and tone poems, it is easy sometimes to forget the equal mastery of his major piano and chamber works, let alone the best of his countless productions for the human voice. Hearing this excellent Continue reading →

  • Philip Mead’s Private Invitation Concert

    At 2 p.m. on the afternoon of Saturday, 14 January 2017, the distinguished pianist Philip Mead began a marathon all-Bax programme in the Recital Room of Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge—a very rare event that included two world premières. The Continue reading →

  • ‘For the Fallen’

    ‘For the Fallen’,  Elgar: The Spirit of England Op.80*,  A Voice in the Wilderness Op.77$,  Grania and Diarmid Op.42#,  Bax: In Memoriam,  Hallé Choir and Orchestra,  Rachel Nicolls (soprano)*; Joshua Ellicott (narrator), Jennifer France (soprano)$; Madeleine Shaw (mezzo-soprano)#,  Sir Mark Continue reading →

  • Premiere Recording of Bax’s early Orchestral Variations on Dutton

    Bax: Variations for Orchestra and works by George Butterworth and Cyril Scott (all premieres) Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Aleksei Kiseliov (cello) Martin Yates, conductor Dutton Epoch CDLX7326 [61:55] Review by Richard R. Adams Martin Yates continues his resurrection efforts on Continue reading →

  • BBC Symphony Orchestra and Orama perform Bax’s The Garden of Fand in concert

    Wednesday 13 April 2016, 7.30 pm The Barbican Hall BBC Symphony Orchestra Bax: The Garden of Fand Brett Dean: Viola Concerto Elgar: Symphony No. 1 Sakari Oramo conductor – Brett Dean viola Review by Roger Ogle Live concert performances of Continue reading →

  • Cello Concertos by Arnold Bax and Stanley Bate

    Cello Concertos by Arnold Bax and Stanley Bate Lionel Handy, cello Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Martin Yates, conductor Lyrita SRCD.351 Review by Richard R. Adams First a confession: I’ve always found Bax’s Cello Concerto to be a tough nut to Continue reading →

  • Historic Bax from Boyd Neel on Lyrita

    Lyrita issue the 1961 premiere of Bax’s Fauré Variations Benjamin: Ballade for String Orchestra Stevens: Sinfonietta for Strings Panufnik: Lullaby ‘Kolysanka’ for 29 strings and 2 harps Bax: Variations on the name Gabriel Fauré for harp and string orchestra The Continue reading →

  • “After Mozart” CD features works for Flute including Bax’s “Elegiac Trio”

    After Mozart… Music for Flute, Harp and Strings by Mozart, Bax, Debussy, Harty and Faure Sarah Newbold, flute; Katherine Thomas, Harp; David Angel, violin; Martin Outram, viola & Michal Kaznowski, cello. Recorded a St. German’s Church, Cardiff on 21 and Continue reading →

  • British Violin and Cello Concertos by Benjamin, Moeran, Bax and Walton

    Bax Violin Concerto: Andre Gertler, violin; Sir Malcolm Sargent conductor BBC Symphony Orchestra BBC Broadcast 6 February 1957 Lyrita REAM 2114 Mono ADD Review by Richard R. Adams Bax had good reason to be pessimistic toward the end of his Continue reading →

  • Bax’s early Symphony in F – Premiere recording on Dutton

    Arnold Bax: Symphony in F (realized and orchestrated by Martin Yates) Royal Scottish National Orchestra; Martin Yates (c.) Dutton CDLX 7308 [TT=78:28] [rec. RSNO Centre, Henry Wood Hall, Glasgow, 15–16 August 2013. Producer: Michael Ponder. Sound Engineers: Dexter Newman, Dillon Continue reading →

  • Benjamin Martin plays Bax Piano Sonata No. 3 on Melba

    “In the Wake of the Great War” (Works for piano by Delius, Vaughan Williams, Bax, Bridge and Martin) Benjamin Martin, piano Bax recorded live on 10 October 2006. Delius/Vaughan Williams recorded 2006. Bridge/Martin recorded 2009. Melba MR301146 Review by Richard Continue reading →

  • Vernon Handley conducts the complete Bax symphonies

    Arnold BAX (1883-1953) Complete symphonies (1922-39) Overture: Rogue’s Comedy (1936) Tintagel (1919) BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Vernon Handley Recorded in Studio 7, BBC Broadcasting House, Manchester, 4 January 2002 to 5 September 2003 CHANDOS CHAN 10122 (Five CD set)[355’28]   Review by Continue reading →

  • The Irish Piano

    Michael McHale RTELYRICCD139 This is Michael McHale’s first solo album and it’s a charmer. This up-and-coming pianist from Belfast first came to my attention a few years back as a member of the Ensemble Avalon and their release of a Continue reading →

  • BAX: Works for Cello and Piano

    BAX: Works for Cello and Piano Lionel Handy, cello & Nigel Clayton, piano Sleeveless Records SLV 1007 Review by Richard R. Adams This is unquestionably the most exciting new Bax disc to be released in quite some time. For one Continue reading →

  • Bax’s Works for Viola – Viola Sonata and Viola Phantasy

    Bax’s Works for Viola Viola Sonata and Viola Phantasy VIOLA SONATAS Idylls & Bacchanals. Louise Williams, viola & David Owen Norris, piano EM Records 2cds VIOLA SONATAS by Bax, Bliss and Vaughan Williams Christian Euler, viola & Paul Rivinius, piano. Continue reading →

  • Sir Andrew Davis conducts Bax Premieres on Chandos

    THE SIR ARNOLD BAX WEB SITE Arnold Bax: Orchestral Works Four Orchestral Pieces (I. Pensive Twilight, II. Dance in the Sun, III. From the Mountains of Home [In the Hills of Home], IV. The Dance of Wild Irravel); Phantasy for Continue reading →

  • Bax Gould Piano Trio – Review by Graham Parlett and Christopher Webber

    Sir Arnold Bax Website Bax: Sonata in D for clarinet and piano; Sonata in E for clarinet and piano; Romance for clarinet and piano; Trio in B flat; Trio in one movement; Folk-Tale for cello and piano. Robert Plane (clarinet), Continue reading →

  • Vernon Handley’s new recording of Bax tone-poems on Chandos – Review by Graham Parlett

    Bax: In the Faery Hills, November Woods, The Garden of Fand , Sinfonietta. BBC Philharmonic, Vernon Handley. Recorded in Studio 7, New Broadcasting House,Manchester , 20 and 21 April 2005 . Chandos CHAN 10362. Duration: 75:44.   Reviewed by Graham Continue reading →

  • “Summer with Bax” – a Fresh Take on Reality – Review by Christopher Webber

    SUMMER WITH BAX A fresh take on reality DILYS GATER (with Paul Gater) Foreword by Ellen Kent Anecdotes, 2006 (£9.95) ISBN 1-898670-09-9 9 781898 670094 review by CHRISTOPHER WEBBER       The Medium and the Message Bax is a Continue reading →

  • Ashley Wass plays Bax Piano Music Vol.3 – reviews by Graham Parlett and Christopher Webber

    Bax: What the Minstrel told us, A Mountain Mood, The Maiden with the Daffodil,Pæan, A Hill Tune, Mediterranean, The Princess’s Rose Garden, Two Russian Tone-Pictures, Lullaby, Sleepy-Head.   Ashley Wass (piano). Naxos 8.557769.         Review by Graham Continue reading →