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Bax: Symphony 5, The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew [CD]

Sir Arnold Bax Audio CD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
Price: 5.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Bax: Symphony 5, The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew + Bax-Symphony No 4 + Bax: Symphony No.2
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Royal Scottish National Orchestra
  • Conductor: David Lloyd-Jones
  • Composer: Arnold Bax
  • Audio CD (1 Oct 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B00004TARU
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,877 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Song Title Time Price
Listen  1. Symphony No. 5: I. Poco lento - Allegro con fuoco17:16Album Only
Listen  2. Symphony No. 5: II. Poco lento11:18Album Only
Listen  3. Symphony No. 5: III. Poco moderato12:40Album Only
Listen  4. The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew16:33Album Only

Product Description

Yet another British music triumph for Naxos, David Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Bearing a dedication to Sibelius, the fifth symphony of 1932 is one of Bax's most personal, closely reasoned utterances, its bardic splendour, slumbering tragedy and epic thrust all most convincingly conveyed here. Not only is Lloyd-Jones scrupulously faithful to both the letter and spirit of the score, but he also has the happy knack of alighting on precisely the right tempo and never allows Bax's argument to sag in the way that occasionally afflicts Bryden Thomson's rival interpretation with the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Chandos. What's more, he encourages some sensitive and sprightly playing from the RSNO (which certainly seems to enjoy making this mighty work's acquaintance). Completed the year before the symphony, the wintry tone poem The Tale the Pine Trees Knew makes an apt coupling. Lloyd-Jones's performance possesses a clean-limbed vigour that contrasts strikingly with Thomson's more leisurely, wonderfully atmospheric view on Chandos (featuring an irreproachably eloquent Ulster Orchestra).Astonishingly, Naxos has been sitting on these fine recordings for more than four years; let's just hope we don't have to wait as long again for future instalments in Lloyd-Jones's absorbing Bax series.--Andrew Achenbach

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine account of Bax's most concise symphony 10 Sep 2000
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
In the old days (about 10 minutes ago), critics of Bax's symphonies would criticise him for his rhapsodic meanderings. Sonata form was set in concrete in about 1790 and God preserve any composer who deviated from those norms. Bax always followed his basic materials and form followed. In this way he baffled the pedants and got bad reviews. However, in this symphony, he follows more closely the perceived way of political correctness. The thematic material is concise but unmistakeably Baxian. Perhaps it is no wonder it is dedicated to Sibelius. A wonderful symphony, finely played at a bargain price.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
This disc, very well recorded in 1996, is a particular success in both works. The fifth symphony is generally regarded as one of the most concise symphonies by Bax whose longer works, if not handled firmly can tend to ramble. That certainly does not happen here.

Lloyd-Jones delivers a more impassioned, warmer and possibly more emotionally involving interpretation of Bax's symphonies and tone poems than that other great Baxian, Vernon Handley. This is to the advantage of the symphonies in particular but the tone poems also benefit from that approach which can make Handley's versions seem just a touch on the cool side at times. On the other hand, Vernon Handley delivers very clear sighted readings which benefit from intellectual clarity. The relative recordings match the two sets of interpretations.

As with the other discs in the series, the Naxos disc includes a Tone Poem, in this case 'The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew' which was written at much the same time as the symphony (1931) so it makes a natural pairing. Bax described both works as 'craggy northern works' and that description can be applied to these performances. There is no firm story behind this work but it is more concerned with the awareness of 'Norse sagas and the wild traditional legends of the Highland Celts.' When appreciating Bax's muse it is wise to allow for a certain degree of poetic licence!

I would suggest that, like the rest of this series, this disc amounts to something of a musical and financial bargain and, as such, warrants serious consideration from any interested collector.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Volume 5 of the Naxos cycle of Arnold Bax's symphonies and tone-poems is something of a return to form after the slightly disappointing volume 4 (although it was recorded four years before that volume in Glasgow's Henry Wood Hall in 1996), even if it contains one of the composers rather duff works. This is his last tone-poem, "The Tale the Pine-Trees Knew", written in 1931. "... with its arch and cumbersome title,(the "Tale the Pine-Trees Knew") is the weakest of the symphonic poems. Unlike the Fourth Symphony it is a convincing sonata structure, but also unlike the Fourth its material is vague and insipid. It leans heavily on Sibelius's "En Saga"; although the model is said to have been "Tapiola", it is nothing like "Tapiola". It in no wise compares with the wartime trilogy of "The Garden of Fand", "November Woods" and "Tintagel"..", wrote Peter J Pirie in 1979.

The Fifth Symphony dates from 1932 and is, in the context of Bax's orchestral works, a modest masterpiece. "The form of the Fifth Symphony is virtually flawless, taut and dramatic; it is nearer to conventional sonata style than any previous Bax symphony. The first movement is a brooding, threatening, legendary affair which grows out of the opening drum beat and a menacing theme in the Chalumeau region of the clarinets. The slow movement opens with a remarkable and thrilling effect; under an arch of ice, etched by the violins high on their E strings and a glittering harp figure, the trumpets blaze out in ringing fanfares; "The cataract blows its trumpet from the height." The finale starts, ominously and significantly, with what Bax calls a "liturigcal" theme. The conflict of the first three symphonies has been resumed. It quickly gives way to a wild dance, on a subject that emphasises the unity of the symphony.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
Bax' fifth symphony is by no means an easy work to grasp, but immensely rewarding on repeated hearing. In the process of getting to know this work, I found myself fast running out of superlatives. If I needed to single out one word to describe this masterpiece, it would be "compelling". It is a true symphonist who can hold you spellbound with only a handful of themes, and the thematic unity in this symphony is truly remarkable, even by Bax standards. It takes a while to realize that the same themes are recurring in very different guises, and that realization greatly added to my admiration of the masterly way Bax handles his material.
A point in case is the finale, where the initial theme is heard in at least four different moods. Bare and menacing at the start, frantic in the busy development section, yearning and nostalgic after the big climax (a truly most magic and haunting section), and, finally, defiant and triumphal in the blazing coda. So cogent is Bax'
symphonic argument that one feels a good sense of inevitability; this symphony could not have proceeded in any other way, and is all the more satisfying for that. Even if Bax had written nothing else, I still would not hesitate to rank him among the very greatest symphonic composers.
The performance, then. There isn't anything I would want to be done differently, which is surely the greatest compliment one can give. The RSNO have come a long way since their wobbly days under Gibson and Jarvi, and can now hold their own amongs the very best of orchestras. David Lloyd Jones has the full measure of this music; his ongoing Bax cycle for Naxos has been earning constant praise.
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