In the Naxos Arnold Bax series, these performances stand out. Martin Outram is violist
in the Maggini Quartet (out to record every string quartet written in the UK, it seems) and an
obviously outstanding performer on his own. Julian Rolton, stays right with him the whole way with the highly-demanding, virtuoso piano parts.
The whole way in Bax is quite a ride. This is certainly some of the viola's most interesting and beautiful repertoire. The Sonata (surprisingly few modern recordings available) is one of Bax's very finest works, even if you aren't in tune with his idiom. Do not hesitate to seek out the 1937 William Primrose/Harriet Cohen performance, available in several reissues, if you want to explore the "classic" version of the Sonata. There is also a very early version with
Lionel Tertis and Arnold Bax (himself a virtuoso pianist). These three versions make a very interesting study of viola technique and style over many decades.
All of this music, including the Violin/Viola/Piano Trio in one movement, gets colorful,sensitive
and powerful playing, all of which are essential to Bax. If you don't know Bax, this isn't a bad
way to start...but watch out, he has been known to become something of an addiction! Fortunately
Naxos has issued much of his music in performances which are every bit as fine as the higher-priced competition.
Thank you Naxos for offering us such a feast of Bax for an affordable price!