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Bax - Symphonies Nos 1 and 7 CD

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Conductor: Myer Fredman, Raymond Leppard
  • Composer: Arnold Bax
  • Audio CD (17 July 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Lyrita
  • ASIN: B000027QWX
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 88,852 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

London Philharmonic Orchestra - Myer Freedman & Raymond Leppard, direction

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have owned the original Lyrita LPs for more than thirty years and have always preferred them to later recordings. I purchased Bryden Thomson's complete set of the Bax symphonies on Chandos but was disappointed with them, both as performances and recordings: a tendency by Thomson to linger on detail instead of keeping the music moving, and therefore giving support to those who say that these marvellous works are rhapsodic and lack form, and recorded sound which was far too reverberant, even noisy and therefore tiring on the ear. I have also been a little disappointed on the whole with the late Vernon Handley's much praised set, which seems to me to keep things moving a little too much sometimes!For me, and many others, these Lyrita recordings remain as benchmarks by which all others must be judged. And on CD these excellent recordings sound better than ever. I would say the same about the other Bax symphonies from Lyrita.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I bought both these recordings when they appeared on vinyl, and it is a joy to have them again in this re-mastered form on CD. The First Symphony is very good indeed, but the recording of the Seventh has yet to be bettered. The Seventh is the most elusive of all Bax's symphonies, with its quickly changing moods and tempi, and it sets a real challenge to a conductor to hold it together and make its structure clear. In this vintage performance Raymond Leppard succeeds at every point, and his choice of tempi is faultless. The Epilogue which ends the symphony is some of the most haunting music written in modern times, and Leppard makes you hold your breath at its sheer beauty. There have been good performances of the work recorded more recently, notably that of David Lloyd Jones on Naxos, but Leppard's version is the one to go for - and the sound is as fresh as if it was recorded yesterday.
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Format: Audio CD
The music of the English composer, Sir Arnold Bax (1883-1953) fell into a severe decline after his death. Nearly 40 years ago, the Lyrita record company began recording many of his works, including the symphonies (except No.4)and today most of Bax's music can be found on CD. Between 1921 and 1939, he wrote seven symphonies containing music of great range - sometimes brutal, sometimes sublimely lyrical. They show Bax to be a master of the orchestra, creating original textures to build a brooding atmosphere or sparkling sea-scape.

The first symphony on this CD is No.1. It originated as a piano sonata which Bax found cried out for orchestral dress. Like the first three symphonies, it is a dark work, redolent of dim northern climes. A threatening, rhythmic 5-note figure is hammered out and this features prominently later. The mood of desolation permeates the whole movement. The second begins mysteriously, with thrumming harps and low brass, showing the composer's skills and imagination in tone painting. The gloom is gradually dispersed and the music evolves into a shattering climax. A beautiful 'liturgical' theme arises, often on muted strings and the thrumming harps reappear to close the movement. The last movement (Bax preferred the 3-movement format) commences with a jolly, scherzo-like episode. Thematic material from the opening of the symphony creeps in in lyrical dress, totally devoid of threat and it is this which, in grand fashion, finishes the symphony.

The 7th, and last, symphony (here conducted by Raymond Leppard) begins like a walk on a windy day. The music is invigorating and highly rhythmic and a characteristic recurring melodic cell is heard.
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Format: Audio CD
The First Symphony leads off with a rather portentous main theme which nevertheless ends up working very well and is the unifying element for the whole piece . All in all the symphony is very effective and is probably the most conventional sounding work in the cycle . The performance is excellent . The Seventh is a more difficult nut to crack and all three movements maintain a rather listless quality with elements of romanticism weaving in and out . The music is strangely diffuse and it requires repeated listening to get any kind of overall impression . The Naxos version with Lloyd-Jones makes much more of the lyrical music and beats Handley and even Thomson in this respect . Leopard takes a slightly "pomp and circumstance" approach to the symphony and it starts to sound a bit like film music . At the end of the day this was probably a step in the right direction . The playing is incisive and the sound is good .
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x93665c90) out of 5 stars 1 review
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x93667e4c) out of 5 stars enduring Bax recordings from the Lyrita catalog 21 Jun. 2007
By jsa - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My initial exposure to these great Bax symphonies was through the Musical Heritage Society, which licensed many recordings from Lyrita in the 1970's. At the time, MHS was practically the sole source for much of the music from Britain's great 20th century composers, including Alwyn, Bax, Moeran, Finzi, Rubbra, Holst, and Ireland among others. Although the Lyrita recordings were often the only ones available of various compositions, many were (and still are) definitive. Many were conducted by Adrian Boult, who was a great champion of British music (his Vaughan Williams is still the best, to my ears) as well as by Norman Del Mar, Raymond Leppard and a young Vernon Handley.

Among the many outstanding releases licensed by MHS from Lyrita were these great London Philharmonic Bax recordings: Symphony No. 1, conducted by Myer Fredman and the Seventh Symphony conducted by Raymond Leppard. These works have been recorded more recently by David Lloyd Jones (Naxos) and Vernon Handley (Chandos), but I still think these later efforts, fine as they may be, are eclipsed by Fredman and Leppard. There is a grandeur that each conductor brings to the score, which is so necessary to get Bax right, that gives them an edge over the competition. The sound, from 1971 and 1975 respectively, is not a concern (for that matter, I think it's at least equal if not superior to Handley's 2003 cycle, which was recorded at a low level).

Very highly recommended!
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