Laurence Jackson

Bax: Violin Sonatas Nos. 1 & 3

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If you love the super-saturated romantic music of twentieth century English composer Arnold Bax and you already have all his orchestral works, you might consider checking out this disc of two of his three violin sonatas. In these wholly persuasive performances by violinist Laurence Jackson and pianist Ashley Wass, Bax's violin work is just as brazenly, passionately, unrepentantly romantic as his orchestral works but also more intimate and more personal. The Third Sonata is the record of Bax's abiding affection for the people and folk songs of old Ireland while the First is the musical confession of one of his many torrid love affairs and the inclusion here of the world-premiere recordings of the work's original second and third movements completes Bax's confession. Jackson's playing is incredibly suave -- listen to his legato in the finale of the Third Sonata -- and Wass' playing is unbelievably smooth -- listen to his control in the climax of the central Allegro vivace in the First Sonata -- and together they are thoroughly seductive. While Bax's music may be anathema for those who prefer their romanticism more emotionally reserved à la Brahms, for those who prefer their romanticism more extravagantly expressive à la Tchaikovsky, it may be ideal. Naxos' sound is clean and deep, but just a bit distant.

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