Philip Dukes / Andrew Davis / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Arnold Bax: Phantasy; Four Orchestral Pieces; Overture, Elegy & Rondo

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Arnold Bax: Phantasy; Four Orchestral Pieces; Overture, Elegy & Rondo Review

by James Manheim

Arnold Bax remains more popular within the British Isles than beyond them, and these three works qualify as Bax rarities. They don't achieve the confluence of mythic Romanticisim and personal emotion that marks his best works, and it would seem that those already enthusiastic about this unclassifiable composer--not quite Impressionist, not quite Romantic conservative or proto-cinematic, not quite Pastoral--will be the primary audience. This said, all three of these pieces are nicely executed, with conductor Andrew Davis and the BBC Philharmonic alert to Bax's many superb touches of orchestration. The Four Orchestral Pieces, an early work that has never been recorded before. They're among the Europhilic Bax's most Irish pieces, depicting Irish landscapes and scenes (the word "Irravel" in the finale was made up by the composer), and they're colorful and lively works. The Phantasy for viola and orchestra, composed in 1920 for violist Lionel Tertis, is a worthwhile addition to the sparse solo viola literature, and the Overture, Elegy, and Rondo (1927) is an orchestral tour de force, brilliantly rendered here. For Bax fans or lovers of British orchestral music, there is nothing to complain about here, and the album may be worth the price of admission for the notes by Lewis Foreman, both erudite and accessible.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Four Orchestral Pieces
1 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 06:49 Amazon
2 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 06:48 Amazon
3 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 08:15 Amazon
4 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 05:11 Amazon
Phantasy for Viola & Orchestra
5 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 08:38 Amazon
6 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 06:21 Amazon
7 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 07:02 Amazon
Overture, Elegy and Rondo
8 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 07:49 Amazon
9 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 09:23 Amazon
10 Andrew Davis / Philip Dukes / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra 07:00 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick