Ashley Wass

Bax: Piano Sonatas Nos. 1 & 2; Dream in Exile; Nereid

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If you love the symphonies and symphonic poem of self-proclaimed "brazen Romantic" Arnold Bax, then you will have to hear this disc of his piano music. All that is in Bax's symphonies and symphonic poems is in his two Piano Sonatas -- the passionate themes, the gargantuan sonorities, the colossal structures, the overwrought development sections, the ever so slightly histrionic emotions, the just this side of hysteria climaxes. Played with tremendous power and terrific technique by pianist Ashley Wass, Bax's Piano Sonatas sound as impressive as they are ever likely to sound in this world. Wass performs the remaining, lesser works on the disc with equal equanimity and dexterity and as compelling as a work called In a Vodka Shop can sound, it sounds in Wass' performance. Naxos' sound is big and clear, but a bit hard.

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