Sir Arnold Bax was one of those early twentieth-century British composers who have unjustly fallen through the musicological cracks between Ralph Vaughan Williams and William Walton. His moody, visual musical style is neo-Romantic with Impressionistic strains. An ongoing love affair with Ireland accounts for the Celtic flavor in many of Bax's orchestral pieces. There is a sensual sophistication and subtlety in his use of chromaticism. Bax, an accomplished pianist who disliked performing in public, dedicated Whirligig to Irene Scharrer, one of his schoolmates at the Royal Academy of Music in London. A short encore piece, it portrays the continuous movement of a child's spinning toy. The playfully cheerful tune over a swirling accompaniment is interrupted by a calmly contrasting interlude that serves as a brief respite before the return of the opening material. Whirligig is representative of a lighter, less frequently seen side of the composer.
Description by Mona DeQuis