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Symphony No. 3/the Happy Fores


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Product Details

  • Composer: Bax
  • Audio CD (March 1 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • ASIN: B00003W0Z1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #59,359 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No. 3: Lento moderato - Allegro moderato - Allegro feroce - Lento moderato - Allegro moederato - Piu lento - Allegro
2. Symphony No. 3: Lento
3. Symphony No. 3: Moderato - Epilogue: Poco lento
4. The Happy Forest: Nature Poem For Orchestra

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Audio CD
David Lloyd-Jones gives a commanding and sensitive performance of the 3rd Symphony. It flows easily, sensitive in delicate moments, rising to passion and vehemence in the climaxes. His tempi and treatment are closest to the Barbirolli interpretation on Dutton transferred from 78s - obviously not the definitive recording but definitive performance in my view, as Bax and Barbirolli were great friends. Lloyd-Jones fully captures the magic of the second movement and the lyrically beautiful, if simple, epilogue to the third movement. He also brings off the contrast and tension between moments of respite and violent outbursts, characterising this sympony, with finesse.
This is a superior performance to Bryden Thompson's with his well-known quirky tempi (he managed to make Elgar's 2nd Symphony last 1/4 hour longer than anyone elses - now thankfully deleted). Thompson makes a complete hash of the third movement, his tempi bear no resemblance to Bax's score markings. Further, Thompson's rendering was recorded in a venue with almost a cathedral acoustic - fine for works conforming to early harmonic principles but far too blurry for chromatically romantic composers such as Bax. It almost sounds like Bax played in the Sistine Chapel without its drapes.
So, for sheer value for price, the Lloyd Jones performance is outstanding.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm sorry to disagree, but this is a great symphony, agruably Bax's best, in a mediocre performance and murky recording. Especially disappointing is the all important third movement.
The standard against which all performances must be judged is Bryden Thomsons Chandos version, followed by the recently reissued Dutton Barbirolli from 60 some years ago. The latter is a very different perfomance, marred some by the technical quality of this mono recording, entirely understandable for it's age.
The chief virtue of this Naxos recording is it's price.
Maybe people who haven't heard Bax before will but it, like it and go on the the magical, mystical, crystal clear Thomson recordings of the Bax symphonies.
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Format: Audio CD
Bax's third symphony is not an easy work; it is full of tempo changes and subtle rubati that make the job of the conductor difficult. From the interpretation viewpoint, it is compounded by the total absense of metronome markings in the score.
David Lloyd-Jones does an excellent job. But what persuades me about his version is that it most closely approximates John Barbirolli's interpretation back in the early 1940s. Bax had heard this symphony performed many times in the 1930s (it was famous enough for the British Council to award it a recording grant); he was a friend of Barbirolli and it is fair to say that Barbirolli's version closely met with Bax's approval.
Lloyd-Jones' reading is certainly an improvement over the quirky, idiosyncratic version put out by Bryden Thomson (and recorded in an echoing acoustic that makes a mess of Bax's harmonic rhythm (and even the physical rhythm where it counts in the first and third movements). It is also better than Downes' impersonal, passion-free version back in the 1970s where he succeeds in completely losing any sense of climax. This work is torn between angry outbursts and long periods of respite and reflection, and Lloyd-Jones has the right touch to bring this off. He does not lose the climax of the first movement which everyone else seems to and he maintains the tensions such that those moments of tranquil feel well-earned. The Epilogue (which almost amounts to a 4th movement), like the opening of the second movement, is magical. What's even more magical is the price.
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Format: Audio CD
Two or three of Sir Arnold Bax's (1883-1953) big works suffer from the embarrassment of a too-complicated first movement. The Violin Concerto (1937) is one: Its First Movement consists of an "Overture," so called, interrupted by a "Ballade," so called, interrupted by a Scherzo. The Third Symphony (1929) is another. Here, the First Movement consists of episodes - Lento Moderato... Allegro Moderato... Allegro feroce... etc. - that, unless the transitions come under exceedingly careful control, individually subvert the sense of a unified musical sequence. David Lloyd-Jones' success in the Naxos recording of this symphony arises from his imposition on that wayward opening phase of the Third something like a genuine organic unity. In this he beats out John Barbirolli, Edward Downes, and Bryden Thomson, all of whom over the decades have also set down playback versions of this score. Lloyd-Jones discovers the First Movement's unity in the derivation of all its episodes from the serpentine bassoon melody with which it commences. This twisting minor-key improvisation almost immediately forms a canon with the other woodwinds, and eventually develops into a fully fledged orchestral fugue. Again, Lloyd-Jones understands that the stretto of the fugue is the climax of the movement, the rest being denouement. With the central slow movement of the Third, no problem exists, as in the First Movement. This is a nocturne, as crystalline and timeless as anything that the obsessively otherworldly Bax ever wrote. Our insightful conductor also takes the Finale with a clear view of its inner-structure and its relation to the first two parts of the symphony.Read more ›
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