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Symphony No. 4

Bax Audio CD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 10.08 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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1. Overture To A Picaresque Comedy
2. Nympholept
3. Allegro Moderato
4. Lento Moderato
5. Allegro

Product Description

Amazon.ca

Naxos's hugely welcome Bax symphony cycle continues. Number 4 is his "sea symphony", touched with the sights and sounds of Morar on the west coast of Scotland where the work was completed in 1931. It may not be the most immediately appealing of the Bax symphonies, but that's hardly down to any lack of surging passion (for example, at the close of the first movement and the opening of the last) especially given the forward momentum David Lloyd-Jones imparts to his reading, knitting together the wealth of ideas and episodes. The slow movement, nostalgic, wistful and stormy, is quintessential Bax. Throughout, the playing is urgent, committed and downright impressive, while the recording possesses both clarity and richness.

There's more nature music in the evocative 1912 Nympholept, which describes an ensnaring by nymphs in a haunted wood. The sense of mystery and pagan magic make it a counterpart to Bax's beguiling Spring Fire, which also should be better-known. In contrast, the Overture to a Picaresque Comedy is by turns playful, touching and riotous, in the style of Strauss's Til Eulenspiegel. It's as roguish as the title suggests and great fun. Both works are far more than makeweights, especially in the RSNO's hands.--Andrew Green

Product Description

CD Composer: Bax,Arnold

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Fourth Oct. 30 2002
Format:Audio CD
So far, this is my favorite Bax release on Naxos. I only discovered Bax two years ago, so each recording I run across is a revelation. But this disc is truly exceptional. I guess I can understand why these works aren't popular in the way Elgar or Vaughan-Williams are, but on the other hand, everything is here: melody, drama, masterful orchestration, narrative brillance, and length that is completely justified by the material. This is a bargain disc in every meaning of the word--I can't imagine a release with a more enjoyable program.
It starts out with the "Overture to a Picaresque Comedy," which is sheer genius--an overflowing of Straussian spirits which is more than pastiche. The orchestration is brilliant, and the tunes are unforgettable. Next is the dreamy, otherworldly "Nympholept," which displays Bax's genius in musical narration (even when you don't know the story). But the highlight is his very original (in my mind) Fourth Symphony, with an opening that is unmatched in his symphonic oeuvre. The symphony conjures up images and impressions of the sea, but is quite unlike La Mer; instead, it flits between drama and legend, romance and introspection. The symphony grows with each listen, and so far, I consider it among his strongest and most inpsired symphonies.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra plays with fire and gusto, led by the extremely capable David Lloyd-Jones. I will probably never see a live performance of Bax's Fourth in Ohio, but this disc more than makes up for it. Yet another success in Naxos's brilliant British music series!
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4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent contemporary performance April 17 2004
Format:Audio CD
David Lloyd-Jones is carrying off his Bax Symphony cycle with panache. This is a committed, thoroughly competent performance of both 4th Symphony and Nympholet. Compared with a BBC Radio 3 performance of Nympholet years ago it is lighter, airier and more in character with the work's programme.
It compares well with Bryden Thompson's 4th, one of Thompson's best renderings of a Bax Symphony, very worthy of consideration, though the recording acoustic is a little blurry.
However, at Naxos prices, one can hardly go wrong with the Lloyd-Jones.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Fourth Oct. 30 2002
By Joshua Grasso - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
So far, this is my favorite Bax release on Naxos. I only discovered Bax two years ago, so each recording I run across is a revelation. But this disc is truly exceptional. I guess I can understand why these works aren't popular in the way Elgar or Vaughan-Williams are, but on the other hand, everything is here: melody, drama, masterful orchestration, narrative brillance, and length that is completely justified by the material. This is a bargain disc in every meaning of the word--I can't imagine a release with a more enjoyable program.
It starts out with the "Overture to a Picaresque Comedy," which is sheer genius--an overflowing of Straussian spirits which is more than pastiche. The orchestration is brilliant, and the tunes are unforgettable. Next is the dreamy, otherworldly "Nympholept," which displays Bax's genius in musical narration (even when you don't know the story). But the highlight is his very original (in my mind) Fourth Symphony, with an opening that is unmatched in his symphonic oeuvre. The symphony conjures up images and impressions of the sea, but is quite unlike La Mer; instead, it flits between drama and legend, romance and introspection. The symphony grows with each listen, and so far, I consider it among his strongest and most inpsired symphonies.
The Royal Scottish National Orchestra plays with fire and gusto, led by the extremely capable David Lloyd-Jones. I will probably never see a live performance of Bax's Fourth in Ohio, but this disc more than makes up for it. Yet another success in Naxos's brilliant British music series!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent contemporary performance April 17 2004
By Wildfire - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
David Lloyd-Jones is carrying off his Bax Symphony cycle with panache. This is a committed, thoroughly competent performance of both 4th Symphony and Nympholet. Compared with a BBC Radio 3 performance of Nympholet years ago it is lighter, airier and more in character with the work's programme.
It compares well with Bryden Thompson's 4th, one of Thompson's best renderings of a Bax Symphony, very worthy of consideration, though the recording acoustic is a little blurry.
However, at Naxos prices, one can hardly go wrong with the Lloyd-Jones.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine recording, but outshone by the competition Jan. 14 2010
By G.D. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Naxos's cycle of the symphonies of Arnold Bax with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra under David Lloyd-Jones is one of the greatest achievements of their impressive catalogue, with performances that can easily match and often surpass the eminently impressive Bryden Thomson ones (I have to admit that I haven't yet heard the celebrated Handley cycle). That said, I am unsure whether this recording of the fourth is among the best of the series - it is, firstly, not Bax's strongest symphony (though it is still a mightily impressive work of vivid colors, lush textures and fantastic atmospheres), and secondly it was featured on what was, perhaps, the strongest installment in the Thomson series - in this case I have to say that Lloyd-Jones doesn't quite manage to match the older Chandos recording.

But it is still a very good performance, exhibiting many of the same qualities - one drawback, however, is the choice of tempi; Lloyd-Jones is generally faster than Thomson, and while newcomers might not notice, comparisons reveal that Thomson's account is just a little more atmospheric and natural-sounding, in particular in the first movement, and thereby achieves a clarity and sinewy power that, at least to a certain extent, eludes Lloyd-Jones. That said, there are many magnificent touches to this version, and Lloyd-Jones manages to bind the slightly episodic work together convincingly (the finale is marvelous).

Nympholept is an alluring, vibrant and colorful tone poem, and if it is not among Bax's very best it is still a splendid work, and it receives convincing advocacy here. The Overture to a Picaresque Comedy is a brilliant work, however, delightfully swaggering and sporting an absolutely fabulous, gorgeous middle theme. On the other hand, Lloyd-Jones and his Scottish players are just a little bit rushed here, losing some of the color nuances and textural details. The sound quality is good, but not as clear and vivid as on some of the earlier installments in the series. Still, this is a very fine release, strongly recommended on its own terms and an absolute must for followers of this series.
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing the rival set to the Handley versions March 26 2013
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
This disc, well recorded in 2000, continues the fine alternative set of Bax symphonies and other works conducted by LLoyd-Jones with the excellent support of his Scottish orchestra. As with all the other discs in the series, this symphony comes with extra works, in this case an overture and a tone poem. Also, each disc is available separately. In the case of the Handley option, the symphonies must be bought as a complete box set without significant extras. The other works are separately available on two single discs.

The fourth symphony is generally considered to be the weakest of the seven as a result of its more fragmentary construction. Even that stalwart champion of Bax's music, Vernon Handley, admits that it is the weakest symphony but adds the rider that it is also the 'happiest.' The orchestra used is very enlarged with triple woodwind, 6 horns and organ added to the normal requirements of a large orchestra. All of this is intended to portray the movement of the sea in a Scottish environment. Debussy's portrayal of the sea in La Mer is far more compact and consequently more effective. Bax's symphony is more sprawling and needs to be tightly controlled if it is to achieve a coherent musical conclusion. Both Lloyd-Jones and Handley succeed in this regard. The main difference between the two is lies in the orchestral sonorities. This is apparent right from the start with Handley favouring the deeper brass for example and Lloyd-Jones favouring the higher brass. This is indicative of his slightly darker concept compared to the more open-aired Lloyd-Jones.

The overture is a light-weight piece and enjoyable enough as such and the Nympholept is an imaginative extravaganza indulging Bax's passion for woodland scenes and nymphs. 'Enter these enchanted woods you who dare' is a quote that sums up the piece quite well. This is written, once more, for a very large orchestra which is deployed very well, the shorter duration suiting the subject better than the longer symphony's subject matter.

In summary therefore I would suggest that those who are collecting the Lloyd-Jones series may continue with confidence. Those looking for an alternative to add to their Handley collection may do likewise. Newcomers have a straight choice between Handley and Lloyd-Jones and both are fine. Couplings, price and marketing (singles v box)are all issues for individual purchasers to choose as most convenient for them. Either set will be rewarding musically.
5.0 out of 5 stars BAX is AWESOME Feb. 23 2013
By ZAC on the coast - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Anything by Arnold Bax is a treat to hear. I have everything that I know of that he wrote & there isn't a weak link in any of his superb music. If your not familiar with Sir Arnold Bax music then by all means begin. I've never heard of anyone not enjoying his repetoire ever!!!!!!!!
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