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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
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #91,858 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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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

Product Description

Here's an irresistible opportunity to acquaint yourself with one of the most loveable of all British symphonies in a finely engineered performance of infectious dedication and impressive power. Bax completed the Third of his seven symphonies in early 1929. It's one of his very best scores, crammed full of bewitchingly beautiful melody (nowhere more so than in the wonderfully serene epilogue with which the work closes) and thrillingly evocative of the rugged coastline and mountains in and around Morar (Bax's Scottish winter retreat). David Lloyd-Jones's bright-eyed interpretation is, on balance, the most satisfyingly lucid since Sir John Barbirolli's wartime premier recording with the Hallè. Moreover, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra rise to the challenge with unstinting fervour and impressive polish. For a fill-up we get a enjoyably robust, at times boisterous reading of the earlier, toothsome tone-poem The Happy Forest, its gorgeous central portion lacking just a fraction in rapt wonderment. Overall, though, yet another British music winner from Naxos, and an absolute must at the price. --Andrew Achenbach

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Conductorial Control Oct. 4 2000
By Thomas F. Bertonneau - Published on
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. The "Epilogue" of the Third is legendary; so poignantly beautiful did it strike the early auditors of this work that one of them, Ralph Vaughan-Williams, quoted it in his own Piano Concerto, although he later rewrote the work so that the allusion to Bax was less direct quotation than passing reference. It is a shame that the usually intractable First Movement of the Third has kept it from a firmer place in the repertory. And yet, of the seven Bax symphonies, the Third has been the most frequently played in the concert hall. Naxos appends Bax's sunny orchestral sketch, "The Happy Forest," inspired by Theocritus and Swinburne, among others, as the honorable makeweight of this recorded program. It's well worth exploration and cheap at the price.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bax would have approved of this! Aug. 11 2001
By A Customer - Published on
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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous tone painting Feb. 15 2000
By F. Behrens - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Probably the most famous example of literary landscape painting is the opening chapter of "The Return of the Native." In music we have countless examples from Beethoven's "Pastoral" Symphony to Smetana's "My Country" and Copland's "Quiet City." But I want to introduce you to one of the most imposing: the first movement of Bax's <Symphony no. 3>, which paints a bleak and very impressive picture of the moors of Scotland. Paired as it is with the tone poem <The Happy Forest>, this Naxos release (8.553608) is highly recommended. Compare the instrumentation of the first movement with the tone poem, the latter being perhaps a little influenced by Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe." One British critic comments that many find Bax cannot sustain musical interest in his longer works as well as in his tone poems. You be the judge here.
In this recording, David-Lloyd-Jones leads the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. There is another version on Chandos at twice the price, but you cannot go wrong with this one.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bax with Quality and Breadth Sept. 30 2012
By J. R. Trtek - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Although I'm formally reviewing Bax's Third Symphony, this should be taken as a quick review of the entire Bax symphonic cycle by Lloyd-Jones and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. And if we're talking the full gamut of symphonies by Sir Arnold, the choice would seem to fall among this Naxos set, that by Vernon Handley and the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos, and the collection that more or less fueled the revival of interest in Bax's music: Bryden Thomson's cycle with the London Philharmonic and the Ulster Orchestra. The latter has several adherents, and actually I could be happy with any of the three -- Thomson's Symphony No. 4, paired with the tone poem Tintagel, is a marvelous disc. However, Lloyd-Jones' set has really struck a nerve with me in way that Thomson's never did, and which Handley's approaches but doesn't quite match. Another slight shortcoming of the Handley is that while it does come with Tintagel and the Rogue's Comedy Overture, there are only the symphonies, while Lloyd-Jones offers a healthy selection of Bax's tone poems as filler on each disc. Of course, I can only speak to my own experience; your mileage may vary. Any of the three mentioned cycles are excellent, but for me this disc and its siblings pack just a shade more power.
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent 3rd for Bax lovers Dec 29 2014
By Long-Time Listener - Published on
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I haven't been equally happy with all of David Lloyd-Jones' Bax series, but this 3rd symphony is a winner. My complaints have often centered around the somewhat thin tonal quality of the orchestra coupled with somewhat loose ensemble. And while the orchestra on this disc may not be as tonally sumptuous as Handley's or Bryden Thomson's, everything works well here under the insightful direction of the conductor, while the open-sounding acoustic and recording add to the atmosphere of this 3rd. The first two movements are more expansive and relaxed than Handley's, which works very well, while the opening of the final movement is on the other hand slightly brisker--which also works. Not better than Handley's, but different, and in the first two movements anyway, Lloyd-Jones offers an interesting and affecting contrast. It's been a little too long since I've listened to Thomson's and can't comment on it now, but may add some observations on it later.