Symphony No. 3/the Happy Fores
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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|
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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I'm sorry to disagree, but this is a great symphony, agruably Bax's best, in a mediocre performance and murky recording. Read morePublished on Jan. 29 2002 by rash67
The first movement of the 3rd symphony justifies the investment on the CD
The music is so distant, and at the same time so close, that drives you into the description. Read more
Sir Arnold Bax's symphonies have been a tough nut to crack for some. The lush late romantic melodies and fine ear for orchestration are ever present but they must be handled... Read morePublished on May 12 2000 by NNNNN