Symphony No. 3/the Happy Fores
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|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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.