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Symphony No. 4

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Composer: Bax
  • Audio CD (May 21 2002)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ncl
  • Run Time: 65.00 minutes
  • ASIN: B000063TS3
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #225,895 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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1. Overture To A Picaresque Comedy
2. Nympholept
3. Allegro Moderato
4. Lento Moderato
5. Allegro

Product Description

Product Description

CD Composer: Bax,Arnold

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

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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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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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f755c90) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f5936f0) 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
HASH(0x9f593744) 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.
HASH(0x9f593b7c) out of 5 stars #6 is his accalimed masterpiece but it is not easy to listen to April 8 2016
By need coffee now! - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Arnold Bax wrote seven symphonies and quite a few tone poems. The bulk of his symphonies are very 20th Century in style; there is might and power and emotion but a somehwat dissatisfied feeling of a lack of memorability. The symphonies get a lot of praise but they are tough, and they are granitic and craggy. Interesting that the first three are rather tough, although the ending of #3 is very peaceful. The last three symphonies are also very tough but better composed, especially #s 5 and 6. It is almost taking Sibelius to an extreme. #6 is his accalimed masterpiece but it is not easy to listen to; just like Sibelius 4, Ravel's la Valse or Stravinsky'sThe Rite Of Spring. And in the middle of Ba'x's seven symphonies is #4, the brightest and most positive symphony that Bax composed.

When listening to these symphonies in sequence, it is almost a big relief when #4 arrives as the gloomy landscapes of the first three become too heavy and almost claustraphobic.

Symphony #4 is the most memorable and most appealing. Everything about it evokes the sea but in a wild and very wayward sense. Critics claim that it is too loose and has great ideas that never gel and that Bax did not excel in wiritng uplifting music. But who listens to critics anyway? This is the most joyous and most positive symphony from Bax. It takes a few listens but at the end it leaves a big smile on your face; rare for a 20th symphony as all others seem to search for something esoteric and tuneless and especially as the symphonies he wrote after this (5 & 6) are very unnerving. The sound of the sea is very evident in the first movement and the shimmering beauty of the slow second is 14 minutes of gazing at the beauty of the an ocean shore in the night. But it is the last movement with its very memorable Gerschwin-like tune that will stay with you. So strong, so uplifting and so memorable.

I do like all the other symphonies (OK, #2 is still very difficult and #7 seems too detached) but this symphony is the best palce to start if you want to explore the music of Bax. Just be aware that the other symphonies are much darker.

I would give five stars also to the recordings of Vernon Hadley and Brydon Thompson but this recording is at a price that's hard to beat. Give it a few listens; then with each hearing, something new will grab your attention.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f593f3c) 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.
HASH(0x9f5a103c) 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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