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BAX: Piano Works, Vol. 4 - Music for 2 Pianos

Composer(s):Bax, Arnold
Artist(s) Wass, Ashley, piano • Roscoe, Martin, piano
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category Instrumental
Catalogue 8.570413
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
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Although best known for his symphonic poems and symphonies, Bax also wrote prolifically for the piano, his instrument from the first. The two-piano music heard on this recording was written mostly in the late 1920s for the husband and wife piano duet team of Ethel Bartlett and Rae Robertson. It encompasses captivating miniatures such as The Poisoned Fountain, whose repeated piano figuration is evocative of flowing water, the impressionistic Moy Mell (An Irish Tone-Poem) and Hardanger, which emulates the style of Grieg’s folk-style piano music. The large-scale Sonata for Two Pianos includes a slow movement which is formally similar to some of the orchestral tone poems, and evokes an ancient Celtic world in a striking parallel with Bax’s


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Review By Andrew King,MUSO,June 2009

This is the fourth offering of piano music by Arnold Bax on the Naxos label. Pianist Ashley Wass, who has recorded the three previous discs, teams up with the internationally acclaimed Martin Roscoe to present us with a disc of Bax’s works for two pianos.

It must be said that until hearing this disc I was unfamiliar with Bax’s chamber music and while dreading some densely-written Brahms-style textures we are instead presented with some outstandingly melodic and exciting music that, if Wass and Roscoe’s performance is anything to go by, is as much a joy to play as it is to listen to.


Review By Penguin Guide,January 2009

The earliest works here are the 1909 Festival Overture, which has not been recorded before (the orchestral transcription is a revision from 1918), and Moy Mell, a wartime piece from 1916 written for Myra Hess and Irene Scharrer, which is highly Celtic. The remaining pieces were composed for the Ethel Bartlett-Rae Robertson partnership which flourished in the inter-war years and on into the 1940s. The Devil That Tempted St Anthony was originally for one piano, as indeed was Red Autumn, and both are full of resource and originality. The Sonata comes from the same period as the Third and Fourth Symphonies and is full of their resonances. Ashley Wass and Martin Roscoe are fully inside the idiom and play with great sympathy and authority. Excellent


Review By ,Fono Forum,February 2008

Arnold Bax selbst erfahrener Pianist improvisierte viel und spielte Orchesterpartituren auf dem Klavier durch. Auch den Klavierwerken merkt man dies anhand ihrer Harmonik und farbigen Textur an. So ähnelt der langsame Satz der Sonate für zwei Klaviere einigen seiner Tondichtungen für Orchester. Wie bei „Moy Mell“ wird eine anfangs impressionistisch begleitete verträumte Stimmung keltischer Melodielinien zu orchestraler Klanggewalt gesteigert. „Hardanger“ ahmt Griegs folkloristischen Stil und spürt der Wildheit der gleichnamigen norwegischen Hochebene nach. Was Ashley Wass und Martin Roscoe an Naturbeschwörendem erklingen lassen, ist technisch wie gestalterisch bezwingend und vervollständigt die Reihe ihrer


Review By David Denton, Naxos,September 2007

Arnold Bax often felt that too much was expected of him as the  heir to the English musical renaissance, at times resorting to the style that had made Elgar and Holst famous, though his musical soul was inherently different. In the 1920’s he took the decision to shift away from their influences, and find a more personal voice. That brought into play a sharp-edged atmosphere akin to Nordic and Finnish influences together with the bleak seascapes of his spiritual Irish home. It was in this period of intense creativity that much of his music for two pianos was completed, though in mood they stand apart from his other works from this time. The disc opens with the draft of an orchestral piece prior to orchestration, and harks back to the atmospheric more....


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