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BAX, A.: Symphonic Variations / Concertante for Piano Left Hand (Wass, Bournemouth Symphony, Judd)

Composer(s):Bax, Arnold
Artist(s) Judd, James, Conductor • Bournemouth Symphony OrchestraWass, Ashley, piano
Period(s) 20th Century
Genre Classical Music
Category ConcertosOrchestral
Catalogue 8.570774
Label Naxos
Quality   320kbps
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Bax completed five works for piano and orchestra, beginning in 1916 with the highly virtuosic Symphonic Variations dedicated to the pianist Harriet Cohen. The work was likened by Rosa Newmarch, who wrote the programme note for the first performance, ‘to some great epic poem dealing with the adventures of a hero…passing through a number of different experiences.’ The Concertante for Piano (Left Hand) and Orchestra (1949) is on a smaller scale. The romantic slow movement opens with a beautiful and haunting piano tune which gives way to a brooding atmospheric middle section, coloured by typical Baxian orchestral textures, like swirling mists in a nocturnal vision of some Irish coastal vista.


Review By Lawson Taitte,The Dallas Morning News,May 2009

Arnold Bax’s music might remind you of Rachmaninoff’s—only with Celtic touches in place of Russian. More than 50 years after his death, the British master’s work is gradually returning to favor. The two works for piano and orchestra here show why.


Review By David Denton, Naxos,March 2009

Maybe the title does little to enhance its popularity among keyboard virtuosos, though in truth Arnold Bax’s Symphonic Variations is a brilliantpiano concerto. Bax passed through several phases in a highly productive career, the Symphonic Variations coming from the period when he embraced a late-Romantic style fulsome in the bravura passages Rachmaninov was making popular. He dedicated it to the celebrated pianist of the day, Harriet Cohen, who was known to be his mistress, and she retained exclusive rights to the score, though it had proved beyond her physical attributes, and only after Bax’s death was the complete work heard without the changes he made to accommodate her shortcomings. It presents considerable technical demands, yet only



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