Bax's second violin sonata is one of the most nuanced, subtly inflected duos ever written, requiring everything from gutsy, sweeping gestures to ethereal harmonics, all couched in a richly chromatic idiom that pushed tonality in new directions. Those who know Bax's "November Woods" will recognize the close kinship of this sonata with the seminal orchestral work. Jackson has the measure of this music and plays it all with a stunning tonal palette, ably matched by Wass. Reproduced on a good system and with proper volume levels, there is nothing reticent in this bold performance.
By the time Bax began composing his Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in 1937, he had written six symphonies and numerous works for combinations of solo instruments and orchestra, only two of which, the Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra and the Cello Concerto, are actual concertos. (The pieces for piano and orchestra are more akin to Bax's tone poems than to genuine concertos.) Bax began the concerto in June 1937, finishing the short score in October. The piece was completed …….John Palmer @ Allmusic
Russian-born Lydia Mordkovitch has become one of the leading British violinists from the latter half of the twentieth century. A David Oistrakh protégée who has lived in England since 1980, she is quite eclectic in her repertory, playing a varied selection of works by composers…
This disc is conducted by Gramophone award-winner Vernon Handley, famous for his Bax interpretations and includes the rarely recorded Sinfonietta. "'These four orchestral pieces by Arnold Bax make for dangerous listening: you’ll be battered by storms and swept out to sea. Given Bax’s chromatic language and avoidance of clear-cut design you risk losing consciousness too: this isn’t a disc for continuous listening. Still Handley loves such opulent music; the BBC Philharmonic radiate in Chandos’ rich sound; and two pieces, November Woods and The Garden of Fand, are among Bax’s most seductive." (The Times)
The violin and piano sonatas of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel draw on foreign idioms: gypsy music in Debussy's case and African-American blues in Ravel's. But they remain completely French works, spiced with something exotic, and British violinist Jennifer Pike forges interpretations that keep this in mind. Start with the "Blues" slow movement of the Ravel Violin Sonata in G major: Pike and her accompanist, Martin Roscoe, avoid exaggerating the bluesy qualities of the music and instead emphasize the odd, almost tense disconnection between violin and piano that, combined with the languid blues melodies, gives this piece its special piquancy.
Dumay and Pires have made some outstanding recordings.. and this new set of Beethoven's complete works in the same genre.. belongs among the very best available.
Make no mistake, this is chamber music playing of the first order, and a major contribution to the Beethoven discography–a set to be savored and enjoyed many times over
Jennifer Pike, who won the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition at the tender age of 12, appears to have survived the perils of prodigyhood and entered her early twenties with musical intelligence intact. Here she offers a terrific program of music from the middle of the 19th century; all of it is abstract, but it brings vividly to mind the crucial trio of creative figures who met in the early 1850s: the ailing Robert Schumann, his musically frustrated wife Clara, and the young Johannes Brahms, mooning over the latter.
Andrew Manze has been called "the Grappelli of the Baroque violin" because of the improvisatory liveliness of his approach; however, he can just as easily change personalities. Sometimes he pads along with sinewy grace like a panther ready to spring (the Preludio to BWV 1023, for example), sometimes he goes for a much more relaxed cantabile line, and sometimes he plays with a sparkling and infectious sense of fun (Presto, BWV 1021).