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G2: Film and Music: Review: Music: Classical: Bax: Phantasy; Four Orchestral Pieces; Overture, Elegy and Rondo Dukes/BBC Philharmonic/Davis CHANDOS 4/5

August 29, 2014

Andrew Clements

All three of these rarely heard works come from the first half of Bax's career as a composer. The earliest is the lightweight but charming set of Four Orchestral Pieces from 1914, recorded here for the first time, and also known as the Four Orchestral Sketches or the Four Irish Pieces. The latest is the far more substantial Overture, Elegy and Rondo, which was completed in 1927. Though stylistically the two works have their differences - the wispy French influences on the four pieces, especially Ravel, were replaced by a more muscular, clearer-cut style by

the mid-1920s - both works reveal the same sure-footed handling of the orchestra, which these carefully manicured performances under conductor Andrew Davis show off beautifully. Between them comes the Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra of 1920, composed for the virtuoso Lionel Tertis, and Bax's reaction to the political turmoil in Ireland at the

time, moving from lament to triumph and quoting the Sinn Fein marching song at its climax. Not a major work, but a very interesting one.

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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