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)
Staples of the violin repertoire, the three violin sonatas of Johannes Brahms, project three entirely different characters: the G major Sonata's solemn, lonely beauty; the exuberance and freedom of the A major Sonata; and the aggressive, agitated D minor Sonata. As much as the sonatas contrast with one another, so to does Anne-Sophie Mutter's playing of them. Her vision throughout this Deutsche Grammophon collaboration with pianist Lambert Orkis seems to be built on creating broad distinctions in dynamic range, tempo, and tone color.
Ernest Bloch's major works for violin and piano may compel respect, but they might not inspire love or give much pleasure. The violent, unstable Violin Sonata No. 1 (1920) is a bracing expression of the turbulence of World War I, and Bloch pushes the music's tension to incredible lengths over the work's 30 minutes. One may appreciate the sincerity of Bloch's expression and the effort he put in this wrenching work, but still not find it enjoyable or moving for its severity and frequent ugliness.