Bax: Octet; String Quintet; Threnody and Scherzo; In memoriam; Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet

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COMPOSERS: Bax
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Octet; String Quintet; Threnody and Scherzo; In memoriam; Concerto for Flute, Oboe, Harp and String Quartet
PERFORMER: Margaret Fingerhut (piano) Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chamber Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 9602
Commentators have claimed that the best of Bax lies in his chamber works, particularly for sextet or larger ensembles. These premiere recordings, distinguished by fine performances, are perfect examples. All are richly Romantic, suffused with Bax‘s typically long-spanned melodies, the music often mysterious, shadowy and restless, haunted by spectral or mythical images. The influence of his beloved Ireland is prevalent. Indeed, In memoriam, a tribute to his friends caught up in the 1916 Easter Rising, is a moving and plaintive sextet with a folk-like main theme. It shows Bax’s great flair for writing harp music, in ensemble or solo – evident again in Threnody and Scherzo in which the harp gives contrasting chinks of light in a darker, dramatic work coloured by the ruminations of the bassoon and strings. The Concerto’s outer movements are sunny and extrovert and the elegiac Cavatina lingers in the memory. The horn gives perspective and melancholic grandeur to the Octet. Margaret Fingerhut revels in all its romance and passion. Ian Lace

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