Bax: Cello Sonata in E flat; Legend-Sonata in F sharp minor; Sonatina in D; Folk-Tale

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COMPOSERS: Bax
LABELS: ASV
WORKS: Cello Sonata in E flat; Legend-Sonata in F sharp minor; Sonatina in D; Folk-Tale
PERFORMER: Bernard Gregor-Smith (cello), Yolande Wrigley (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD DCA 896 DDD
Arnold Bax is best known for his orchestral music, and his symphonies in particular, but in truth his output ranged across practically all the main forms, with the exception of opera. This disc, which adds some fine music to the catalogue, confirms the importance of chamber music at every stage of Bax’s career.

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All the pieces are works of quality. The Folk-Tale (1918) builds up to a fierce climax and is generally ‘melancholy and expressive’, the large-scale Sonata (1923) recalls the power of Bax the symphonist, particularly in the driving rhythms which open the finale, while the Sonatina (1934) is rather more modest in its scope. The Legend-Sonata (1943) has a splendid sweep, looking back in style to the tone poem The Garden of Fand (1916), which it quotes. And the finale features one of Bax’s finest tunes.

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Bernard Gregor-Smith, best known as the Lindsay Quartet’s cellist, brings a commanding assurance to this repertoire, aided by his wife and regular accompanist Yolande Wrigley. With its well-balanced recording and excellent documentation, this disc can be recommended to anyone wishing to explore the hidden treasures of British chamber music. Terry Barfoot