Bax: Violin Sonata No. 2; Ballad; Legend; Violin Sonatas in G minor and F

COMPOSERS: Bax
LABELS: Naxos
ALBUM TITLE: Bax
WORKS: Violin Sonata No. 2; Ballad; Legend; Violin Sonatas in G minor and F
PERFORMER: Laurence Jackson (violin), Ashley Wass (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 8.570094
The second disc in Laurence Jackson and Ashley Wass’s survey of Bax’s sonatas for violin and piano spans a longer period than the first, including as it does the short ‘pre-First’ G minor Sonata of 1901 – possibly only the first movement of a projected larger design – and the unnumbered F major Sonata of 1928. But the principal work here, and the most important of all Bax’s violin-piano works, is the official Sonata No. 2 of 1915 – a turbulent and deeply-felt piece in four continuous movements whose dominating, resourcefully-used motto-theme is nothing less than the principal theme of the symphonic poem November Woods. The waltz of the second movement, entitled ‘The Grey Dancer in the Twilight’, is a striking inspiration, and the finale is furnished with a full-blown seraphic ‘Epilogue’, a forerunner to those with which Bax came to conclude his symphonies. Ballad and Legend are also strong pieces that are well worth hearing.Jackson and Wass are well acclimatised to Bax’s elusive idioms, and Jackson’s sensitivity and sustained singing tone in places such as the Legend and the slow movement of the Second Sonata are as admirable as Wass’s command of the often challenging piano parts in the fiercer movements. No need for Baxians to hesitate here.

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