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CD Review

Arnold Bax

  • Symphony #2 in E minor
  • Symphony #5 in C Sharp minor
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Myer Fredman
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Raymond Leppard
Lyrita SRCD233 78m ADD Recorded 1971/2
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These wonderful and definitive interpretations of these two Bax symphonies finally make a most welcome return to the catalogue. Although we have had many fine Bax cycles since these legendary recordings were set down, almost forty years ago, none has remotely approached the authority of these versions.

Fredman has an uncanny sense of line and momentum which makes the 2nd Symphony move along in a thrilling manner. The Andante is particularly beautiful and reflective, especially in its central part with the London Symphony strings showing their top notch capabilities in what is quite an astounding recording.

The Fifth Symphony is no less successful under Raymond Leppard's inspired direction. The Poco lento piu mosso allegro is an epic movement, just over 17 minutes in length and comes across magnificently. The same could be said of the Poco lento whilst the last movement has the bleakness and power of a desolate and windswept Irish landscape, always so dear to the composer's heart.

To sum up, these are essential versions for any self respecting Baxian and with excellent notes by Robert Layton and Lewis Foreman, one cannot really hesitate in making a purchase. Lyrita is to be congratulated for making these quite splendid recordings available again to the music loving public.

Copyright © 2008, Gerald Fenech