Bax’s Second Violin Sonata reflects the composer’s concerns regarding the First World War. This is particularly evident in the second movement, described by the composer as a ‘dance of death’ in which the violin remains muted throughout.
The unnumbered Sonata in F, actually Bax’s fourth and last Violin Sonata, was suppressed by the composer during his lifetime as he soon scored it as the Nonet. It was not performed as a sonata until the celebrations for the centenary of Bax’s birth in 1983.
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Arnold Bax: Violin Sonata No. 2
I. Slow and gloomy
II. The Grey Dancer in the Twilight
III. Very broad and concentrated
IV. Allegro feroce
Arnold Bax: Ballad
Arnold Bax: Legend for Violin and Piano
Legend for Violin and Piano
Arnold Bax: Violin Sonata in G minor
Violin Sonata in G minor
Arnold Bax: Violin Sonata in F major
I. Molto moderato
“…in…Bax's storm-tossed Second Violin Sonata… these dashingly poised newcomers give of their considerable best, with CBSO leader Laurence Jackson formidably secure in the solo part's more scarily vertiginous exploits. …what lifts this collection into the indispensable category are the spellbinding performances... of the darkly smouldering Legend and Ballad... as well as the Allegro appassionato in G minor... and unpublished F major Sonata of 1928...”
“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.”
“Cast in four linked movements and held together by a motto theme which also appears in the 1917 tone-poem November Woods, Bax's storm-tossed Second Violin Sonata was conceived during the summer of 1915 at a time of great personal upheaval for the 31-year-old composer and comprehensively overhauled six years later. Be it in the seductive sway of the second movement (a ghostly waltz enigmatically entitled 'The Grey Dancer in the Twilight') or hair-raising final climax prior to the ecstatically serene epilogue, these dashingly poised newcomers give of their considerable best, with CBSO leader Laurence Jackson formidably secure in the solo part's more scarily vertiginous exploits. No one coming to this music for the first time will be left unstirred by its piercing beauty, urgency of expression and vaulting ambition. In any case, what lifts this collection into the indispensable category are the spellbinding performances of the darkly smouldering Legend and Ballad from 1915 and 1916 respectively, as well as the Allegro appassionato in G minor (a likeable student effort from 1901) and unpublished F major Sonata of 1928 (which Bax subsequently recast as his captivating Nonet). The Potton Hall sound in these last four items (emanating from sessions a year after those for the Second Sonata) is particularly handsome and true, and the disc as a whole represents yet another 'must have' within this extensive series.”
Click on any of the works listed above for alternative recordings.