Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Arnold Bax: Symphonic Variations

I can remember finding a vinyl recording of Arnold Bax’s The Tale the Pine Trees Knew in Symphony One. This was the classical record shop in Glasgow in the mid nineteen seventies. Certainly I count this disc as my introduction to Bax’s music. However I can remember noticing on the LP cover a reference to the Symphonic Variations which had been a previous release by the pianist Joyce Hatto and the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Vernon Handley. I really wanted that album: for some reason I lusted after it. Naturally, they tried to get it for me, but failed. I think I even wrote to the company- Revolution – but latterly gave up in my quest. I guess I must have forgotten about it –at least until Margaret Fingerhut’s recording on CD was issued in the ‘eighties. And then of course we were in the CD world. Yet, just the other day, I read a review for my coveted work on MusicWeb International by Rob Barnett. It has been released on CD! At least with the Internet it should not prove quite as hard to track down this time…and there is always E-BAY for the old LP!
Rob’s review is excellent and serves as an instructive essay on the work, the pianist and Bax himself. He concludes by saying:-
"This is a mystic-enigmatic work with an idyllic Olympian character given its wayward head by Joyce Hatto and Vernon Handley. The much more recent recording by Margaret Fingerhut is in better sound and has the advantage of an urtext version. However nothing better captures the rapturous pioneering spirit of the Bax revival than Hatto’s version."
Please read Rob Barnett’s review here


The Dotterel said...

And it's by good old Tod Handley in his Guildford Phil days! What a champion of English music he's been. Where's his knighthood?

Anonymous said...

What is the point in discussing the merits of a performer who does not exist. This 'Hatto' affair must be most confusing to those who are unaware that a part of a deception Joyce Hatto was a name given to other pianists performances.

Baron Bliss

Can Bass 1 said...

Oh dear, Baron Bliss doesn't seem too happy. I rather thought that *was* the point, but then... who am I?