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CHAN 10164
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CHAN 10164
Works for Chorus and Orchestra

Bax: Works for Chorus and Orchestra

The Classical Shop
release date: January 2004

Originally recorded in 2003


BBC Philharmonic

Martyn Brabbins

Christine Bunning


Huddersfield Choral Society


Leeds Town Hall

Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester


Brian Couzens


Ralph Couzens


Mike George



Stephen Rinker

Denise Else

(Assistant: Nocturnes)

Tim Archer

(Assistant: other works)

Record Label



Orchestral & Concertos

Total Time - 59:53
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Works for Chorus and Orchestra



Select Complete Single Disc for
  premiere recordings  

St Patrick's Breastplate (1923)

  for chorus and orchestra  
  Maestoso - Poco vivace - Largamente -  

Nocturnes (1911)*

  for soprano and orchestra  
2 1 Aufblick. Lento 4:13
3 2 Liebesode. Andante - Molto tranquillo 3:58

The Morning Watch (1935)

  for chorus and orchestra  
  To Sir Ivor Atkins (in memory of very old days)  
  Poco lento alla breve - Allegro risoluto -  

To the Name above every Name (1923)*

  for soprano, chorus and orchestra  
  Maestoso estatico - Tempo moderato - Tempo I -  
This is the latest CD from Chandos marking the 50th anniversary of the death of this great British composer. Chandos has long been a champion of the music of Sir Arnold Bax and has certainly contributed to the composer’s increasing reputation.

Bax is not usually thought of as a choral composer. His seven works for chorus and orchestra are undeservedly neglected and indeed were almost completely unplayed until the concerts celebrating the centenary of his birth in 1983.

Much of this music is only available on this CD.

Martyn Brabbins is famous for his interpretations of British music, and has received excellent critical acclaim for his previous recordings on Chandos of Bax, Clifford, Bainton and Gregson.

In 1911, after his marriage and probably while still on honeymoon, Bax started writing a cycle of three Nocturnes for soprano and orchestra. ‘Aufblick’, the first, is based on a poem by Richard Dehmel, a lament for the loss of love which would hardly seem the natural choice of a newly married man! Shortly afterwards, Bax orchestrated an earlier song, ‘Liebesode’, to a poem by O.E. Hartleben, as the second Nocturne. Bax appears to have rejected the songs almost immediately for no third Nocturne survives, nor, in all probability, was ever written.

To the Name above every Name was written to a commission for the 1923 Three Choirs Festival. It is a setting of a truncated version of a mystical poem by Richard Crashaw and Bax responds to the vivid imagery with blazing choral and orchestral textures and detailed polyphony.

The text for St Patrick’s Breastplate (1923) is a translation of the Irish hymn Lúireach Naoimh Pádraig. Though not announced as celebrating any particular event, it is surely significant that Bax should choose the moment of the resolution of the Irish Civil War, and the final establishment of a viable independent Ireland, to compose this ecstatic setting.

Bax received a second commission for the Three Choirs Festival in 1935. The Morning Watch is a setting of a poem by another metaphysical poet, Henry Vaughan. Vaughan Williams was in the audience at its premiere and described the setting of the central words of the work – ‘Prayer is the world in tune’ – as being ‘of ineffable beauty’.

In sum this is a fine recording of some rare pieces, recommended to fans of Bax and early 20th Century works for chorus and orchestra.
American Record Guide

Martyn Brabbins proves a sympathetic guide and while the Huddersfield Choral Society dont surmount every technical hurdle, the BBC Philharmonic play admirably, while Chandos ample recording recreates a not entirely inapt cathedral-like setting' Despite minor niggles, a bold and very welcome release.

Martyn Brabbins charismatic approach makes one wonder why these impressive pieces have had to wait some 80 years for their premiere recordings.
The Independent

Rare jewels not to be missed
Yorkshire Post

J Rattee

S Preston