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Steve Schwartz
Classical Net, June 2012

The Third Symphony, the one I most wanted to hear, became the last I heard. Naxos, with David Lloyd-Jones, offers a fine, inexpensive alternative.

The gorgeous second movement shows Bax…taking his own view of British Pastoralism.

The finale opens with a jaunty rondo, with elements of the grotesque…It does…make a satisfying end to the symphony, begun in anxiety, a lovely, serene, almost other-worldly note. Bax carries off the trick of moving from one to the other seamlessly.

Substantially composed in 1914, The Happy Forest finally appeared, fully orchestrated, in 1923. Bax’s score opens with bustle, rising to pure animal spirits. The dancers take a breather, in a lovely, lyrical middle, Spring-fresh, a long way from Debussy’s steamy summer heat, before they return to the bustle and dance over the hill…it is indeed charming, light music at its best. Bax’s orchestration stands out not just for its sound, but for its management of instrumental entrances and exits. Orchestras must find this fun to play.

David Lloyd-Jones and his Scots keep a tight grip on the symphony and serve up plenty of bounce in the tone poem. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review




Penguin Guide, January 2009

David Lloyd-Jones continues his admirable Bax series with a warmly idiomatic account of the Third Symphony of 1929, spacious in the long first movement and the meditative slow movement, defying any diffuseness of argument. The playing of the Scottish Orchestra is clear and refined, helped by the transparency of the recording, clarifying often thick textures. From earlier in Bax’s career The Happy Forest, described as a ‘nature poem’, provides a refreshing contrast in its youthful energy, tauter, less expansive.



Peter J. Rabinowitz
Fanfare, August 2000

"The Third, composed in 1928-29, is probably the most popular (and certainly the most often recorded) of the Bax symphonies. I suspect that's because it's the most immediately accessible. Both musically and emotionally it challenges its listeners far less forcefully than its rugged and crushing predecessors did; and it's arguably more focused than the baggy Fourth, and melodically more distinguished than the final three. Yet for all its superficial allure-for all the seductive thrall of its lyricism (especially in the sumptuous second movement and the reflective Epilog), for all the surge of its outburst (one can almost hear premonitions of the Korngold swashbucklers in the climax of the first movement)-it's far from sunny in spirit. The more robust passages (especially the militaristic outbursts in the finale) are often marked by an angry snarl; and while the introspective episodes rarely turn bleak (nothing here has the damp chill, the sense of overwhelming loss we hear in Tintagel), their typically Baxian ache swings the nostalgia toward the regretful rather than the merely sweet."



Roger Hecht
American Record Guide, August 2000

Lloyd-Jones "keeps his lines defined in the vital slow music of I and the Lento, clarifying textures while probing, molding, and shaping phrases to produce an ebb and flow. In doing so, he draws a link to Elgar by revealing the same nooks and crannies that make up Elgar's melodic linesust as wisely, Lloyd-Jones does not blur orchestral textures to create 'impressionism'. His woodwinds stand out, adding important color, energy, and briskness; the first violins are sweet and silvery, and the brass are crisp and clean. (The latter could be darker, but I'm quibbling.) Suddenly we notice the interweaving strings in the slow passage of I; the eerie spell before the muted trumpets (14:02) the shocking climax at 15:30 and the following brass fanfares, the way the trumpet solo in the Lento breathes rather than is just slow, etc."



Fono Forum, May 2000

"Ähnlich wie Richard Strauss entfacht Bax in seinen Partituren ein orchestrales Feuerwerk der Sonderklasse. Eine riesige Besetzung, dunkle, ungewöhnliche Klangfarben, schwelgerische Melodien, griffige Motive und ein wogender Romantizismus kennzeichnen auch seine 1930 uraufgeführte dritte Sinfonie. Das schottische Orchestre spielt das gigantische Opus mit zupackendem Temperament und bewundernswerter Virtuosität in allen Gruppen. Auch die Aufnahmetechnik lässt keine Wunsche offen."



Rad Bennett
ClassicsToday.com, May 2000

"David Lloyd-Jones once again leads the excellent Scottish orchestra in a reading that is radiant and lyrical, and paced exactly right. The sounds of nature have seldom been so successfully translated into musical expression, and the superb engineering partners the performance hand in glove. If you like Vaughan Williams, especially his Pastoral Symphony, you will no doubt love this music. Start with this, the most popular of the composer's symphonies, backtrack to symphonies 1 & 2, already available on Naxos CD; then, along with me, keenly anticipate further releases in this magical series."



Maxim Lawrence
Classics, April 2000

"Un excellent nouveau jalon consacré à Bax."

"An excellent new milestone devoted to Bax."



Lewis Foreman
The British Music Society, March 2000

"...there is no doubt about it that in many ways this new Naxos recoding is the best so far: a conductor and orchestra who demonstrably seem to relish Bax's romantic orchestral writing; a splendid recorded sound and a budget label. What more cold one want? ... In fact, almost everything about Lloyd Jones's performance is so 'right' one wonders whether he and the orchestra have been playing the music all their lives instead of coming together for it only in the studio. The opening bassoon solo and the ensuing intertwining winds is more expressive and involving than any I have heard (which includes among broadcasts and live performances conducted by Sargent, del Mar, Handford and Handley), while the various transitions between fast and slow music always feel inevitable in Lloyd Jones's hands. Wonderful, too, is the articulation of the strings-those occasional trills in the violins are as cogent and effective as I have imagined them. Another thing: the recorded sound really supports the music, with textures clean and well defined, and the lower wind-that rasping woody sound of contra bassoon and bass clarinet-particularly well caught. ... I could not be more enthusiastic about the whole enterprise. Whether you are keen on Bax or not, for under a fiver do try it; it should be in every collection of twentieth century British music."



Geoffrey Norris
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), February 2000

"While it is not unusual for a composer, however much lauded in his lifetime, to suffer neglect after his death, the rehabilitation of Sir Arnold Bax is long overdue. Listening to this new disc of his Third Symphony in Naxos's Gramophone award-winning series of British music, it is hard to understand why Bax cannot now make the occasional final leap back into concert-hall programmes, for it is strong, evocative stuff.
Bax was not of the namby-pamby school of English music. This symphony, completed in 1929 and first performed by Sir Henry Wood the following year, is muscular and cogent in its thematic ideas and structural workings, and glows in its command of orchestral colouring. There is also a potent, bard-like atmosphere to it, which David Lloyd-Jones and the RSNO capture with a sensitive ear.
An early review of one of Wood's performances spoke of the slow movement and Epilogue as being 'unsurpassed in contemporary music for beauty of sound'. On this compelling recording, that beauty is matched by rhythmic zest and pungent spirit."



Gramophone, February 2000

"I am mightily impressed by David Lloyd-Jones's clear-headed, purposeful conducting of this intoxicating repertoire... he also draws some enthusiastic playing from the RSNO, which responds throughout with commendable polish and keen application.
Tim Handley's excellently balanced recording is rich and refined... A disc not to be missed."






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