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Penguin Guide, January 2009

BAX: Piano Works, Vol. 1 8.557439
BAX: Piano Works, Vol. 2 8.557592

The one-movement First Sonata was composed in the Ukraine in 1910. It is here that the influence of Scriabin is perhaps deepest. The Second Sonata, also in one movement, is bleak, dark and compelling. The Third Sonata of 1926 (Wass’s own favourite) is both atmospheric and rhapsodic, with an Irish folk influence which reaches a turbulent climax and then subsides into a peaceful postlude. The Fourth Sonata, first performed in 1934…is in many ways the most immediately approachable of the series, with a distinct underlying romanticism. Ashley Wass plays all four works with great authority and panache and is equally sympathetic in the shorter pieces, most persuasively bringing out the freely improvisational style. Excellent recording in Potton Hall, Suffolk, and authoritative notes from Lewis Foreman to guide the listener.

Gramophone, October 2004

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