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Track(s) taken from CDA66807

Harp Quintet

1919; Tempo moderato

The Nash Ensemble
Recording details: June 1995
Henry Wood Hall, London, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Antony Howell & Julian Millard
Release date: February 1996
Total duration: 14 minutes 32 seconds

Cover artwork: Pastures at Malahide by Nathaniel Hone the Younger (1831-1917)
The National Gallery of Ireland


'How marvellous it is after all these years to be able to welcome a truly first-rate modern recording of Bax's Nonet. What a bewitching creation it is … This treasurable Hyperion release will certainly figure in my 'Critics' Choice' list at the end of the year … Music-making of exquisite poise and remarkable perception' (Gramophone)

'This collection serves Bax admirably and contains some real discoveries' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Performances of exemplary quality' (The Penguin Guide to Compact Discs)

'Lovers of Bax's lushly romantic, turbulently Celtic symphonies and tone poems will find much that is alluring in this selection … Moments of sweeping rhapsody abound throughout the disc. Seriously smitten Baxians will be thrilled by this new CD' (Classic CD)

'C'est ici la quintessence de la magie baxienne' (Diapason, France)
In 1919 Bax returned to Ireland, probably for the first time since the War. His play, The Grey Swan, and the second Piano Sonata were surely stimulated by that visit, and it is probable this Quintet was, too, evocative of revisiting familiar places and people Bax had known. The Quintet is in one movement, and of its two principal themes the first four notes of the first constitute a motif which recurs in the second. As in all Bax’s work with harp, the quality of the actual sound is important, and a climax early in the piece, molto vivace, for tremolando strings, for example, is orchestral in effect. In a later passage muted strings are contrasted softly with the tone colour of the harp, while occasional use of harp harmonics adds to Bax’s varied and colourful palette. Although written in 1919 this striking score was not first performed until February 1921, when the string quartet was the Philharmonic Quartet to whose violist, Raymond Jeremy, it is dedicated.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 1995

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