Arnold Bax, BAX: Symphony No 6 / Into the Twilight

James Jolly

By James Jolly

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The sound of writing at white heat.

I owe my conversion to this great work to Jim Svejda of Los Angeles's KUSC. He rates it as one of the real symphonic masterpieces of the 20th century and I'm inclined to agree with him. We played it on a show we did together a couple of years ago and I've been totally enraptured with it ever since (an odd memento of L.A., but stranger things happen!). It's another powerful work, a potent blend of fantasy and violence which Bax's rich and very individual language can encompass with ease. David Lloyd-Jones makes a fine job of the piece, gathering his players around him in the eye of the storm that is the first movement, but allowing them the opportunity to sing out in the ravishing winter landscape of the second movement. The finale is dispatched with terrific control and the RSNO play this evidently unfamiliar music with great commitment. This was Bax writing at white heat, and if it converts you to his cause then I will be happy indeed.