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I'd been listening to the Handley set of Bax Symphonies and just wasn't connecting with them. I'd been trying over several years, but I just couldn't get into Bax's music. Well, 3 days ago I decided to try a different interpreter/recording and finally hit paydirt! I really, really like the way Lloyd-Jones plays this music. A little less of the "English Pastoral" style and more like a mix of Debussy, Sibelius and Beethoven. I've been working my way through the symphonies in order and today I'm on #6:
I had the same problem with the Handley set of Bax symphonies. I think the problem lies with the sonics. Chandos was hit and miss back then, still stuck in their "back- row-of-the-hall," with plenty of reverb engineering of the 80s. Many, if not most. of their orchestral recordings of that era were unlistenable. They'd even add artificial reverb to recordings they licensed from other companies.While this set isn't the worst of the lot, still, Chandos ruined what could have been a great set of Bax symphonies with their bone-headed engineering.
Agreed, Chandos has very spotty record with recordings. Although I don't feel like that's the case with this particular set, the sound is actually pretty good. A bit laid back, but still quite clear. No, the issue for me anyway, seems to be firmly with Handley. He seems more concerned with "conjuring a sound world" with this music. Many people like this approach, I do not. Lloyd-Jones on the other hand is more focused on the musical argument, the throughline and connecting everything together in a coherent way. That, I love. Edited to add: Chandos did have another set of Bax symphonies conducted by Bryden Thomson, and I agree, the sonics on that are horrible. Way back of the hall and massive reberb. Yuck.
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