June Emerson Wind Music
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Printed Edition
Composer:Bax, Arnold (1883-1953)
Instrumentation:cl. pft.
Publisher Ref:M050032953
A sonata in two substantial movements by a firmly romantic composer.
Price: £12.95
Skill Level:D/E
Publisher:Studio Music
Year of Issue:1943
ISBN:none specified
Although he was a very fine pianist and could play any orchestral score at site on the piano whilst a student at the Royal College of Music, Arnold Bax had significant private means and never performed, preferring to compose instead. Impressions from a brief visit to Russia in 1910 can be heard in some of his piano pieces, but a stronger influence was the 'Celtic Revival' and his love of Irish folklore and scenery which inform his seven symphonies and orchestral tone poems 'Tintagel', 'The Garden of Fand' and 'November Woods'. Bax did not share an interest in folk music with contemporaries like Vaughan Williams, preferring to follow his own path in writing music containing "robustness and wistfulness" which was sufficiently well received for him to be appointed Master of the King's Music in 1941. He described himself as "A brazen romantic - by which I mean that my music is the expression of emotional states. I have no interest whatever in sound for its own sake or in any modernistisms or factions."

From a manuscript discovered in 1981, it appears that Bax's Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in D Major was written in 1901 but apparently not published until 1935, and dedicated to the amateur clarinettist Hugh Prew who played cricket with the composer. It was first performed by Thurston Dart in June the following year, accompanied by Harriet Cohen at the piano. Unusually, it is in two movements, the first rhapsodic and chromatic with a tendency to favour the middle to lower register which gives it a feeling of introspection. The second movement is dominated by rapid running semiquavers and, when the second subject is recapitulated there are references to the themes which open the first movement which also return in the coda, bringing the sonata to a very quiet ending.
  • I Molto moderato
  • II Vivace

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