Wonderful debut album featuring Bax’ piano music

Piano music by Arnold Bax

Natalia Williams-Wandoch (piano)

If you enjoyed Mark Bebbington’s recent release ‘Private Passions’ or simply love the music of Sir Arnold Bax then you really should seek out this new debut release from the UK based pianist¹ Natalia Williams-Wandoch on the Usk Recordings label.

This collection opens with the delightful Nympholept which I knew from its later orchestral version on a CD conducted by the late Vernon Handley. This is followed by the Sonata in B flat (‘Salzburg’) – a work which has an almost Mozartian feel to it! Natalia then plays the Two Hungarian Dances which are among the composer’s earliest surviving compositions, written when he was in his mid-teens. The disc ends with a finely played performance of The Happy Forest which also was later orchestrated by Bax and was included on the above mentioned Vernon Handley release. It is to her great credit that Natalia realises the timbres and textures of these works so effectively on the piano that I really did not miss the orchestration!

All but one movement of the Sonata in B flat are world premiere recordings thus this release represents a valuable addition to the Bax discography; featuring a range of piano works from very different stages of Bax’ life. These pieces are very well played and the recording, made in St John the Evangelist Church, Oxford, is very clear. I enjoyed the release greatly and I shall return to this CD frequently as it is worthy of repeated listening. I, for one, will be eagerly anticipating future releases from this pianist who deserves a much wider audience.

Piano music by Arnold Bax can be downloaded in CD quality from Qobuz (link below) or purchased as a physical CD from the pianist’s website or tutti.co.uk. It can also be purchased in mp3 quality using the links below.

iClassical rating:

¹ A pianist whom I had not previously encountered.