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Cat. No. CHAN 10246 Price: £5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10246 - Bridge: Orchestral Works, Vol. 5
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Available From: 06 September 2004
Writing in 1947, Britten set out some persuasive reasons why the so-called salon music – the easy-going lighter work of his early years – of his teacher and mentor Frank Bridge should be taken as seriously as the masterworks of his maturity. Bridge, he observed, ‘wanted to write or play music grateful and easy to listen to, which some people label and dismiss as salon music…’ Bridge’s early works, such as the elegant Valse Intermezzo à cordes, are confident and technically accomplished.

While Bridge was never as adventurous in writing for the human voice as he was in writing for strings, his song settings are exquisite. There are some unexplored gems, notably his songs with orchestral accompaniment. The three recorded here are receiving their first performance for almost one hundred years.

The Suite for Strings possesses all those ingredients that Britten so admired in his teacher’s early works – Gallic grace and technical sophistication. Although Bridge never considered himself to be part of an English school of composers, he used modal themes surprisingly often, such as at the opening of the Prelude’. There is grace and charm in the ‘Intermezzo’ and with the haunting ‘Nocturne’, Bridge enters deeper emotional territory.

In 1921 Bridge composed an incidental score for a three-act comedy called Threads. The play sank without a trace, but Bridge’s music stole the headlines. The first of the Two Intermezzi from ‘Threads’, a gentle Andante, contains one of Bridge’s trademark wistful, ‘English’ melodies. The second, Tempo di valse, is one of the most exuberant of his dance movements – a pastiche Viennese waltz, with an energy and orchestral colour that look forward to Enter Spring.

In 1932 Bridge was invited by Oxford University Press to contribute to a piano album of Bach transcriptions. Bridge later adapted his arrangement of Komm, süßer Tod, given the title Todessehnsucht, for orchestra and his richly textured version is as luxuriant as any transcription by Stokowski.
Reviews

      Review for Volumes 1 - 6
"...Throughout these six collections the BBC National Orchestra of Wales are on top form; they obviously enjoy the music. Hickox is persuasively idiomatic an spontaneous, and the Chandos recording is first class)"

The Pengiun Guide – 1000 Greatest Classical Recordings 2011-12


This is Volume 5 of Chandos’ indispensable Frank Bridge series. The Suite for Strings is superbly done, Richard Hickox being fully alive to the wide range of moods that make up the four movements. Drawing excellent playing, Hickox catches the rumination and growth of the opening Prelude, the perkiness and expressive asides of the Intermezzo creates a haunting atmosphere for the introspective Nocturne, and the Finale scampers with good humour. The rest of the CD is of miniatures, each memorable, and including first recordings.
Fanfare

'Sound, lacking nothing in clarity and warmth, is well up to the standard of previous volumes - as is Paul Hindmarsh's enthusiastic note. One disc to go… should make a fitting close to this valuable series.'
International Record Review

'Another valuable survey, then, glowingly engineered by Ralph Couzens and expertly annotated by Paul Hindmarsh.'
Gramophone

'But there is still a more substantial gem, the Suite for Strings - a work that deserves to be ranked alongside the better-known British classics for string orchestra (Elgar, Vaughan Williams , Britten and Tippett.)'
BBC Music Magazines

Here is Volume 5 in a superb series of Frank Bridge’s orchestral music… This is a beautifully played and produced program of under-valued British music, and is recommended along with the other volumes in the series.
American Record Guide

 

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