Notes and Editorial Reviews
String Quartet No. 4
Goldner Str Qrt; Piers Lane (pn)
HYPERION 67726 (65:19)
Reviewing the Bochmann recording of Bridge’s late Fourth Quartet, Jerry Dubins described its surfaces (as opposed to its classical deep structure) as “unrelievedly dissonant and peckish.” Perhaps we’re quibbling over connotations, but the word “peckish” seems to trivialize this anguished response to a long, near-fatal illness—while the word
“unrelievedly” seems to flatten the music’s taxing but clearly upward-moving trajectory. Granted, the work is “tortured,” as Dubins suggests. The first movement opens with a burst of angularity that, while technically tonal, shows that Bridge had more than a passing sympathy for the concerns of the Second Vienna School; the more lyrical second theme serves as only a partial counterbalance, since it, too, has its under-the-surface demons. The second movement is superficially lighter, but its tipsiness exhibits more than a hint of threat; only the finale, after a wrenching opening, seems to break free, and even here, the festive is mixed with the frenetic. Still, the Fourth Quartet does achieve a kind of self-willed resolution, one that emerges strongly in this powerful and articulate reading, every bit the equal of the highly regarded versions by the Maggini and Bridge Quartets.
This new disc is all the more welcome for the inclusion of a soaring account of the early Piano Quintet. If you love Fauré or the Fauré-struck Quintet of Amy Beach (best heard in the sweeping performance by Anne-Marie McDermott and the Escher Quartet, CMS Studio 3, reviewed by Michael Cameron in 32:5), you’ll want to know Bridge’s youthful but sure-footed essay, too. The more popular
—harmonically and emotionally exploratory works that are nowhere near as dippy at their title suggests—form an excellent buffer between the two large-scale works, and get equally convincing interpretations. Fine sound, good notes. Another triumph for Hyperion.
FANFARE: Peter J. Rabinowitz
Works on This Recording
Quartet for Strings no 4, H 188 by Frank Bridge
Goldner String Quartet
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1937; England
Length: 22 Minutes 57 Secs.
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