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Chamber Music By Frank Bridge

Bridge / Bridge String Quartet
Release Date: 08/13/2009 
Label:  Somm   Catalog #: 87  
Composer:  Frank Bridge
Performer:  Michael DussekColin TwiggCatharine SchofieldMichael Schofield
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

" When an ensemble named for a composer tackles that same composer’s work, a listener can at least predict engaged and informed readings, if nothing else. The Bridge Quartet brings the expected affinity with its namesake to a disc that neatly spans the composer’s entire career, giving the Bridge novice a handy way to make an informed assessment. In his native country such an introduction would be unnecessary, since his works are firmly established as part of the canon. On this side of the pond, only devoted chamber-music fans are likely to be familiar with his work, and even this group encounters his work only sporadically.

Bridge’s early infatuation with Fauré is evident in Read more the lush Piano Quintet, a work bound with cyclic themes and brimming with passion (and occasionally sentimentalism). The string players are joined by pianist Michael Dussek in a bold, sumptuous reading. The Novelletten is also a product of his early years, but the romanticism here is of a more innocent variety, and lends the music a pastoral air popular among Brits of this era in particular. The foursome seems particularly at home here, and they wisely don’t attempt to inject profundity into a work that clearly has no such aspirations. Likewise their readings of Cherry Ripe and Sir Roger de Coverley are pleasant and idiomatic.

The real discovery of the disc for Bridge aficionados is the Rhapsody Trio for two violins and viola, a reading that may be the first recording, given the surprising lack of any others in the current catalog. However, this distinction seems unlikely, given the lack of such indication on the disc itself and the trio’s place among Bridge’s mature works. The work dates from 1928, during the composer’s so-called “modernist” phase, a career move that remains a divisive subject for Bridge fans. The expressionist tang of early Schoenberg and Berg is clearly evident here, and some turns of phrase contain eerie echoes of Berg’s Lyric Suite , composed only a couple of years earlier. "

FANFARE: Michael Cameron


The luxuriant romantic melos of the Bridge Piano Quintet instantly suggests a soul-mate kinship with Rachmaninov and Fauré. It was written in 1904 and its romantic atmosphere may owe something to Bridge's forced separation at the time from Ethel Sinclair who was later to become his wife. The original four movements shrank to three when the composer revived the work in 1912. The Bridge Quartet catch its soulful flow with complete conviction and a speaking eloquence. It has about it the heroic adversarial quality of a major piano concerto and a melodic romantic ebb and flow best appreciated in the combined middle movement. The compass needle swings back to triumph for a climactic heroic finale in which love conquers adversity - it's an innocent victory. Strange how the three Novelletten at first sound much later than their true 1904. There is a Russian triumphalism about the last Allegro vivo Novellette. Later comes the Rhapsody Trio - written ten years after the end of the Great War. The language has almost completely changed from the heroics and impressionism of the Novelletten and Quintet. This is Bridge the avant-gardiste: the Bridge of the two last string quartets and the Piano Trio No. 2. It’s a surreal twilit blend with Bergian tendrils of melody and a chittering and twittering interplay that make it a memorable presence in the catalogue. Recordings have not been numerous. The first was on Pearl LP SHE547. The Lament for Two Violas was premiered by the composer and Tertis at the Bechstein Hall in 1912. It's a subdued piece without the melodic fibre of the orchestral Lament. As liberation from this dark mood the last two pieces are the birdsong counter-pointed Cherry Ripe and the splendidly pointed Roger de Coverley with its drone accompaniment and masterly threading of Auld Lang Syne with the de Coverley dance at 3.23 - such playful intricacy and exuberant zest. This is a generous collection, filling many gaps, addressing the two Bridges separated by a war to end all wars. The performances and recordings are vivacious, subtle and faithful to his mercurial muse. The Bridge are a practised and sensitive ensemble and Michael Dussek is a doyen among the pianists who have made themselves familiar with this repertoire. Good notes in French and English but I am none too sure about the ever so pink cover!

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

Quintet for Piano and Strings in D minor, H 49a by Frank Bridge
Performer:  Michael Dussek (Piano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1906/1912; England 
Novelletten (3), H 44 by Frank Bridge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1904; England 
Rhapsody Trio for 2 Violins and Viola by Frank Bridge
Performer:  Colin Twigg (Violin), Catharine Schofield (Violin), Michael Schofield (Viola)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: England 
Lament for 2 Violins and Viola by Frank Bridge
Performer:  Michael Schofield (Viola), Colin Twigg (Violin), Catharine Schofield (Violin)
Period: 20th Centurye 
Written: England 
Old English Songs (2): no 2, Cherry Ripe, H 119b by Frank Bridge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1916; England 
Sir Roger de Coverley, H 155 by Frank Bridge
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bridge String Quartet
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; England 

Sound Samples

Piano Quintet in D Minor: I. Adagio - Allegro moderato
Piano Quintet in D Minor: II. Adagio ma non troppo
Piano Quintet in D Minor: III. Allegro energico
Novelletten: I. Andante moderato
Novelletten: II. Presto: Allegretto
Novelletten: III. Allegro vivo
Trio, rhapsody
2 Pieces for 2 Violas: No. 2. Lament in C Minor
Cherry Ripe
Sir Roger de Coverley, "A Christmas Dance"

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