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Bridge: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

Bridge: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

1 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Original Release Date: 1 Nov 2001
  • Label: Chandos
  • Copyright: (C) 2001 Chandos
  • Total Length: 1:15:50
  • Genres:
  • ASIN: B001MV1IWA
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,974 in MP3 Albums (See Top 100 in MP3 Albums)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This is the business! 30 Nov 2001
By K. Farrington - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I love Frank Bridge. I begin this review with this unabashed confession because I already knew that I would love this CD even before I heard a note of it. Richard Hickox delighted us with his Rubbra symphonic cycle over the past few years and now he is going to treat us to Frank Bridges works on Chandos.
Bridge is somewhat of an enigmatic figure to the lover of the 20th century English Musical Renaissance. I recall in the 1960's he was just referred to as 'Benjamin Britten's teacher'but recordings of his music were non existant or out of production. Then to halt this moribund period, in the last days of LPs, in 1976, Charles Groves conducted the Royal Liverpool PO in a LP of Bridge which included 'The Sea' and the masterly 'Enter Spring-rhapsody'. This first foray gave me my first taste of Bridge and I found him uneven but nevertheless compelling. Then Lyrita came out with a few LPs (Dance Rhapsody; Rebus; Phantasm) and I keenly added these to my collection.
Bridge uses the late romantic orchestra with great assurance, never flashy but still clean and brilliant in his orchestral tone. But his whimsical and sad down turns in melodic and harmonic structure give us a unique voice: it sounds like a sad gray Sunday afternoon in late November, and the autumnal colors bring out a brooding and sensitive personality who was genuinely horrified at the 1914-18 conflagration. On the other side of his musical personality, his tuneful and 'easy on the ear' early works matured and he produced magnificent large scale works like 'Oration' and 'Enter-Spring' in the 1920s onwards. He was a true professional for did not sacrifice his aesthetic standards...his music became unpopular as it was perceived as 'modern' by audiences that championed the 'continental' modern experiments of Webern and Schoenberg yet neglected his home grown post-romanticism. In fact this latter term is really misleading; for Bridge was always romantic at heart and even in his most 'advanced' or 'modern' pieces the human being and its fate remain the core to his work.
Hickox produces here a first rate performance from his Welsh players and his tempi are spot on throughout; when Bridge wants to reflect beside the babbling brook his does not want us to rush away; and Hickox (and we) stay right there with him.
Enter Spring-rhapsody was originally entitled 'On Friston Down'. This place is about 10 miles from me in East Sussex and nestles in the dumpy South Downs with their rabbit bitten pastures and broad blue skies under a keen breeze. The piece has one of the most compelling English idylls I know in the central pastoral section. I do not play it often in order to preserve its impact on my emotions, which it does every time. The rapture under the first warmth of Spring after the chill of winter's winds is so moving that it can scarcely be described in words, for it must be heard in Bridge's own music. The beautiful melody becomes a triumphant march that strides across the chalk hills under brilliant skies of spring....wonderful! The swirling panorama of chalk hills, woodlands and blazing heavens takes us up as in a helicopter and the arrival of spring, stately but exultant, is burned into our musical sensibilities to the last cadence.
Isabella is a tone poem in which the disciplined Bridge keeps very close to the Keats poem action. It is a masterpiece of episodic writing with Bridge's deft touch and lovely melody.
The two poems remind me of those Greek Thespian masks for one cries in pensive dark despair while the other chortles in its ecstatic dance. Again the orchestral detail and phrasing is all there, as good as the Lyrita original on LP that dates from the late 70's. The similarities with some of Delius's Dance Rhapsody may be noted but the themes are Bridge's own.
The 'Mid of the Night' is an early large work dating from 1904 when the composer was only 24. The music might lack the bite of Enter Spring or the orchestral brilliance of the Two Poems but the hallmarks of Bridge are all there and this addition to our catalogues must be warmly received indeed. The sad cor anglais the finely divided strings and the deep throb of the basses....oh the humanity!
I cannot say more than this: I cannot imagine enjoying a CD more than could not get any better. This deserves to be a best seller.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
excellent music YOU HAVEN'T HEARD, not to be missed 10 July 2002
By rash67 - Published on
Format: Audio CD
I was hoping to write the first review, but I see Keith has beat me to it with another excellent insightful review of an English composer.
What can I add? Classical Music for the last 150 years or so has been dominated by a "Deutchland Uber Alles" attitude. For good reason, I guess, there are a great number of great German composers. But I've heard them. I have their CD's. I used to think, when younger, that there was this vast supply of great classical music out there. More lately I've learned that there are really a limited number of great pieces and a lot of drek and even the Great Masters produced, in addition to their masterpieces, a lot of music that wasn't that good. And in the 20th century, much German music got entirely too dissonant for my taste.
There are a lot of great English/British Isles/Irish composers who were popular in England during their lives, but over shadowed by their German counterparts. There is a lot of great English music that most people, people who KNOW classical music, have never heard! I especially speak of Bax, Stanford, Parry, Bridge, Butterworth and Moeran.
This is the first of a series of the orchestral music of underknown composer. Because of when he lived, Bridge's music can be divided into three periods: Late Romantic, Impressionist, and "I'm really really angry/depressed/bitter about the World War I". The music on this album focuses, thankfully, on the first two periods.
The music is lush and beautiful in places and just MAGICAL in others! Rapsodic. This music, like that of Stanford, contains a deep sense of inner peace, order and beauty.
I especially like the Two Poems.
Repeated listening will allow it's many virtues to unfold.
Excellent performance and recording. Deserves more stars, if it were better known, under my tough grading system!
Now Chandos, where is the overdue Frank Bridge, Volume 2?
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