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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still unsure about Bridge, but the sound is fabulous, 11 May 2004
By 
P. SIMPSON "nucaleena" (North Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frank Bridge: Orchestral Works, Vol. 3 [Hybrid SACD] (Audio CD)
I'm still not totally convinced about or by Bridge's music but I am convinced about the excellence of the performance and the awesomely great recording.
The music is a mixed bag, with the main work being the Phantasm for piano and orchestra. It starts out impressionistically but goes on to embrace the 1930's stylistically. There's some powerful, impressive and original writing marred (IMHO) by three or four moments of mawkishness which just don't gel with the rest of the work. "Summer" is impressionistic throughout, the March is fun, as is the final dance, and the other two pieces are fine and interesting but no more.
The music couldn't receive better advocacy than it does here though. Shelley, Hickox and the BBC NOoW are convinced by the music and play wonderfully. In the BBC NOoW last disc, of the Berkeleys, I felt that the string tone was light on. Not here. The music itself often requires more intimate timbres than the Berkeley disc, so numbers match effects better, but the strings also sound more up to it. As does every instrument.
And the recording is phenomenal. It's reverberant and warm, in house style, but also incredibly clear and clean. Every instrument sounds fine and Shelley's piano sounds powerful, and all are organically in-place. The recording copes with extremes of volume as well as with the subtler demands of Bridge's impressionistic palette in quieter passages.
At first you might think the surround channels don't add a great deal, but in fact they really give the sound both depth and height. This is particularly and rewardingly noticeable in the Phantasm, where the decay on piano chords is beautifully lengthened and effective. One of Chandos' very best, and that is saying something.
Get the disc if for no other reason than the Phantasm and the fine performance and awesome, 5+ star sound it's given.
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