BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATERS
Melvyn M. Sobel | Freeport (Long Island), New York | 06/23/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Our English cousin, Frank Bridge [1879-1941], like his contemporary EJ Moeran, is a ridiculously neglected composer. Again, like Moeran, Bridge seems to have garnered most attention through his orchestral works, such as his beautiful suite, "The Sea." Lucky we are, then, to have this Naxos recording of a goodly selection of early Bridge quartet works, superbly produced and engineered, with the Maggini foursome at the helm. These are not the acerbic and sparse compositions of Bridge's later years, but rather his chamber music at its most inviting.
That said, the opening Phantasie Quartet in F Minor (1905) strikes one immediately as innovative and attractive, its first movement quite endearing and possessing a delicious lyrical main theme. The second movement Andante has a sweet lilting quality to it bringing to mind the English countryside. The final Allegro is, well, if anything, a jaunty ride through the hills and dales.
The three Novelletten (1904) again display Bridge's proclivity towards melody and lyricism: the first, a gentle, soothing Andante; the second, a mild-mannered Presto accented by plucked strings; the third, a memorable,full-blooded Allegro.
The Three Idylls are of exceptional grace and beauty, especially the first, and the longest of the three, marked Adagio molto espressivo.
The four pieces Bridge "translates," not transcribes, from traditional English tunes (incl. "An Irish Melody," "Sir Roger," "Sally in Our Alley" and "Cherry Ripe") he accomplishes within his own idiom, and there are not just a few nods at Ravel and the French School, either, hidden amongst the English lyricism.
Capping the CD are three heretofore unrecorded works by Bridge of rather short duration, but all quite delightful, anyway.
[Running time: 59:55]"
Immensely pleasurable listening
jsa | San Diego, CA United States | 02/23/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've had this Frank Bridge chamber music anthology in my library for most of the fifteen years that it's been around. Indeed, it's one of the most-played discs in my British music collection. These early works by Bridge are joyful, meditative, atmospheric and richly reflective of the English folk tradition - all of which make them an immense pleasure to listen to. There's no shortage of substance and creative ideas here, all played with imagination and enthusiasm by the excellent Maggini Quartet.
Bridge was greatly affected by the First World War and also attracted to the music of the Second Viennese School (Schoenberg, Webern and Berg), influences that began showing up in his music by the mid-1920's. Critics and academics may appreciate the increased "seriousness" of the composer's work at this time, but I find his music much less compelling as he "evolved." While his early first and second string quartets are first rank, his third and fourth quartets which were written in the mid-20's and 30's sound as though they came from a different pen.
If I were to recommend just one collection of music by Bridge, this Naxos disc would be it."