Thursday, 12 March 2009

Frank Bridge: Piano Music Volume 2 on Somm

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
The Piano Music: Volume 2
Fairy Tale Suite (1917) In Autumn (1924) Miniature Pastorals Set 1 (1917) Etude Rhapsodique (1905) Graziella (1926) Dramatic Fantasia (1906) Three Pieces for Piano (1901:1913) A Sea Idyll (1905) Miniature Suite (1921) Characteristic Pieces (1917)
Mark Bebbington, piano

Recently I had the pleasure of reviewing this latest volume of Mark Bebbinton playing Frank Bridge’s piano music. I opened my discussion by giving a brief comment on the availability of this repertoire:- “I remember a number of years ago finding a copy of Peter Jacobs’ Continuum cycle of the ‘complete’ piano works of Frank Bridge in a second-hand record shop. These were issued in the early 1990s. I devoured them eagerly and was convinced at the time that this was the definitive recording. I never imagined that in my lifetime another two ‘complete’ projects would be announced. Naxos has, so far, issued a couple of volumes by Ashley Wass. And then there is the present cycle – now also onto its second volume. The exciting thing about all these three editions is that they explore - or promise to explore - the entire piano repertoire of Frank Bridge.”

“Perhaps the key to understanding Bridge’s “music is to realise that he had a creative hiatus during and after the Great War. Although there were still approachable works and even some ‘salon’ pieces, the general tenor of Bridge’s mature compositions moved towards boundaries laid down by Bartók and Berg rather than any British model. In some of his late compositions he was beginning to experiment with music that is pushing towards a ‘twelve tone’ synthesis but without ever subscribing to a particular system.”

And finally, I felt that it “is an invidious task to suggest what is the ‘best’ recorded edition of Frank Bridge’s piano music. Peter Jacobs’ Continuum version is not typically available in the record shops – although they can be found for sale on some websites – either second-hand or ‘new.’ As this was the edition through which I discovered this great music, I tend to have a soft spot for it. However, I have recently enjoyed listening to Ashley Wass on Naxos – he seems to have taken Bridge to his heart and had produced a number of excellent performances. Bebbington impresses me too. I think especially of the romantic Etude Rhapsodique and the less that innocent Fairy Tale Suite. And lastly, he does not mock the Miniature Pastorals. In spite of their technical simplicity he does take them seriously and presents them with care and with love.”

Please read the full review at MusicWeb Internaitonal

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