Saturday, 28 March 2009

Frank Bridge: Piano Trios on Naxos

Frank Bridge (1879-1941) Phantasie Trio in C minor (Piano Trio No.1) (1907) Piano Trio No.2 (1928-29) Nine Miniatures for Piano Trio (1908)
Jack Liebeck (violin); Alexander Chaushian (cello); Ashley Wass (piano) NAXOS 8.570792

I had the pleasure of reviewing this latest volume of Frank Bridge’s chamber music on Naxos. I begun my review by quoting that great promoter of British chamber music, W.W. Cobbett. “At a lecture given at the Royal Academy of Music, he wrote that “Mr. Bridge’s Trio is of a remarkable beauty and brilliance and stamps him as one of our foremost composers for the chamber.” He concluded his comments by noting that this had a “…lavishness to which I can recall few precedents, he has provided thematic material more than sufficient for a lengthy work in sonata form.”

This is an approachable work which compares dramatically with the Piano Trio No.2 . “I have always felt that the Piano Trio No.2 is not an easy work to approach. It would certainly not be on my list of pieces intended to introduce a newcomer to the music of Frank Bridge. Even for listeners who know Rosemary, Cherry Ripe and The Sea this music will appear difficult, disjointed and perhaps even distant.

The Second Piano Trio inhabits a world far removed from the salon music and orchestral tone poems of the composer’s Edwardian period. Yet, many commentators insist that it is Bridge’s chamber music masterpiece: this is a view held by Anthony Payne the composer’s advocate and biographer...
It is an opinion that I am perhaps inching towards each time I hear the work – however, I have to confess that I know that I would rather listen to the earlier chamber works for “sheer indulgence and enjoyment” (my heart) although recognising that it is an important and essential pieces (head).

I concluded my review by stating that I was "totally impressed by the quality of the playing on this disc. Ashley Wass has recently established himself as one of the ‘Bridge’ aficionados … along with Mark Bebbington and Peter Jacobs. The sound is perfect which allows the listener the opportunity to hear these works in the best possible environment".

Please read the full review at MusicWeb International

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