Friday, 3 July 2009

Frank Bridge: Chamber works on SOMM

Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941) Piano Quintet (1905-12) Three Novelletten for string quartet (1904) Rhapsody Trio for 2 violins and viola (1928) Lament for 2 violas (1912) Cherry Ripe (1916) Sir Roger de Coverley (1922) Bridge Quartet (Colin Twigg and Catherine Schofield (violins); Michael Schofield (viola); Lucy Wilding (cello)); Michael Dussek (piano) SOMM CD087

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing this new CD of chamber music by Frank Bridge from SOMM. As is to be expected from this company it is an excellent recording – both from the point of view of the performance and the sound quality.
I began my review by noting the sudden seeming rise in popularity of the Piano Quintet, which I felt was a bit like the “legendary No.8 London bus – they seem to arrive in twos and threes. Only a few weeks ago I had reviewed the fine Hyperion recording of this work, coupled with the Three Idylls and the great Fourth String Quartet”.
When approaching this Quintet it is important to realise that it was extensively rewritten in 1912. The original work was composed in 1905 and was conceived in four ‘muscular’ movements. After a few performances the composer chose to withdraw it. However a few years later he decided to completely rework the piece. The major changes involved the fusing together of the second and third movements and the re-use of scherzo material from the former ‘allegro con brio’ which became the central section of the ‘adagio.’ And finally Bridge made the work cyclic by re-introducing themes from the first movement into the final allegro.
After noticing the Novelletten, which I think are much more important in the Bridge catalogue than may normally be given credit for I considered the great, late Rhapsody Trio for two violins and viola is the only work on this disc that I had not heard before. And my initial reaction is that it has suddenly become one of my favourite pieces of Bridge – overnight...
I concluded my review by suggesting that “the Bridge Quartet and Michael Dussek give a fine account of all the pieces on this well balanced programme. It would be invidious to try to compare all the various complementary recordings of the works on this CD. If I had to choose between this and the Hyperion version of the Quintet I guess that I would nudge toward the latter – simply because I feel it is played more passionately. But the other side of the coin is that this CD is worth buying quite simply for the Rhapsody. This was the major discovery for me and it is great to have an excellent rendition of what must surely be regarded as one of Frank Bridge’s chamber music masterpieces. It is a disc that all Bridge enthusiasts will insist on having in their collections".

Please read the full review at MusicWeb International

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