Sunday, 14 August 2011

Frank Bridge's Two Poems

Frank Bridge's Two Poems are based on the now largely forgotten writings of Richard Jefferies. Amongst many other things, this author essayed on life in the English countryside. He was a nature mystic. Perhaps his philosophy is best summed up by the quotation 'The sun was stronger than science; the hills more than philosophy.'

The first of the two poems is scored for a small orchestra and has the following written on the manuscript from The Open Air, a book written in 1885, ‘Those thoughts and feelings which are not sharply defined, but have a haze of distance and beauty about them, are always dearest.’ Paul Hindmarsh well describes this miniature as a ‘restrained essay in veiled sonority, sensuous chromaticism and ambivalent tonality.’ It is not quite pastoralism, but comes close. The use of oboe and muted strings lend credence to this impression.
The second poem is in fact a little scherzo. Unlike the first, it has parts for brass and percussion. It differs, too in the fact that this poem is actually harmonically obvious and the formal structure is much more up front. It is more extrovert in its tone. Bridge has applied Jeffries words from The Story of my Heart to the score, “How beautiful a delight to make the world joyous! The song should never be silent, the dance never still, the laugh should sound like water which runs for ever.”
Frank Bridge's Two Poems can be heard on Naxos 8557167, Lyrita SRCD243.

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