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Frank Bridge is one of those composers who has been generally dismissed for his ‘Englishness’ and is probably remembered best today as the teacher of Benjamin Britten. But this disc of chamber music will radically change this appraisal. It particularly reveals Bridge’s strong French influence, the dance-like quality of his writing darkened with a brooding inspiration, and the music’s dramatic and emotional heart. Three important and very different works are collected here: the elegant early Idylls, the ambitious Piano Quintet and the extraordinary String Quartet No 4, Bridge’s last chamber work, written during a period of near-fatal illness, yet displaying a progressive, forward-looking musical language that shows the great range of this undervalued composer.
We are delighted to welcome the Goldner Quartet back to Hyperion for their second disc. Their first—also featuring pianist Piers Lane—was universally acclaimed as a truly great chamber recording, and has been nominated for a BBC Music Magazine award.
“This is an absolutely splendid disc, with powerful, committed performances that illuminate Frank Bridge's mastery of chamber music in two major scores, early and late, as well as the famous Idylls of 1906: programming that offers a fine introduction to Frank Bridge's astonishing stylistic range.”
“These unfailingly sympathetic, flexible and exhilarating assured performances (that of the Quartet, on balance, the finest to date) have been most truthfully captured by the microphones…”
3rd May 2009
“The Goldner Quartet really understand this music and with masterly pianist Piers Lane throw welcome light on a neglected page of British music.”
“Frank Bridge's comprehensive 1912 revision of his D minor Piano Quintet from seven years before remains the sole comparative dud in his early chamber output – and not even this splendidly articulate rendering from Piers Lane and the Goldners can persuade otherwise. The original work's four movements are condensed to three, its centrepiece a gratefully lyrical amalgam of slow movement and scherzo enclosed within one of Bridge's arch-like 'phantasy'structures. Alas, the opening movement (after a promising start) soon drifts into a worryingly humdrum, sequential lassitude, and the finale fails to provide sufficient ballast to counterbalance what has preceded it. The Three Idylls of 1906 are an infinitely more enticing proposition – exquisitely crafted, keenly proportioned and supremely touching miniatures for string quartet, the second of which later provided the 23-year-old Britten with the theme for his Op 10 Variations for string orchestra. The Fourth Quartet is utterly different again. Completed in 1937 after a near-fatal bout of bronchitis, this is arguably Bridge's most rivetingly cogent and harmonically bracing statement, evincing a deftness, compassion and unerring intellectual scope that beg comparison with the greatest 20th-century examples in the medium. These unfailingly sympathetic, flexible and exhilaratingly assured performances have been most truthfully captured. So, despite reservations surrounding the Quintet, this is clearly a release to investigate.”
“the performance here has irresistable impetus and responds to the music's rich, lyrical feeling.”
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