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Frank Bridge’s reputation as the teacher of his most famous student, Benjamin Britten, has long hindered appreciation of his own impeccably crafted music.
Between the early Phantasie Trio (1907) and Miniatures (1908) and the masterful Piano Trio No. 2 (1928-29), Bridge developed from being a pupil of Stanford to becoming a composer whose music — by turns graceful, nocturnal and vigorous — pointed towards the future.
Frank Bridge: Phantasie Piano Trio in C minor, "Piano Trio No. 1"
I. Allegro moderato ma con fuoco
II. Andante con molto espressione
III. Allegro scherzoso
IV. Allegro moderato
Frank Bridge: Piano Trio No. 2
II. Molto allegro
III. Andante molto
IV. Allegro ma non troppo
Frank Bridge: Miniatures for piano trio
Set 1: No. 1. Minuet
Set 1: No. 2. Gavotte
Set 1: No. 3. Allegretto
Set 2: No. 4. Romance
Set 2: No. 5. Intermezzo
Set 2: No. 6. Saltarello
Set 3: No. 7. Valse russe
Set 3: No. 8. Hornpipe
Set 3: No. 9. Marche militaire
“Frank Bridge's two piano trios make a natural coupling. The 1907 Phantasie Trio is a prime example of the ruggedly mellifluous chamber style of his early years… The much larger Trio No. 2 (1928-29), on the other hand, is an austere, haunted masterpiece in his later idiom... The players on this new disc, including noted Bridge specialist Ashley Wass as pianist, understand these widely divergent idioms perfectly, and display some superb ensemble playing: their account of the Molto allegro of Trio No. 2 - at once feather-light and sinister - is nothing other than a joy to hear.”
“How encouraging to see Ashley Wass branching into Bridge's chamber output – and with such gifted colleagues, too. This Naxos version of the adorable, Cobbett Prize-winning Phantasie Trio is an adroit and boldly characterised affair. The three sets of Miniatures probably date from the following year and comprise nine exquisitely crafted and tuneful morsels originally intended for domestic use. They're best dipped into rather than played at one stretch, but all are dispatched with sizzling panache and evident relish by these elegant performers. Of course, the masterpiece here is the epic Second Piano Trio of 1929, one of Bridge's most cogent, questing and durable utterances, whose radical language so bamboozled the largely conservative British critics of the period. Wass and company lend it exhilarating advocacy in a realisation of enviable security, unswerving concentration and burning conviction. Tip-top production values and exemplary notes set the seal on an irresistible bargain.”
“…the masterpiece here is the epic Second Piano Trio of 1929, one of Bridge's most cogent, questing and durable utterances, whose radical language so bamboozled the largely conservative British critics of the period. Wass and company lend it exhilarating advocacy in a realisation of enviable security, unswerving concentration and burning conviction. Tip-top production values from Andrew Walton and exemplary notes by Andrew Burn set the seal on an irresistible bargain.”
22nd May 2009
“These are important and fascinating discs, which anyone interested in 20th-century British music should hear.”