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Bax & Bridge: Piano Quintets
Recognised as rising stars of their generation, pianist Ashley Wass and the Tippett Quartet join forces to present two contrasting yet equally engaging British piano quintets.
Conceived on a grand, expansive scale and influenced by Celtic music, with all manner of harmonic and instrumental colours exploited to super effect, Arnold Bax’s Quintet is arguably a precursor of his later symphonies.
Frank Bridge’s early work (1904-5, revised 1912) combines his admiration for the music of Fauré with the highly integrated ‘fantasy’ techniques he honed when composing music for the famous Cobbett Prize.
“Conceived on a large scale and cunningly wrought, Arnold Bax’s Piano Quintet ...is given a vibrant performance by Ashley Wass and the Tippett Quartet, one that does not shy away from the music’s monumental architecture and density of texture but at the same time brings vitality to its Celtic melodic contours.” The Telegraph, 29th October 2010 ****
“Wass and the Tippett Quartet rise magnificently to [the Bax's] challenges, striking the perfect balance between sheer OTT grandiloquence and intense and genuine feeling...this is a thrilling performance with the authentic all-or-nothing flavour.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2010 ****
“At 41 minutes the Quintet may be on the long side but it certainly holds the interest throughout, particularly in a fine performance such as this by the Tippett Quartet and Ashley Wass, who obviously relishes the virtuoso element in the piano writing.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2011
“[The Bax] brings the best out of pianist Ashley Wass and the Tippett Quartet, for they attack Bax's huge, teeming first movement with gung-ho intensity that sweeps all before it, and which they sustain right through the work.” The Guardian, 16th December 2010 ***
“Counfounding the popular view of him as fey rural pastoralist, Bax's Piano Quintet is wonderfully off-the-leash and extreme...The Tippetts choose not to compromise their physical impact, nor Bax's obsessive-compulsive, hard-driven finale...I can't imagine the Bax receiving a more passionate, devoted performance.” Classic FM Magazine, January 2011 ****
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Bridge - Piano Quintet, String Quartet & Idylls
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.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 *****
“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…” Gramophone Magazine, July 2009
“The Goldner Quartet really understand this music and with masterly pianist Piers Lane throw welcome light on a neglected page of British music.” The Observer, 3rd May 2009
“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.” Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010
“the performance here has irresistable impetus and responds to the music's rich, lyrical feeling.” Penguin Guide, 2011 edition
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Frank Bridge & Cyril Scott: Piano Quintets
In memory of Raphael Terroni 1945-2012
Raphael Terroni (piano)
Bingham String Quartet
This recording, following his pioneering account of Scott’s Sonata No. 3, was entirely down to Ray’s vision and efforts. His recorded legacy, which should been larger, includes Lennox Berkeley, Goossens, Scott, Leighton, Holbrooke, Cooke, Milford, Arthur Butterworth and Eric Coates. It’s impressive and rewarding. This, displaying so many of his strengths and enthusiasms, was always especially close to his heart though.
“Scott's Piano Quintet is played with passion and the closest rapport by the much-missed Terroni and the Binghams. Bridge's rhapsodic, open-hearted Piano Quintet is also an enjoyable feast.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2013 ****
“the results are both moving and powerful...Cyril Scott's First Piano Quintet emerges as very much the work of a pianist-composer and is dedicated to Debussy...The results are warmly expressive and spontaneous-sounding over all four movements. It is good to have these fine works available on disc at last.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2013
“This is playing that is sincere, vital, passionate and highly responsive to the demands of these scores.” MusicWeb International, April 2013
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Bridge: Piano Quintet & Violin Sonata
Recorded: Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth, 21-23 December 2009
London Bridge Ensemble: Daniel Tong (piano), Benjamin Nabarro (violin), Lucy Gould (violin), Tom Dunn (viola) & Kate Gould (cello)
In this tuneful and attractive programme Daniel Tong (piano) and the London Bridge Ensemble present three major chamber works by Frank Bridge from his engaging pre-First World War period, including the recording of Paul Hindmarsh’s edition of the Violin Sonata in E flat. Commanding performances of the well-known Piano Quintet of 1912 and the comparatively little-known Phantasie in F minor for string quartet, with which Bridge won second prize in the Cobbett Competition in 1905, make a fine group. These major works are complemented by charming performances of three piano pieces – April, Rosemary and Valse Capricieuse – two for viola and piano – Pensiero and the powerful Allegro Appasionato – and the Spring Song for cello and piano.
“the poetry, flexibility and ardour displayed by these gifted players held me captive from first note to last...Don't hesitate for a moment - and fingers crossed for more Bridge from this exemplary team!” Gramophone Magazine, December 2010
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Chamber Music by Frank Bridge
The works performed are Piano Quintet, Three Noveletten, Rhapsody Trio, Lament for Two Violins and viola, Cherry Ripe, Sir Roger de Coverley. The Bridge Quartet is firmly established as one of Britain’s leading string quartets. Their recordings of the complete quartets by Bridge have led to invitations to tour internationally.
“…what makes this Somm disc especially valuable is the spellbinding account of the Rhapsody Trio for two violins and viola, perhaps the most elusive and fantastic of Bridge's late chamber scores, in the weird, near-atonal filigree writing of its outer sections. ...another disc that all Bridge enthusiasts will want to own.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2009 *****
“…an attractive collection of Bridge's shorter chamber pieces, neatly presented in affectionate idiomatic performances.” Gramophone Magazine, October 2009
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