Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Frank Bridge - Orchestral Works Vol. 2 (Richard Hickox)


Composer: Frank Bridge
  1. Dance Rhapsody
  2. 5 Entr'actes (from Emile Cammaert's play "The Two Hunchbacks"): Prelude to Act I. Allegretto moderato - Lento
  3. 5 Entr'actes (from Emile Cammaert's play "The Two Hunchbacks"): Intermezzo from Act II. Andantino
  4. 5 Entr'actes (from Emile Cammaert's play "The Two Hunchbacks"): Intermezzo from Act III. Allegretto (marziale)
  5. 5 Entr'actes (from Emile Cammaert's play "The Two Hunchbacks"): Prelude to Act III. Lento
  6. 5 Entr'actes (from Emile Cammaert's play "The Two Hunchbacks"): Entr'actes between Acts II and III. Moderato
  7. Dance Poem
  8. Norse Legend
  9. The Sea: 1. Seascape. Allegro ben moderato
  10. The Sea: 2. Sea-foam. Allegro vivo
  11. The Sea: 3. Moonlight. Adagio ma non troppo
  12. The Sea: 4. Storm. Allegro energico - Allegro moderato e largamente

BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Richard Hickox, conductor

Date: 2002
Label: Chandos



This admirable anthology gets off to a stirring start with the roistering and tuneful Dance Rhapsody from 1908, presented for the first time in its uncut guise (go to 15'22" to hear the bounding measures that Bridge pruned in advance of a 1938 broadcast performance under Clarence Raybould). By contrast, the bewitchingly capricious Dance Poem of five years later exhibits an altogether more subtle harmonic and organic scope (and, like Bax’s contemporaneous Dance of Wild Irravel, at times even spookily anticipates Ravel’s La valse). Hickox directs both these appealing creations with gusto and affection, if without effacing memories of Nicholas Braithwaite and the LPO on a superbly engineered Lyrita LP (11/79 – nla; no sign yet, alas, of a CD transfer). 

Elsewhere, Hickox and his fine band lavish care on the five engaging entr’actes Bridge wrote in 1910 for a London production of Emile Cammaerts’ fairy-tale play for children, The Two Hunchbacks (Bridge employs Belgian folk-tunes to match the Ardennes setting). We also get a shapely reading of the 1905 Norse Rhapsody (originally for violin and piano, and orchestrated in January 1938). As for The Sea (which left the 10-year-old Britten ‘knocked sideways’ when he heard Bridge conduct it at the 1924 Norwich Triennial Festival), I prefer the glorious opening ‘Seascape’ to move on just a fraction more than it does here. Otherwise, Hickox easily holds his own, locating plenty of playful mischief in ‘Sea-Foam’ and moulding the gorgeous ‘Moonlight’ with memorable tenderness (though both Handley and Britten bring a stronger grip to the music overall). 

Excellent orchestral playing, some first-rate annotation by Paul Hindmarsh and characteristically ripe sound from Chandos help to cement a strong recommendation.

-- Andrew Achenbach, Gramophone

More reviews:
Reviews of the whole series (six volumes):


Frank Bridge (26 February 1879 – 10 January 1941) was an English composer, violist and conductor. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London from 1899 to 1903 under Charles Villiers Stanford and others. As a teacher. Bridge is remembered for privately tutoring Benjamin Britten, who later championed his teacher's music. During the war and immediately afterwards Bridge wrote a number of pastoral and elegiac pieces, but after the war his language developed significantly, with more complex, larger works, and more advance harmonic elements and motivic working.


Richard Hickox (5 March 1948 – 23 November 2008) was an English conductor of choral, orchestral and operatic music. He served as Artistic Director of the Northern Sinfonia (1982-1990), Associate Guest Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra (1985-2008) and Principal Conductor of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (2000-2006). His recording repertoire concentrated on British music, in which he made a number of recording premieres for Chandos Records (he made over 280 recordings for this company) and won five Gramophone Awards.


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