Thursday, April 6, 2017

Frank Bridge - Orchestral Works Vol. 5 (Richard Hickox)


Information

Composer: Frank Bridge
  1. Suite for Strings: I. Prelude
  2. Suite for Strings: II. Intermezzo
  3. Suite for Strings: III. Nocturne
  4. Suite for Strings: IV. Finale
  5. The Hag, song for baritone & orchestra
  6. 2 Songs of Robert Bridges: 1. I praise the tender flower
  7. 2 Songs of Robert Bridges: 2. Thou didst delight my eyes
  8. 2 Intermezzi from "Threads": I. Andante molto moderato e tranquillo
  9. 2 Intermezzi from "Threads": II. Tempo di valse - Animato
  10. 2 Old English Songs, for string orchestra: 1. Sally in Our Alley
  11. 2 Old English Songs, for string orchestra: 2.. Cherry ripe
  12. 2 Entr'actes: I. Rosemary
  13. 2 Entr'actes: II. Canzonetta
  14. Valse Intermezzo à cordes
  15. Todessehnsucht, for string orchestra (after J.S. Bach's "Komm, süßer Tod", BWV 478)
  16. Sir Roger de Coverley (A Christmas Dance), for strings

Roderick Williams, baritone (5-7)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Richard Hickox, conductor

Date: 2004
Label: Chandos
https://www.chandos.net/products/catalogue/CHAN%2010246

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Review

This is Volume 5 of Chandos’s indispensable Frank Bridge series. The Suite for Strings is superbly done, Richard Hickox being fully alive to the wide range of moods that make up the four movements. Drawing excellent playing, Hickox catches the rumination and growth of the opening Prelude, the perkiness and expressive asides of the Intermezzo creates a haunting atmosphere for the introspective Nocturne, and the Finale scampers with good humor.

The rest of the CD is of miniatures, each memorable, and including first recordings. Of the latter, the songs include The Hag (Robert Herrick), a wild ride, Bridge’s orchestration full of demonic touches, and a thrilling experience. Of the texts by Robert Bridges, “I praise the tender flower” is a contemplative, lyrical setting, one with quiet ardor, which contrasts with the more animated and no less amorous setting of “Thou didst delight my eyes.” It’s hard to believe that these three songs have not been sung for nearly a century! Roderick Williams does them proud.

The music from Threads, a comedy by Frank Stayton, was published in scoring for “theatre orchestra”; the yearning first intermezzo contrasts with the skittish second, a delightful waltz. For similar scoring are the two entr’actes. The first, Rosemary, is a tenderly expressive creation that grows in wonderment before returning to nostalgia; the Canzonetta that follows is strangely gawky in places and colorfully scored to match its Mediterranean inspiration.

The remaining pieces are for strings. Two Old English Songs consists of the heartfelt “Sally in Our Alley,” devastatingly beautiful, so imaginatively arranged, and eloquently performed here. Second is the melody of “Cherry Ripe,” merely hinted at for a while as Bridge enjoys decorating the tune’s outline. The Valse-Intermezzo is courtly and refined, and, despite its charm, maybe a little long. Todessehnsucht (also a first recording) is Bridge’s sonorous and deeply felt arrangement of Bach’s “Komm süsser Tod” (BWV 478), while the lively dance, Sir Roger de Coverley, is given with buoyancy and athleticism (if without quite erasing memories of the versions by Boult and Britten, respectively for Lyrita and Decca). Hickox has recorded the full orchestra version of Sir Roger on Volume 3 of Chandos’s admirable series.

What might seem like a CD of Bridge off-cuts is, in fact, a substantial and worthwhile collection.

-- Colin Anderson, FANFARE

More reviews:
http://www.gramophone.co.uk/review/bridge-orchestral-vocal-works-vol-5
http://www.classical-music.com/review/bridge-10
Whole series:
http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2010/Nov10/Bridge_Hickox.htm
http://www.allmusic.com/album/frank-bridge-orchestral-works-mw0002385088

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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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Bridge

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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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Hickox

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