Thursday, April 6, 2017

Frank Bridge - Orchestral Works Vol. 6 (Richard Hickox)


Composer: Frank Bridge
  1. Blow out your bugles, for tenor & orchestra
  2. Adoration, for tenor & orchestra
  3. Where she lies asleep, for tenor & orchestra
  4. Love went a-riding, for tenor & orchestra
  5. Thy hand in mine, for tenor & orchestra
  6. Berceuse, for soprano & orchestra
  7. Mantle of blue, for high voice & orchestra
  8. Day after day, for mezzo-soprano & orchestra
  9. Speak to me, my love, for mezzo-soprano & orchestra
  10. Berceuse
  11. 3 Morceaux d'orchestre: 2. Chant d'espérance
  12. Serenade
  13. The Pageant of London, suite for wind orchestra: I. Solemn March "Richard III leaving London"
  14. The Pageant of London, suite for wind orchestra: II. First Discoveries: 1. Introduction
  15. The Pageant of London, suite for wind orchestra: II. First Discoveries: 2. Pavane
  16. The Pageant of London, suite for wind orchestra: II. First Discoveries: 3.La Romanesca [a Galliard]
  17. The Pageant of London, suite for wind orchestra: III. March "Heny VIII entering London"
  18. A Royal Night of Variety

Philip Langridge, tenor (1-5)
Sarah Connolly, mezzo-soprano (6-9)
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Richard Hickox, conductor

Date: 2005
Label: Chandos



For volume 6 we hear premiere recordings of nine songs for solo voice with orchestra. Five are for tenor (Langridge) and four for mezzo (Connolly). His 1918 setting Blow out you bugles from the last year of the war is superbly orchestrated - such jewelled detailing. There are some striking bugle fanfares and an heroic ambience. It sets Rupert Brooke who died in 1915 yet the sentiments - while a delight to hear - would sit uncomfortably with a work such as Bliss’s Morning Heroes or RVW’s Dona Nobis Pacem.

Adoration sets aspirational Keats. Mary Coleridge's Where she lies asleep is a tremblung fragile song. More Coleridge in the galloping Love went a-riding, a very familiar song. It includes some triumphant stuff redolent of Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden gesellen. Thy hand in mine is a short song.

Then come the mezzo songs. Berceuse is a setting of Dorothy Wordsworth. This is gently yet securely done by Connolly on waves of romantic feeling. Mantle of blue also set by Bax, Moeran and Gurney is by Padraic Colum. The words O men from the fields evoke a lovely heat haze made explicit by the music. Lastly there are two songs setting poems by Tagore. These are suggestive and impressionistic rather a step on from the same territory inhabited by Mantle of Blue. These are most beautiful Delian style songs yet more saturated in lyrical confluence. Much the same goes for the last of the nine songs, Speak to me my heart. This inhabits the world of Baines’ Thoughtdrift and Island of the Fey.

These songs stand little chance of concert life - at least not in this format despite often having a big Mahlerian heart and a gift for tenderness.

Berceuse is a heart-wide genre piece. Chant d'esperance is a feathery stately dancing piece - suggestive of ballrooms. Serenade is another Tchaikovskian piece, light on the palate, and passing by absorbed in its own elegance.

The Pageant of London is for wind band. It was written for a London street pageant for the Coronation of George V in 1911. The solemn march, Richard III leaving London is grandly Elgarian. First discoveries looks to Tudor times and with its Pavane and La romanesca we catch a hint of the flavour of those days as filtered through an Edwardian sensibility. The finale is another march, Henry VIII enters London. Now Bridge sheds the pastiche and delivers a march with a more soldierly spirit about it. It's not one of his best though: something of a pot-boiler.

Suitably the disc and the series closes with A Royal Night of Variety from 1934. This so-called epilogue must have made an unwelcome response to the commission for it is a subtle shading down from fanfare to gentle farewell gesture.

Again the notes are by Paul Hindmarsh.

-- Rob Barnett, MusicWeb International


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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