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Friday, April 7, 2017

Frank Bridge - Piano Quintet; String Quartet No. 4; Three Idylls (Piers Lane; Goldner String Quartet)


Composer: Frank Bridge
  1. Piano Quintet: 1. Adagio - Allegro moderato
  2. Piano Quintet: 2. Adagio ma non troppo
  3. Piano Quintet: 3. Allegro energico
  4. Three Idylls: Adagio molto espressivo
  5. Three Idylls: Allegretto poco lento
  6. Three Idylls: Allegro con moto
  7. String Quartet No. 4: 1. Allegro energico
  8. String Quartet No. 4: 2. Quasi minuetto
  9. String Quartet No. 4: 3. Adagio ma non troppo - Allegro con brio

Piers Lane, piano
Goldner String Quartet
Dene Olding, violin
Dimity Hall, violin
Irina Morozova, viola
Julian Smiles, cello

Date: 2009
Label: Hyperion



Reviewing the Bochmann recording of Bridge’s late Fourth Quartet, Jerry Dubins described its surfaces (as opposed to its classical deep structure) as “unrelievedly dissonant and peckish.” Perhaps we’re quibbling over connotations, but the word “peckish” seems to trivialize this anguished response to a long, near-fatal illness—while the word “unrelievedly” seems to flatten the music’s taxing but clearly upward-moving trajectory. Granted, the work is “tortured,” as Dubins suggests. The first movement opens with a burst of angularity that, while technically tonal, shows that Bridge had more than a passing sympathy for the concerns of the Second Vienna School; the more lyrical second theme serves as only a partial counterbalance, since it, too, has its under-the-surface demons. The second movement is superficially lighter, but its tipsiness exhibits more than a hint of threat; only the finale, after a wrenching opening, seems to break free, and even here, the festive is mixed with the frenetic. Still, the Fourth Quartet does achieve a kind of self-willed resolution, one that emerges strongly in this powerful and articulate reading, every bit the equal of the highly regarded versions by the Maggini and Bridge Quartets.

This new disc is all the more welcome for the inclusion of a soaring account of the early Piano Quintet. If you love Fauré or the Fauré-struck Quintet of Amy Beach (best heard in the sweeping performance by Anne-Marie McDermott and the Escher Quartet, CMS Studio 3, reviewed by Michael Cameron in 32:5), you’ll want to know Bridge’s youthful but sure-footed essay, too. The more popular Idylls —harmonically and emotionally exploratory works that are nowhere near as dippy at their title suggests—form an excellent buffer between the two large-scale works, and get equally convincing interpretations. Fine sound, good notes. Another triumph for Hyperion. 

-- Peter J. Rabinowitz, FANFARE

More reviews:
BBC Music Magazine  PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: ****


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.


Piers Lane (born 8 January 1958) is an Australian classical pianist. He graduated with a Medal of Excellence from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, where his teacher was Nancy Weir. His performance career has taken him to more than 40 countries. His concerto repertoire exceeds 75 works. Lane has an extensive discography on the Hyperion label and has also recorded for EMI, Decca, BMG, Lyrita and Unicorn-Kanchana. Lane is a well-known voice on BBC Radio 3, having written and presented more than 100 programs, including a 54-part series called The Piano.


Goldner String Quartet is an Australian string quartet formed in 1995 in honour of Richard Goldner, the founder of Musica Viva Australia. The Quartet consists of Dene Olding and Dimity Hall (violins), Irina Morozova (viola; an ex-pupil of Goldner) and Julian Smiles (cello). Olding and Morozova are married, as are Hall and Smiles. The Goldners have played throughout Australia and New Zealand, as well in the UK, USA, Korea, Finland, France and Italy. In 1997 the Goldner String Quartet made its debut at the Wigmore Hall in London, and have since appeared there regularly.


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