Frank Bridge (1879-1941) composed his “Second String Quartet”
during 1914 and 1915. According to the liner notes, it was
considered to be a transitional piece between his earlier and later
compositional styles. This three-movement work is considered to
be his first chamber masterwork, and the Impressionist mood
conveyed is thought to be similar to that expressed by his
contemporary, Frederick Delius (1862-1934). Bridge’s handling
of the strings and use of form in this piece demonstrates his
expertise as a composer, while also reflecting his experience
as a chamber violist.
His “Phantasy for Piano, Violin, Viola and Cello in F-sharp Minor”
was composed between 1909 and 1910. This fine work is in a
more romantic idiom harmonically, which is redolent of the late
19th Century. Although it consists of a single 12-minute
movement, there are definite demarcations between the
different sections, providing a feeling of multiple movements.
Pianist Martin Roscoe is a fine player in this piece.
Bridge’s “Fourth String Quartet” completes this CD. Like his
“Second String Quartet,” it is also in three movements,
and dates from 1937. Here, the tonal language is MUCH more
chromatic, complete with a stormy first movement and
occasional bits of lyricism from the viola. The second
movement is a spooky little five-minute minuet with an
“uneasy” quality. After a slow introduction, the third and
final movement takes off at an Allegro con brio tempi,
finishing with a sense of affirmation.
I believe that Frank Bridge deserves more recognition as a
strong composer, if not a major one. His reputation certainly
should not be limited to the fact that he was a teacher of
composer Benjamin Britten (1913-1976).
As always, the Maggini Quartet plays these pieces
marvelously and this disc is superbly recorded, in keeping with
the standards of the Naxos label. This is a quality 2005 CD
release, offered at a bargain price. Most of these pieces are
currently available as MP3 downloads.