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Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Enter Spring - rhapsody (1927) [21.22]
The Sea - suite for orchestra (1910) [20.43]
Summer - tone poem (1914) [9.37]
Cherry Ripe (1916) [3.23]
Lament (1915) [4.27]
Royal Liverpool PO/Charles Groves
rec Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool, 14-15 July 1975 ADD
EMI CLASSICS CDM 5 66855 2 [59.53]


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Liverpool has for long years been a friend of British music. Whether it was under Bantock, Groves or Handley the orchestra and the Philharmonic Hall have, season after season, echoed to the transiently unfashionable and overlooked - the neglected and the negligible. EMI often travelled to Liverpool as one of the twin capitals of the North-West during the 1960s and 1970s and this collection is part of the harvest of those days.

Bridge owes his orchestral rebirth to this collection. Even Britten who provided a home for Bridge revivals at Snape failed to record anything so substantial. The original ASD LP served as a call to arms soon answered by Pearl and Lyrita. The 1974 Proms echoed exultantly to Groves performance of Enter Spring with the BBCSO - a performance with much more corybantic abandon than this one! However the Rhapsody is extremely well done here. This is perhaps Bridge's symphony in all but name. It is as instinct with symphonic gravamen as Sibelius's Pohjola's Daughter. Enter Spring remains one of the most startlingly confident and exultant works of the 1920s and catches Bridge on the cusp between his Summer lyricism and the dissonant adventures of Oration and Phantasm. Glorious! By its side The Sea - an extremely imaginative impressionistic work - sounds restrained. Summer is a delight and stands in the same warm shadows and dazzling June sunlight shared and shone by Butterworth's A Shropshire Lad. Cherry Ripe is charming light music - and Bridge was good at such things. A Lament (written for one of the child fatalities caused by the sinking of the Lusitania in 1916) is touching.

Predictably good notes by Anthony Payne best known now for his realisation of Elgar 3 but a fine composer and a staunch friend to the music of Bridge and Bax.

A classic of the gramophone.

Rob Barnett

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