Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Three Orchestral Full Scores from Faber Music
Enter Spring (1927)
Oration - Concerto Elegiaco (1930)
Mid of the Night (1903)
297 x 210mm
**Mid of the Night and the (soon to be published) Five Entr'actes
have never previously been available.**
Ordering details and cost of postage from:-
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With the exception of Pearl and Continuum record companies have only flirted
with the recording of the music of Frank Bridge. Among Bridge publishers
the counterparts to those two companies is Faber Music. In the past of course
Lyrita (a sequence of LPs typically never reissued on CD) and EMI (an outstanding
isolated Groves collection).
Bridge alongside Britten and Malcolm Arnold forms one of mainstays of Faber
Music's music catalogue. It is apt that Britten and Bridge rub shoulders
here. Britten was a pupil of Bridge's. Britten also shared Bridge's pacifism
brought about or accentuated by the Great War. Britten was deeply impressed
by at least two of Bridge's scores: The Sea (and its influence is
patent in the Sea Interludes - from Peter Grimes) and Enter
Spring (which I suggest had its effect on the pages of Britten's Spring
Symphony). What continues to puzzle me is that Britten did not (as far as
I know) champion Oration or Phantasm at Aldeburgh. Oration
would have been a natural for Rostropovich and Richter would probably
have taken to Phantasm.
The three orchestral scores listed above are in standard format. These three
are large size study scores not compressed miniatures. Enter Spring and
Oration (with Phantasm for piano and orchestra) represent the
peak of Bridge's achievement. The latter two are 9 inches x twelve inches
(c. 22cm x 30cm). The very recently issued Symphonic Poem Mid of the Night
is 21cm x 28cm. All are limp bound. These will need to be held open rather
than allowed to bend flat on a desk or table. All three have been produced
with the admirable financial assistance of the Frank Bridge Trust.
Mid of the Night is a 97 page score. It is the only one of he three
to sport an introductory note from Bridge expert Paul Hindmarsh. The printing
is beautifully clear and should be a great asset later this year (2001).
At long last after many a rumour and false start Chandos will be launching
their complete edition of the Frank Bridge orchestral music. The first disc
in that sequence will include this early tone poem which has been dubbed
Mid of the Night to overcome the anonymity of its original title 'Symphonic
Poem'. This work was performed only once in Bridge's lifetime. This event
took place at the St James's Hall., London on 20 May 1904 with Bridge conducting.
Bridge completed this elaborate score during the summer of 1903 after graduation
from the Royal College of Music. The title comes from the first line of the
poem (presumably Bridge's own work) which prefaces the score - Comes the
mid of the night, ends for a while the brooding. In this work, rather
as he had in the later but still immature tone poem Isabella Bridge drifted
out of the Stanford-Parry focus towards the more instinctive and rhapsodic
school of Frederick Corder and the Royal Academy. Paul Hindmarsh's note indicates
that the source for the score is an autograph manuscript which forms part
of the Bridge MS Collection left to the RCM on the death of Bridge's widow.
Hindmarsh points out that the score is coloured by the music of Tchaikovsky.
I am expecting the style to be similar or traceable from the 1907 Bridge
tone poem Isabella which has been revived by Bela de Csillery with
the Kent County Youth Orchestra, Howard Williams and the BBC Northern and
the same conductor with the Prospect Music Group Orchestra. I am sure that
when we hear this work our pleasure will be greatly assisted by this extremely
finely printed score. Definition of the printed music is clear and the printing
is a fine black against a matte white paper.
The other two scores have been longer in the Faber catalogue and their prices
are more approachable. Oration is marked as having been edited by
Paul Hindmarsh as has Mid of the Night. Oration was published
in 1979 and Enter Spring in 1977 (contemporaneous with the EMI Groves/RLPO
recording and the Proms performance). Both look very good to this day and
Faber still have both in stock. Oration and Mid of the Night have
protective laminate on their covers whereas Enter Spring is a simple
matte surface. The title and font style of all three scores is consistent.
Enter Spring is a superb score, fully mature and challengingly salty.
In it Bridge resolves the ecstasy of Summer via the escalated complexity
of the Two Jefferies Poems into the powerful ambiguities of Oration
and Phantasm. Its uproar and forward thrust, when it comes, is
out of the same primer as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. While parts
of it may well be as impressionistic as Bax's Spring Fire, Happy
Forest and Nympholept there is a symphonic 'bigness' about this
music that eludes Bax (at least in those works). This is truly great music
and I still recall the impact of hearing it for the first time when it was
conducted by Charles Groves. Oddly enough it was not the famous EMI recording
issued in the 1970s but the Proms broadcast with the BBCSO in 1978.
There are a number of compact British works which I associate with symphonic
weight and which for me have that inevitability and epic sense. Enter
Spring rests in the distinguished company of William Alwyn's Fifth Symphony
Hydriotaphia, Constant Lambert's greyly titled Music for
Orchestra, Rubbra's Symphony No. 11 and one other Spring work, John Foulds'
April-England. When the great swinging Bell of Spring tolls out quietly
and then with increasing urgency and clamour we look towards the power of
the Russian spring as exemplified by Stravinsky in the Rite. Absolutely
Concerto Elegiaco raises expectations of a similarity in mood to the
Elgar Cello Concerto completed a decade earlier. The Bridge however weaves
anger and negation into the lament for friends and fancies swept away by
the Great War. 'Oration' is defined as "a formal speech; a harangue."
What sort of oration is the Bridge work? It is in the nature of a noble funeral
speech with cross-currents of bitterness and disillusion. The mood is bitter
and the stuttering figure given to the cello and echoed in the orchestra
sounds like a wormwood fanfare. I remain unclear why Bridge shied away from
calling Oration a Cello Concerto (although its subsidiary title
is Concerto Elegiaco). Perhaps he wanted to avoid any hint
of showy finery or display. The pity however is that the title probably militates
against the work's inclusion in concert programmes. This is a tough work.
Indeed its companion, Phantasm has slightly more in the way of display
than does Oration. Its message however is clear and for once sorrow
is not much softened by tears but instead is stiffened by sour protest, nobility
and anger. This is very much a work for modern times.
MusicWeb has a detailed Frank Bridge