The three works on this CD are all arrangements for string orchestra of early works by Frank Bridge (1879-1941). The music dates from the early years of the twentieth century and so is part of Bridge's earlier output, written before his harmonic language became much more severe.
The most substantial offering is the Chamber Concerto which is an arrangement of Bridge's D minor Quintet for piano and strings. This was composed in 1905 but, as Paul Hindmarsh relates in his informative notes, was very substantially revised in 1912. In fact, much of the work was completely rewritten. The American-Armenian pianist and conductor, Constantine Orbelian, made his arrangement after hearing Carole Rosenberger and principals of the Moscow Chamber Orchestra perform the original quintet in 1999. The arrangement was first performed, by the present artists, in February 2000 and this recording followed hard on the heels of the premiere.
The 'new' concerto seems to me to work very well. Bridge's music is big and passionate and as such it seems well suited to its new orchestral guise. Carole Rosenberger gives a strong performance of the demanding piano part and the MCO support her with ardent and committed playing - their playing at the climax of the slow movement is particularly passionate.
It is unclear when Lucas Drew made his arrangement of what is perhaps Bridge's best-known chamber work but I assume that it was fairly recently. The three short movements were designed for the intimacy of the string quartet but seem to make the transition to orchestral status successfully. As is the case throughout the disc Orbelian secures playing of sensitivity and finesse from his orchestra of which he has been Music Director since 1991. (I would have been interested to know how many players were used and whether a larger band was employed for the Concerto.)
The Four Pieces have been assembled by Paul Hindmarsh using short pieces which Bridge composed between 1901 and 1903. As he relates in his notes, the impetus was the wish to provide a new context for a Valse-Intermezzo for string orchestra which dates from 1902. This is placed second in the new suite and is a most engaging and fresh piece, well worth hearing. Its three companions began life as chamber pieces for various combinations of instruments. Frankly, they are not as interesting as the waltz but they are well-crafted and the suite as a whole is enjoyable. Hindmarsh's collection should be a welcome addition to the chamber orchestra repertoire.
All the performances on this CD are excellent and the recorded sound is good. Congratulations to Delos on an interesting and enterprising release.
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