The identical program is also available
on Chandos CD CHAN 10112 see reviews:
Jack Benny used to
get a laugh on his radio program just
by mentioning the name of the California
town Cucamonga. Today this would be
politically incorrect, as Cucamonga
was the original native name for the
San Gabriel Valley in California, the
original natives having been exterminated
so quickly they left virtually no other
evidence of their existence except a
few place names. (A mote of justice
has recently been accomplished when
a newly discovered planetoid was named
after one of their Gods, Quaoar.). When
I first moved to Idaho I found that,
if an evening of conversation quieted
down, all one had to do was mention
the name of the Idaho town Pocatello
and everybody would break into laughter
and the evening would liven up again.
For many English the
equivalent of this is to say "Wales."
Especially since Charlton Heston in
"A Man for all Seasons," that’s
been a laugh line. So, whether the very
dignified Frank Bridge would approve
of his music being produced in Wales
is questionable. But perhaps there is
a logic in associating oppressed native
peoples and oppressed composers, for
Bridge has long been one of those "important"
composers who was not much listened
to, although this situation is changing.
However he is for some people a hero,
even a martyr, of British Music, so
I am embarrassed to say I had never
heard any of this music before. Some
have suggested that Bridge’s music is
"derivative," but with careful
listening it is at once obvious that
while some aspects of his style may
be familiar, this is original and captivating
music that is easily accessible.
March" is an interesting work.
From the standpoint of musical quality
it is banal in the extreme, but isn’t
that what one wants for a coronation
march? What member of Royalty would
want to be the second most interesting
thing around to listen to? This work
sounds like a pastiche of all the clichés
from all the film scores you’ve ever
heard; if it had been written for Queen
Elizabeth in 1953 it would have been
embarrassing. But it was written in
1911, sixteen years before the first
sound film! That makes it a fascinating
accomplishment. And, what the heck,
it’s a lot of fun, one pompous fanfare
is reminiscent of, but better than,
Delius; and more sprightly, more "English,"
than Webern’s "Im Sommerwind"
but not completely unlike it in tone.
There is just a touch of Siegfried
here and there as we’re used to from
for Piano and Orchestra is the most
substantial work on the disk. If Debussy
had written a mature piano concerto
it might have sounded something like
this. There is occasionally more than
a whiff of Szymanowski.
de Danse" are not strictly ballet
music, although a ballet could be very
effectively done to them. The rhythmic
passages are frequently interrupted
with reflections. Again the ghosts of
Delius and perhaps Ravel and Chabrier
The ‘Impression for
Small Orchestra, "There is a Willow
Grows aslant a Brook"’ was originally
intended to be a pair with "Summer,"
but ended up being a dark, mysterious
work based on the quotation from Hamlet
which gives it its title. This work
is better known than some of Bridge’s
orchestral music having been previously
recorded by Norman Del Mar and released
on Chandos 6566, reissued on Chandos
"Sir Roger de
Coverley (A Christmas Dance) for Large
Orchestra" (as distinct from the
original version of the work for string
quartet) was orchestrated for Henry
Wood’s Promenade concert on 21 October
1922 and with its quotation from Auld
Lang Syne forms a colourful, cheerful
conclusion for the concert.
I should point out
that I have never been other than amazed
and delighted with any music performed
by Richard Hickox and/or the BBC National
Orchestra of Wales and recorded by Chandos.
Such consistent and dependable quality,
rare enough in this day, deserves frequent
and enthusiastic mention.
The CD tracks on the
SACD would not play in my Sony DDU 1621
DVD drive. If you have this difficulty,
you might want to try this solution
that worked for me on one occasion:
Open Explorer, and double click on your
CD drive. Be sure "hidden"
files and suffices ("Types")
are displayed. You should see the list
of "cdda" files from the CD.
Double click on track 1, and "CD
Player" should open and the disk
should be playable. This solution did
not work with "Media Player 2."
The CD tracks played fine on my other
Sony computer drives, and I had no trouble
playing the disk on my Emerson portable
player which is sometimes balky.
The sound on the SACD
tracks is wonderfully clear and realistic,
even beyond Chandos usual CD quality.
Digital comparison of the wave forms
shows that the CD tracks on the SACD
and the tracks on the CD-only release
are identical to the last bit. This
need not be the case, and may not be
the case with other releases on this
or other labels.
Now, Chandos, old buddies,
how soon do we get the complete orchestral
works of Sir Donald Francis Tovey? You
can do those in Scotland.
written by Rob Barnett