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Frank BRIDGE (1879-1941)
Chandos Collected Orchestral Works Vol 5
Suite for Strings (1909-10)
The Hag (1902) *
Two Songs of Robert Bridges (1905-06) *
Two Intermezzi from ‘Threads’ (1921/38) *
Two Old English Songs (1916)
Two Entr’actes (1906/36)
Valse Intermezzo à cordes (1902)
Todessehnsucht (1932/36)
Sir Roger de Coverley (A Christmas dance) (1922/39)
Roderick Williams (baritone) *
BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox
Rec. Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 3-4 December 2003. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN 10246 [68:17]


The fifth volume in Chandos’s survey of the works of Frank Bridge is mainly composed of charming miniatures performed with great refinement and enchantment by Hickox’s Welsh orchestra.

Some have been recorded before. The Two Entr’actes, for instance, but never so beautifully articulated as here: the haunting Rosemary so touchingly phrased but never cloying and the bell-like tones of Canzonetta with its more chaotic commedia dell’arte middle section equally appealing. Bridge’s version of Sir Roger de Coverley, with its exuberant rhythmic variations, and the appearance of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, has been recorded too and here it has all the merriment of a Christmas celebration. Two other well known Old English Songs: ‘Sally in Our Alley’ and ‘Cherry Ripe’, are fondly arranged for string orchestra, the former with sophisticated and delicate harmonies, the latter in bustling, skittish, contrapuntal complexity; a little sparkler.

Less well known is the student work, completed in Eastbourne in 1902, the Valse Intermezzo à cordes, Bridge’s elegant tribute to the waltz nodding towards both the French and Russian schools and performed in style with lilt and grace. Todessehnsucht is Bridge’s affecting, dignified setting of Bach’s Komm, süsser Tod (Come, sweet death) beautifully read by Hickox and, for me, worth the cost of this CD alone. Another miniature I particularly warm to, is Two Intermezzi from Threads. The first, an Andante, begins in sighs and continues in plaintive wistful sweetness with just an occasional brass protestation. In comparison, the second is marked ‘Tempo di Valse – Animato’ - and animated and theatrical it is too, mixing farce and romance with Eric Coates looking in from the wings.

Baritone, Roderick Williams joins the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in three of Bridge’s songs that are performed here for the first time for almost a century. The Hag is a rumbustious setting of Robert Herrick’s poem about a witch on a devilish night ride. Bridge loses no opportunity in letting loose ghouls and spooks from his magic orchestral paint box and Williams adds a persuasive chill to the proceedings. Mournful regret inflects voice and orchestra in ‘I Praise the Tender Flower’, the first of Two Songs of Robert Bridges; the second, the more animated ‘Thou didst delight my eyes’ has gently mocking dotted rhythms and punctuations that comment ironically on the lover’s rather theatrical complaints of love spurned.

The Suite for Strings, at just over 21 minutes, and cast in four movements, is the most substantial work in the programme. Quoting Paul Hindmarsh, it "possesses all those ingredients that (his student) Benjamin Britten so admired in early Bridge: Gallic grace, technical sophistication, a style grateful to listen to and to play." It was composed over Christmas 1909 Here, in every movement, is grace, melody and sophistication of melting beauty: the chirpy Intermezzo enchants, the deeper Nocturne haunts.

A concert that enchants from beginning to end. Strongly recommended.

Ian Lace



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