WORKS: Music for cello & piano (complete)
PERFORMER: Penelope Lynex (cello), Alexander Wells (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 229
Frank Bridge’s legacy for the cello ranges from the stirring Oration for cello and orchestra (a concerto in all but name), to the adroitly crafted miniatures with piano heard on this disc. Somewhere in between comes the declamatory, eloquent Cello Sonata, written between 1913 and 1917, and among Bridge’s finest mature chamber works.
Rostropovich and Britten signalled its overdue revival with a 1954 Aldeburgh Festival performance. The best recorded version to date, by American cellist Steven Doane with pianist Barry Snyder comes (fittingly) from US label Bridge. Another musically involving and well-played version on Marco Polo features Rebecca Rust and David Apter, who pair the work with Tovey’s Cello Sonata.
Newcomers Penelope Lynex and Alexander Wells aren’t in the same category. Their performance, woefully lacking in vitality and imagination, and by no means entirely free of technical, ensemble and intonation shortcomings, is neither so well played or recorded as those discussed above. The half-dozen or so miniatures are also dispatched with minimal flair or interest. The disc also includes the Three Pieces for solo piano (published 1912), played by Alexander Wells. In sum, here’s a drab concoction from previously unrecorded artists who might provoke stronger reactions in the recital room, but who clearly lack the force of personality needed to energise this music on disc. Disappointing. Michael Jameson