Bridge: Phantasie Piano Trio in C minor; Piano Trio No. 2; Phantasy Piano Quartet in F sharp minor

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COMPOSERS: Bridge
LABELS: Hyperion Helios
WORKS: Phantasie Piano Trio in C minor; Piano Trio No. 2; Phantasy Piano Quartet in F sharp minor
PERFORMER: Dartington Piano Trio
CATALOGUE NO: CDH 55063 Reissue (1987)
Frank Bridge may well be the finest British composer of chamber music to have appeared in the first half of the 20th century. Why was he neglected for so long? The very quality of his craftsmanship may have counted against him – the old English social snobbery against ‘professionalism’ (even Bridge’s pupil Benjamin Britten suffered from that). But Bridge isn’t one of nature’s extroverts – there’s nothing of Sir John Falstaff here. Throughout his career, Bridge’s tendency was to look inwards, to explore shadowy worlds. The three works recorded here range from the contained, melancholic Romanticism of the Phantasie Trio and Phantasy Quartet, to the Second Piano Trio – strongly influenced by continental modernism (at times it sounds like a gentler Berg or a more diffident Scriabin), but as personal as anything in the two earlier works. The performances catch the subtly shifting moods as effectively as any currently on record, and the recordings sound as atmospheric and sensitively balanced as when they first appeared, 13 years ago. A very worthwhile reissue. Stephen Johnson

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