Bridge: Phantasy Piano Quartet; Cello Sonata

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Frank Bridge
LABELS: Hyperion
ALBUM TITLE: Bridge: Phantasy Piano Quartet; Cello Sonata
WORKS: Bridge: Phantasy Piano Quartet in F sharp minor; Cello Sonata; An Irish Melody; The Londonderry Air; Cherry Ripe; Sally in Our Ally; Sir Roger de Coverly; Violin Sonata
PERFORMER: The Nash Ensemble


Frank Bridge’s chamber music is more often recorded now than ten years ago, and there are several excellent competing versions for the Cello Sonata, the Phantasy Piano Quintet and the charming string quartet pieces on traditional tunes.

What this beautifully played and thoughtfully programmed disc has going for it are, first, that it presents these works in a chronological survey of Bridge’s chamber output, from early to late; and second, that it includes the superb Violin Sonata of 1932, for which rival versions are still few and far between. Taut and troubled, but beautifully written for the two instruments, this is an example of Bridge’s high maturity, chromatically expanded in tonality and simultaneously dense and subtle in its motivic working.

Marianne Thorsen’s interpretation with Ian Brown seems to me absolutely exemplary. The stylistic distance between this work and, say, Cherry Ripe from the quartet pieces shows the breadth of Bridge’s idioms and the stylistic distance he travelled in his career. Brown (a commanding soloist in the Piano Quintet of 1910) is joined by Paul Watkins for one of the most lyrical readings I have heard of the 1917 Cello Sonata, but one that I found rather lacking in the tensions that underlie this subtle transitional work. Altogether, a valuable addition to the ever-growing Frank Bridge discography.


Calum MacDonald