Bridge: Piano Sonata; The Hour Glass; Vignettes de Marseille; Three Skhes; Capriccio No. 1; Capriccio No. 2

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COMPOSERS: Bridge
LABELS: Somm
ALBUM TITLE: Benchmark Bridge
WORKS: Piano Sonata; The Hour Glass; Vignettes de Marseille; Three Skhes; Capriccio No. 1; Capriccio No. 2
PERFORMER: Mark Bebbington (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: SOMMCD 056
Just months after Naxos’s release

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of Volume 1 of Ashley Wass’s

complete piano music of Frank

Bridge (reviewed in June), here is

Mark Bebbington’s from Somm.

Although his first volume has just

one work in common with Wass’s

– the 1919-20 suite The Hour

Glass – I get the strong impression

that Bebbington’s set will perhaps

be the one to have. Adept and

sympathetic Bridgean though Wass

is, Bebbington seems consistently

to probe deeper into the music’s

expressive core. Greater fluidity

of tempo, subtler pedalling and

phrasing, a wider range of colour

and dynamics all characterise

Bebbington’s approach, giving us a

darker but also more innately poetic

Bridge – more of a virtuoso, too:

Bebbington throws off the two early

Capriccios (1905) as if they were

Rachmaninov, and brings a fine

sense of Francophile flamboyance

to the rarely-heard Vignettes de

Marseille (1925).

The main work here is the grim

and haunted Sonata (1921-24),

Bridge’s painful and profound

response to the Great War. This is

an epic performance, making the

most of the work’s mingled violence

and crepuscular moods. Bebbington

seems more flexible and mercurial in

his approach than does Peter Jacobs

on Volume 3 of his complete Bridge piano music (Continuum), and he

is aided by a recording of superior

range and resonance. Kathryn Stott’s

version for Conifer is no longer

available, and as a result I would say

this is by a short head the benchmark

performance of this superb work.

Certainly a promising start to what

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is likely to be an absorbing series.