Bridge: Phantasie Piano Quartet; Phantasie Piano Trio; Scherzo for cello & piano; Souvenir for violin & piano; Three Songs with viola

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Bridge
LABELS: Dutton
ALBUM TITLE: Bridge
WORKS: Phantasie Piano Quartet; Phantasie Piano Trio; Scherzo for cello & piano; Souvenir for violin & piano; Three Songs with viola
PERFORMER: Ivan Ludlow (baritone); London Bridge Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CDLX 7205

Advertisement

‘Sometimes’, as Winnie the Pooh observed sagely, ‘it just doesn’t.’ Here are some more than accomplished musicians, presenting a nicely balanced collection of Frank Bridge’s early songs and chamber pieces, on which they’ve clearly worked diligently and sympathetically. It ought to be at least pleasurable – hopefully more. Bridge’s exploratory nature emerges even when he’s in his Edwardian ‘faded violets’ mode, and he can be so beautiful that he transcends period flavour even at this stage of his career. Yet these performances just don’t draw the ear in. The temple is prepared diligently, but the spirit fails to take up residence. Take a few bars at random and it will sound expressive enough; let it run on and the mind wanders. This is particularly problematic in the songs. Ivan Ludlow has a pleasing English baritone voice; he phrases musically and enunciates clearly. But there’s too little variety in the expression – particularly when it comes to vibrato. The songs end up sounding very samey. The words don’t tell, however clearly they’re projected. I don’t think one can blame the quality of the recording: the various forces are well balanced, and the perspective is intimate without being anywhere near claustrophobic. Strange. Stephen Johnson