WORKS: Chamber Concerto for Piano & Strings (arr. Orbelian); Four Pieces for string orchestra (arr. Paul Hindmarsh); Three Idylls (arr. Lucas Drew)
PERFORMER: Carol Rosenberger (piano); Moscow CO/Constantine Orbelian
CATALOGUE NO: DE 3263
It remains a cruel fact that Frank Bridge is still best known as the teacher of Benjamin Britten, and the composer of the theme on which Britten based one of the 20th century’s greatest compositions for string orchestra, the Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge. Cruel because Bridge is so obviously a highly individual voice in British music. But gradually Bridge is gaining the recognition he deserves, and here as proof is a disc from an American company by a Russian orchestra of some of Bridge’s own string music. Admittedly none of these works was originally written for string orchestra, but such is the skill of the various arrangements that they might well have been. And not all the music is on the level of invention of the so-called Chamber Concerto. This is an arrangement of Bridge’s early Piano Quintet, a powerful, searching work that gains in tensile strength from being played by a larger body of strings, particularly in this full-blooded, sinewy performance. No prissy Englishness here.
The rest of the programme is made up of youthful works, the Four Pieces a charming and highly skilful arrangement by that Bridge champion Paul Hindmarsh of juvenilia, and the Three Idylls, the middle one of which provided Britten with that memorable theme. Spirited performances, not always immaculately in tune; bright but slightly restricted recording. Explore and enjoy. Adam Gatehouse