WORKS: Suite for Strings; There is a willow grows aslant a brook
PERFORMER: Britten Sinfonia/Nicholas Cleobury
CATALOGUE NO: 75605 51327 2
A reissue of classic recordings by Charles Groves and newly minted performances from the Britten Sinfonia and Nicholas Cleobury show the tradition of Bridge interpretation, which began with Henry Wood, being handed down the generations.
As the ‘new boy’ in the field, Cleobury comes across as fresh and persuasive. His heart is clearly with the lighter, salon pieces. In the suites from The Two Hunchbacks and Threads, we hear crafted theatre music that opens windows in our knowledge of the composer. Canzonetta, Berceuse and Serenade, lollipops to rival Elgar’s most famous palm-court scores, are delightful, yet also suggest hidden currents. The performance and lovingly captured sound of the Suite for Strings are especially fine.
The shadow falls only once: in the Hamlet-based tone poem There is a willow grows aslant a brook. Likewise, in the Groves collection, the troubled Lament, a threnody for those drowned on the Lusitania, is the spectre at this splendidly outdoor feast. Many first encounters with Bridge will have been through this recording of The Sea; it’s good to have it digitally remastered. The tone poem Summer and rhapsody Enter Spring sound like the essential, clear-sighted Bridge, with the RLPO at its peak. Nicholas Williams