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The complete music for cello and piano
of Frank Bridge -
whetting the appetite of

'Penelope Lynex is a cellist of formidable gifts.'

Frank Bridge - The Complete Music for Cello and Piano. © 2001 SOMM Recordings


As a tiro cellist I was early introduced to Frank Bridge, making a family trio for the three sets of Miniatures and graduating, after much suffering in many directions, to the C minor Phantasy. It was a long time, however, before I realised that his music had undergone an extraordinary sea-change (apt word for a Brighton man who died in Eastbourne) in the years after the First World War. A warmly lyrical idiom gave place to a gritty astringency that must have been very disturbing to erstwhile admirers. A pacifist, Bridge had hated the carnage, and the Cello Sonata is so dated by Bridge (1913-17) that most of it fell within the war. Felix Salmond, who was to give the première of the Elgar Concerto, first performed it on 13 July 1917. The dichotomy in Bridge's composing career can be illustrated from the two movements of the Sonata. The start of the Allegro ben moderato is a glorious outpouring calculated, one would suspect, to launch an altogether unproblematic work [listen -- track 6, 0:00-1:10]. The Adagio ma non troppo gives some hint of the agony he endured as the weary months of combat yielded their slaughter. The cellist Antonia Butler recalled the background: 'when he was writing the slow movement, he was in utter despair over the futility of war and the state of the world generally and would walk round Kensington in the early hours of the morning unable to get any rest or sleep -- and that the idea of the slow movement really came into being at that time' [listen -- track 7, 1:48-2:58].

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Copyright © 1 May 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK




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