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The Morning Song of April 1918 is the only work on the CD later than the sonata and is indeed the last of his pieces for cello and piano apart from the Pneu World fragment, a parody on the start of the Star-Spangled Banner, which could well become a hit throughout the Middle East but gets no airing here. The Scherzo on the disc belongs to 1920 only by courtesy of a misprint; its rightful place is 1902. It has the distinction, though, of having been conceived for cello, unlike the majority of the other pieces, which might be for piano, for violin, or indeed have been orchestrated. A few bars can easily settle its date [listen -- track 4, 0:28-1:32]. The Berceuse of 1901 is the earliest work on the disc and comes from the publisher in the greatest variety of guises; it was originally for violin or cello with piano, then violin and strings; after the war it appeared for small orchestra, for solo piano, and in an arrangement by Hubert Bath for full orchestra. Such different versions by no means imply indecisiveness on Bridge's part; rather a wish of publisher and composer for maximum returns before gramophone recording of so attractive a piece was both commercially viable and inevitable [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:09]. In the absence of Pneu World, there are three piano pieces from 1912, music as ingratiating and inconsequential as could be wished. 'Columbine' is a delicate waltz of great charm [listen -- track 8, 0:00-1:07].

Penelope Lynex is a cellist of formidable gifts. There is sometimes an austerity in the tone that looks rather to the post-war Bridge, as if she regrets he took so long to find a really individual voice. The sequence of beautifully turned salon pieces almost seems to try her patience, ambitious as she is for something bigger and more testing. It is good that the sonata is central to the recital, as there she can display her enviable sense of line and take up the challenge of a second movement that does indeed foreshadow the best of Bridge. Alexander Wells is a sympathetic partner in the slighter works, and measures up magnificently to the considerable demands of the sonata. It is again a happy piece of programming that places the delicate keyboard miniatures immediately after the sonata. This Somm CD can only whet our appetite for the weightier Bridge.

Copyright © 1 May 2002 Robert Anderson, London, UK



Frank Bridge: The Complete Music for Cello and Piano

SOMMCD 229 DDD Stereo 72'19" 2001 Somm Recordings

Penelope Lynex, cello and Alexander Wells, piano
Morning Song (1918); Elégie (1904); Berceuse (1901); Scherzo (1902); Serenade (1903); Sonata for Cello and Piano (1913-17); Three Pieces (1912) (piano solo); Mazurka (1903); Meditation (1912); Mélodie (1911); Spring Song (1912); Cradle Song (1910)




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