Bridge: The Sea (CD review)

Also, Enter Spring; Summer; Cherry Ripe; Lament. Sir Charles Groves, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. EMI CDM 7243-5-66855-2.

The English composer, violist, and conductor Frank Bridge (1879-1941) was one of England's principal pastoral composers in the years just preceding and just following World War I. Although Bridge was to become more modernist as time went on, his music nevertheless remained largely harmonic and impressionistic.

Bridge's early tone poems, represented here, are excellent examples of early twentieth-century English pastoral writing. Yes, his work would become increasingly more complex and troubled over the years, yet Bridge wrote these pieces, as we see by their descriptive titles alone, to reflect a serene, natural beauty.

Sir Charles Groves
The Sea, from 1910, is probably his most famous and most-popular work, a composition clearly influenced by Debussy's La Mer of a few years earlier. Likewise, in Summer, Cherry Ripe, and Lament, from 1914-1916, one can hear echoes of contemporary English composers Arnold Bax and Frederick Delius. Enter Spring, from 1927, the latest composition date on the disc, is the most mature work included, not just in its year of completion but in its level of development. It is still pastoral in style and relatively tranquil, but it shows a marked increase in orchestral color, contrast, and elaboration. 

Although I have not heard every recording of these works ever committed to disc, I cannot imagine there being any finer renditions, interpretively or sonically, than these from Sir Charles Groves and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. Sir Charles delivers performances of the utmost care and affection, and the Liverpool players perform them with supreme confidence.

Producer John Willan and balance engineer John Kurlander recorded the music at Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool in July 1975. They provide sound that is full, refined, well balanced, and wholly convincing. It sets off a most-pleasing collection.

JJP

To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click below:


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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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Readers with polite, courteous, helpful letters may send them to pucciojj@gmail.com.

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa