Frank Bridge's style is highly appealing, and this disc includes a wide range of compositions, including the much admired and powerful Oration for cello and orchestra. It is also the first time that Bridge's Overture Rebus has been available on CD.
Bridge composed Lament for string orchestra in 1915 in memory of a young friend who, with her family, drowned when the Lusitania was sunk. It is one of his most effective miniatures, poignant yet restrained in its lyrical beauty, with a compelling directness of expression and simplicity of construction.
In the spring of 1916 Bridge drafted a more extended, though equally poignant war work. This was his plea for peace, a setting of 'A Prayer' by the fourteenth-century German mystic Thomas à Kempis. It was Bridge's only work for chorus and orchestra and he cast it in a simple verse form.
All Bridge's convictions and emotions about the First World War were enshrined in the Oration for Solo Cello and Orchestra, which was completed in 1930, nearly twelve years after the Armistice. Bridge apparently changed the title from Concerto elegiaco to Oration because he wanted to make clear that it was an outcry against the futility of war.
'Rebus', according to its dictionary definition, is a sort of graphic riddle. The overture of that name was a comment on the Second World War and the title suggests that the. work is trying to convey, in musical terms, the way in which ideas, thoughts and images can become progressively distorted and their meaning transformed from innocent to macabre.
The Allegro moderato for strings was Bridge’s last work, and he died before he could finish it.
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