Frank Bridge: Four Pieces for String Orchestra
In the autumn of 1999, I was invited by John Bishop (1931 – 2000) the administrator of the Royal College of Music’s Frank Bridge Bequest music committee to assemble a suite of pieces as a “home” for an attractive early waltz by Frank Bridge for string orchestra. As I considered some of Bridge’s early piano pieces to be more like sketches for string works than genuine keyboard music, I looked for suitable items from his early music. My choices were determined by a desire  to complement the Valse-Intermezzo in character, to unearth other little known works of similar vintage,  to provide items that could stand alone or be performed as a four movement suite.
1. Prelude: Moderato in E minor [H.29] 3 mins
Bridge composed this lilting little work while on holiday in “Cardigan, September 5, 1903”, and although written out and published in piano score [Volume 20, Frank Bridge Edition, Thames Publishing, 1993], it exhibits features more characteristic of Bridge’s string writing. It is also in E minor, Bridge’s favourite string key.
2. Valse-Intermezzo in E minor [H.17] 6 mins
Completed on 22 August 1902, in Eastbourne, during his summer holiday from the Royal College of Music, this waltz for strings is the most elegant and confident of all Bridge’s student works. The musical idiom, with its expansive melodies reveals how much he had learned from of his favourite French and Russian models. It as been recorded on the Chandos and Naxos labels.
3. Song without words: (Andante) con moto [H.22] 2 mins 30 secs
In April 1903, Bridge composed a miniature 'Schumannesque' salon piece for violin and piano in G major, marked Con Moto and dated 16 April. Bridge’s lyrical theme includes some irregular five bar phrase length – unusual in his early music – and is supported by some piquant chromatic harmonies. In my string version, the first violins take the solo part throughout.
4. Scherzo Phantastick in E minor [H.6] 6 mins
Dated 8 July 1901, this is the earliest of the pieces in this anthology. The string quartet original was composed for informal 'At Home' concerts given in the Students’ Union of the Royal College of Music in London. Bridge was a renowned practical joker, and this witty scherzo and trio was one of a number of musical jokes that he composed for these light-hearted evenings.
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