The Slipped Disc daily comfort zone (153): Like a Bridge over choppy waters

Frank Bridge was Benjamin Britten’s teacher, the one who taught him how to compose the sea in Peter Grimes.

How long since we heard his marvellous suite in concert?

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  • Well, if every program is filled with Beethoven you will hear less and less of these wonderful pieces, by “marginal composers”. This is exactly what I have long been complaining about: Yes, Ludwig is great but let’s hear from others too.

  • Why this is not programmed I will never know. So evocative. I have and like the Vernon Handley recording on Chandos, coupled with the Britten.

    • I agree 100%, David.
      I wish Bridge (whom I consider to be one of the truly great 20th c. composers, not merely a great *British* composer) was programmed more often here in the USA.
      Bridge, Finzi, Bax, Delius, Howells – all are (or were, before The Virus struck) WAY underrepresented on American concert programs, both orchestral and chamber.
      (BTW, I think Vernon Handley was perhaps the most underrated of all British conductors.)
      Thank you, Norman, for posting this beautiful recording.

  • I suppose this wonderful expression of the sea was classified at the time by such perverted snobs as the Sitwells as the aqueous equivalent of ‘cowpat’ music.

  • An absolute masterpiece! Surely Bax must have heard this before he wrote ‘Tintagel’? There are many similarities, but more variety of texture in the Bridge work.

  • Over here in the US it’s not often played but Riccardo Muti does it very very well and I’ve heard him conduct it twice in the last 35 years, both performances stunningly played by first the Phillies and more recently by the wonderful CSO. It needs to be championed.

  • Bridge’s “The Sea” is a beautiful composition that is undervalued. But I’m beginning to think that the “gatekeepers” of classical music in programing on the radio, at least, have less power than before.

    That’s because individuals can go to a service like YouTube and listen to what they want to. Also, the pandemic and spread of Internet radio has helped: you don’t have to listen to a moribund station anymore. You can listen to stations on the other end of the world. It helps if you know something about music but if you don’t just go to Youtube, select anything, and let the player go on. You will discover all kinds of pieces you never knew existed.

    Of course, the concerthall is the most resistant to change. And we hear tons of Beethoven; yes, I enjoy him too, but not at the expense of listening to other voices. I’ve also had it with orchestras hiring a new conductor, and “proving” him by having that conductor issue every Beethoven symphony again. There have been too many greats for them to add anything new and worthwhile.

  • Here’s also a shoutout to the late Richard Hickox, the gifted conductor of this orchestra. He was terrific and recorded so many pieces that others did not look at. He reminds me a lot of Gerard Schwarz and Leon Botstein in that sense: extremely thoughtful conductors who looked at conducting the music of undervalued composers.

  • Wondeful, yes, but there’s much greater Bridge than this. I urge all to hear Enter Spring, the Violin Sonata, the 3rd and 4th String Quartets, the 2nd Piano Trio, and of course, Oration. In those works, Bridge became a giant.

  • Will, I’ve heard Bax’s scrumptuous “Tintagel” about King Arthur’s legendary castle a dozen times, I never remember a note of it until I hear again. an unusual problem. Anyone else have it? I know what I must do but hope to avoid dissection.

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