The Bridge Quartet

The performances are superb, the recording vivid and beautifully balanced. The presentation is ideal and if in any way you like English music then this disc is a must. Even if you don't this disc is a must. In fact you have little choice: buy it, please.
NORMAN O'NEILL CHAMBER MUSIC EM005 Music Web International Gary Higginson

Concert and CD Reviews

 

 

CD Reviews

MODUS MUSIC HERECLEITUS REVIEW
Derek Foster Summer 2017

"This excellent CD"
"The Bridge Quartet bring their own mellow sound to this and all the works on the CD, pointing up the emotions to great effect."

"Charles Daniels' voice is cultured and very 'English'- sounding. He brings a wide range of expression and conveys the various moods of the songs admirably. Michael Dussek's accompaniments are consistently exemplary."

"The Bridge Quartet's advocacy of it (Butterworth suite) is another reason to get this CD."

"'On the way to Kew' is a pure delight and brought off perfectly by the performers"

Re Gurney Adagio "the Bridge Quartet playing it with a rich elegiac tone"

 

COLIN TWIGG: CHAMBER MUSIC

"...The first disc devoted to his music features five chamber works written over a 13-year span, the earliest being a String Trio (1996) whose modest length and undemonstrative idiom (that of the classical chamber tradition from Haydn to Bartók) do not belie Twigg’s mastery of this exacting medium or his questing approach to formal continuity across and between movements...Phantasy Variations on a Theme of Haydn (2009) is a resourceful take on this quintessentially English form, putting its indelible theme through a logical and satisfying process of developing variation. Performances, recording and Twigg’s booklet notes are all exemplary, making for a worthwhile addition to Toccata Classics’ enterprising catalogue."

 

Richard Whitehouse

 Gramophone August 2017

 

"I've found this CD album very rewarding, enabling me to explore some uncharted by-ways. The music is both accessible and deftly crafted, and the recording boasts warm, radiant sound. The composer has provided his own annotations, which not only offer a background portrait of himself, but also a detailed description of the music on offer. I have nothing but praise for this delightful release."

Stephen Geenbank
Music Web International June 2017

 

HERACLEITUS - Review highlights

 

Music Web International 

...(Gurney's) Adagio movement, a touchingly beautiful, uneasy and intense piece, here given a lovely and poignant world premiere performance.

Butterworth "Fill a glass with golden wine" and "On the way to Kew" (both based on poems by W. E. Henley) here have string quartet accompaniment. These are lovely performances... Robert Stevenson

 

Amazon -  Customer 5* review.

...The final two songs from the cycle "Love Blows as the Wind Blows" - W.E. Henley settings with string quartet accompaniment - are also included. Fill a glass with golden wine' is particularly exquisite, with an intimacy especially enhanced by the quartet version...

 

Music and Vision -CD Spotlight

Zealously and vigorously interpreted, the programme embraces all that is best of English song-writing in the initial phases of the twentieth century, and a shower of praises must certainly go to tenor Charles Daniels too for his erudite annotations on the pieces recorded here. An exciting addition to a repertoire that is still sprouting gems from its inexhaustible treasure-trove.   Gerald Fenech

 

Gramophone Magazine - February 2017

...Butterworth's Suite for String Quartet is the real thing. The Bridge Quartet's unaffected playing and oaky, wide-grained  tone  fits it beautifully...    ...the Bridges unfold Gurney's rather discursive "Adagio" with quiet tenderness; it is hard to believe that neither of these pieces has been recorded in its original form until now.   Richard Bratby

 

 

 

Fanfare magazine jan/feb 2014

Parry chamber music EM016

The Bridge Quartet's players - joined by violist Robert Gibbs in the Quintet - are, as can always be counted on, exemplary in technical address and masters of musicality. They are also serious artists dedicated to promoting the works of their native English composers, of which this brand new release is but another example. For bringing to light these neglected chamber works by Hubert Parry, I, for one, express my gratitude to Colin Twigg, Catherine Schofield, Michael Schofield, Lucy Wilding, and Robert Gibbs. The Quintet, in particular, deserves to become a standard repertoire item.   Jerry Dubins

 

Jaques Ibert Chamber Music (SommCD 0122)

Review at BBC Music Magazine April 2014

"Suave Gallic chamber music beautifully played"

 

Fanfare magazine jan/feb 2014

The Sonatina Jeux dates from 1923, much earlier in Ibert's career. It was originally composed for flute and piano, but with the violin specified as an alternative. Its two brief movements, marked Animé and Tendre, are delightfully Ravelian. The performance by pianist Michael Dussek and the Bridge Quartet's violinist , Colin Twigg ,.is accomplished and sensitive, fully realizing the charm of the piece....Ibert was unquestionably a composer of significance, and this disc offers a substantial sampling of his chamber music, ably performed and well recorded Daniel Morrison

Bryn Lewis, principal harp with the London Symphony Orchestra, seems to relish his part in Ibert's trio, and plays it as ravishingly as I can imagine it being played. I'm sure that Caprilena poses quite a technical challenge, which Colin Twigg consummately conquers...This CD brought me over an hour's worth of unalloyed listening pleasure, and for those familiar with Ibert only from two or three of his better-known orchestral works, a voyage of joyous discovery awaits you in this collection of his chamber music compositions. The Bridge Quartet and its individual members, plus Michael Dussek, piano, Bryn Lewis, harp, Richard Alsop, double bass, and Somm's excellent recording, make this a must-have release. Jerry Dubins

Bridge's early infatuation with Faure is evident in the lush Piano Quintet, a work bound with cyclic themes and brimming with passion (and occasionally sentimentalism). The string players are joined by pianist Michael Dussek in a bold, sumptuous reading. The Novelletten is also a product of his early years, but the romanticism here is of a more innocent variety, and lends the music a pastoral air popular among Brits of this era in particular. The foursome seems particularly at home here, and they wisely don't attempt to inject profundity into a work that clearly has no such aspirations. Likewise their readings of Cherry Ripe and Sir Roger de Coverley are pleasant and idiomatic. Michael Cameron

 

 

Norman O'Neill Chamber works

Review at www.musicweb-international.com

Gary Higginson

"The performances are superb, the recording vivid and beautifully balanced. The presentation is ideal and if in any way you like English music then this disc is a must. Even if you don't this disc is a must. In fact you have little choice: buy it, please."

 

Fanfare magazine jan/feb 2014

O'Neill's Piano Quintet may not be of quite the rank as Tchaikovsky's A-Minor Piano Trio, but it's definitely passionate and emotive in a generically sort of Russian way. That aside, whatever the source of O'Neill's inspiration may have been when he wrote the piece, it's a major discovery, a magnificent specimen of the genre, and a significant addition to the literature. To my ear, there's as much Brahms in the score as there is any Russian composer. In fact, the coda to the first movement bears a striking resemblance to the wild Scherzo from Brahms's Piano Quintet in F Minor.

 

Performances by London's Bridge Quartet, for over 20 years ambassadors for English music, are ravishing; and pianist Michael Dussek, who has his work cut out for him in all but the String Quartet, is nothing short of amazing. In composing his piano parts for Adine, O'Neill knew he was writing for a highly accomplished artist with no technical limitations. Accordingly, he wrote for the piano as he would have for the most skilled virtuoso, and Dussek rises to every challenge, especially in the very difficult-sounding Quintet.

Here then is a collection of never-before-recorded works by a virtually forgotten British composer given in brilliant performances and superior recorded sound. Urgently recommended. Jerry Dubins

It has recently been discovered that during the first decade of the 20th century O'Neill composed a number of utterly fluent and disarming chamber pieces, highlighted on his disc. Although the three movements of the opening String Quartet in C were written over several years, their ardent lyricism, limpid textures, natural flow, and total integration, both formal and stylistic, will appeal to anyone who responds to the early works of Frank Bridge and Herbert Howells. The later Piano Trio of 1909 is a compact nine-minute single movement fraught with an astonishing range of argument and diversity of moods. The nearly half-hour Piano Quintet of 1903 is certainly the most ambitious work, and the centerpiece of this program, and, in spite of its echoes of Slavic predecessors like Rachmaninoff and Arensky, O'Neill's fundamentally English pastoralism and idyllic impulses prevail.

The performances here are as dedicated and idiomatic as one would expect from such committed musicians and the close and clear recording is exceptional. In closing, this writer would like to suggest three other neglected names EM Records might like to consider for future investigation: William Henry Reed (1876 - 1942), Alec Rowley (1882 - 1958), and John Greenwood (1889 - 1975). Meanwhile, all lovers of English late-romantic chamber music should not hesitate to obtain this disk. Paul A. Snook

 

 

 

Bridge Chamber Music

Strad, September 2009

"This is an outstanding recital of Bridge chamber works ….. It is a sign of the sheer quality of the Bridge Quartet's playing that even in the composer's more idiomatically remote passages, the music comes surging off the page. Ripely expressive, yet always sensitive to Bridge's textural inventiveness, this fine ensemble sounds utterly transported by these rarefied sounds."

 

BBC Music Magazine, September 2009 *****

A superb anthology of Frank Bridge's chamber music…… a spellbinding account of the Rhapsody Trio for 2 violins and viola…the 1904 Noveletten for string quartet receives a wonderfully sensitive performance here especially in the chiaroschuro of the brooding first movement. The two miniatures Cherry Ripe and Sir Roger de Coverley are delightfully done.”

 

International Record Review, September 2009

Spiritedly partnered by Michael Dussek, the Bridge are as assured here  (in the scherzo) as in the expansive first movement and the impetuous finale..the poise and insight of these performers cannot be gainsaid. …The finest account yet of the Rhapsody Trio….rarefied and plangent by turns, the present performance can be expected to serve as the benchmark for some time to come …… the Bridge's excellent series should extend to at least one more disc.

 

Alwyn Chamber Music and Songs

Gramophone October 2007
Andrew Achenbach

Naxos continues to champion Alwyn and now turns its attention to the chamber and vocal music. The ravishing Three Winter Poems for String Quartet date from early in 1948.

Performances throughout reflect great credit on all concerned in their scrupulous preparation and unquenchable conviction.

 

The Sunday Observer 1 July 2007
Anthony Holden

... these dozen chamber works and songs, five of them previously unrecorded, lovingly performed by accomplished British artists ... show a tender, whimsical side to a composer too swiftly forgotten

 

Financial Times July 2007
Andrew Clark

Of the rest, the best is to be found in the atmospheric Three Winter Poems for String Quartet.

 

The Times 29 June 2007

Seventy minutes of intimate undeservedly neglected British music by the excellent Alwyn ... the 1948 Winter Poems superbly conjure atmosphere ... very worthwhile

 

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Bridge: String Quartets Nos 1 & 4

BBC Music Magazine, July 1998
Ian Lace

This new CD follows the Bridge Quartet's acclaimed recording of Frank Bridge's Second and Third Quartets.

The Bridge Quartet traces the often delicate, filigree, intertwining figures with sensitivity and aplomb - [they are] totally dedicated to this music, interpret with impressive insight and conviction.

You can find details of the CD and how to order a copy here.

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Bridge: String Quartets Nos 2 & 3

Penguin CD Guide, 2001

The two quartets are superbly played by this eponymous group, who are right inside the music and present it with an almost improvisational spontaneity. The recording is first class, with fine body to the sound as well as a convincing interplay of detail.

You can find details of the CD and how to order a copy here.

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Free Spirits - Delius, Grieg and Grainger

International Record Review, June 2001
Robert Matthew-Walker

[The Bridge Quartet] give here arguably the finest account of Grieg's G minor Quartet since the 1937 Budapest version, and certainly the most idiomatic of all modern recordings. This is noble playing, admirably recorded.

 

The Strad, May 2001
Julian Haycock

[This] is music that above all needs to be 'sung', to be exulted in - and this is where the Bridge Quartet really comes into its own. The group affectionately cocoons this music, enabling its lyrical impulse to emerge with as about as much warmth as it can take.

No less enchanting are the final two movements ... of an earlier quartet, discovered in the British Library by the Bridge Quartet's violist Michael Schofield.

If I have dwelled on the Bridge Quartet's outstanding Delius performances, this is not to imply that its playing in the Grieg is anything less than highly distinguished, even in the face of celebrated performances by the Budapest and Oslo quartets. Velvety sonics and excellent booklet notes round off an outstanding release.

You can find details of the CD and how to order a copy here.

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Concert Reviews

 

May 1st Concert 2010 St John's Smith Square

The Classical Source

Britten's String Quartet No.1 is a very strong work, brilliantly laid out for the instruments, full of good tunes, not afraid to smile and display a sense of fun – the second movement march is especially comical – but still having time to see into space, the ethereal harmonics which fill the first movement. The Bridge Quartet realised every nuance to perfection...Vaughan Williams's song-cycle...was a true chamber performance by six equals who worked together with the utmost subtlety and a superb sense of ensemble... this concert was a treat from beginning to end.

 

Ely Cathedral April 2011

Rosemary Westwell

Review of the Bridge String Quartet playing The Seven Last Words from the Cross in The Lady Chapel Ely Cathedral on Friday 22nd April 2011

Good Friday (April 22nd) in the Lady Chapel, Ely Cathedral featured a most appropriate concert performed by a first-class string quartet: the Bridge String Quartet. Colin Twigg (violin), Catherine Schofield (violin), Michael Schofield (viola) and Lucy Wilding (‘cello) synchronized perfectly in their performance of The Seven Last Words from the Cross by Josef Haydn. This particular part of the Cathedral is renowned for its echoing acoustics yet these musicians created an awe-inspiring texture of clear, firm, warm harmonies and sequences that centred perfectly on the core of the notes. These performers knew what they were doing and throughout the concert they balanced perfectly, their wonderful control allowing key melodic phrases to rise magnificently over a web of subtle differences and changes of expression.

This work was in seven movements. After an affirmative introduction, each movement was preceded by a reading of meditations by Canon David Pritchard and these texts formed the inspiration for the following movements. Haydn himself had commented how difficult it was to compose so many consecutive slow movements without ‘fatiguing' the audience but these instrumentalists managed to create enough variety to hold the interest with their phenomenal technique as they eased every nuance of expression from the score.

Even soft, repeated notes were given new life in Father, forgive them … The next movement, Today thou shalt be with me in Paradise contained an uplifting pizzicato section in which plucked strings added lightness after the lyrical melancholic melodic material of the violin. Woman, behold they son … featured an especially warm texture with full contributions from all members of the quartet. This was followed by the music of My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? which almost sang the words of the text especially in the opening poignant ‘cry'. Pizzicato again brought a change of colour in I thirst. The successive short notes pictured droplets of water which soon developed to reflect the feelings of anxiety the text inspired. Long sweeping unison notes embraced the finality of It is finished while in Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit the instruments almost breathed a sensation of resignation before breaking out into the shocking drama of The earthquake.

The concert was very well supported and was a most fitting introduction to Easter.

Contacts: www.bridgequartet.com; info@bridgequartet.com; www.elycathedral.org

Rosemary Westwell
EEA

 

 

 

Wigmore Hall - 20 December 2003

The Classical Source, Richard Whitehouse

Having, naturally enough, put Frank Bridge at the centre of its repertoire over a 14-year career, it made sense for the Bridge Quartet to include a work by the composer for this return to the Wigmore Hall. A rediscovery too, as Bridge's ‘String Quintett' (note the deliberately archaic spelling) seems not to have been revived since its premiere at the Royal College of Music on 4th December 1901!

As effectively a graduation exercise, one can understand why the 22-year-old composer chose not to press its claims the more so given the stream of chamber works that Bridge composed over the next decade. That said, the Quintet impresses both through its technical finish and in the formal ingenuity worked into an outwardly conventional four-movement structure; in which respect, the descending unison phrase which opens the work and returns throughout as a ‘motto' theme can be said to foreshadow the ‘phantasie'-form of many of Bridge's subsequent works.

There are some striking incidental touches: the eloquent transition to the reprise in the opening Allegro; the rapt mood sustained at the close of the Andante; the already characteristic grotesquerie in the Presto's trio section; and the succinct tying up of thematic loose ends in the finale's affirmative coda.

The quintet was given a confident and well-prepared performance by the Bridge Quartet and Ivo-Jan van der Werff, his second viola part melding into the texture in a way akin to the late chamber music of Dvorak in whose ‘American' String Quintet (not to be confused with the famous ‘American' String Quartet!) Bridge had himself taken second viola early in 1901 rather than the densely contrapuntal manner more usual with Brahms.

One hopes that both it and the even earlier B flat Quartet will feature on a follow-up disc to the Bridge's often excellent cycle of Bridge's numbered quartets.

The gallic element evident in Bridge's music from the outset has often been remarked upon and, even though the quintet pre-dates Ravel's quartet by almost two years, the pairing worked well here.

Moreover, the performance, though not without its interpretative rough edges, was an impressive one unusually strong and decisive in the first movement, and with an almost angular gait in the famous Scherzo. Marginally too restive in mood, the slow movement brought excellent ensemble playing, with the vigorous finale seeming less of an ‘added on' formal solution than is often the case.

In the context of his chamber output as a whole, Brahms's quartets rarely receive a positive press. Less motivically obsessive than its C minor companion, while more coherent overall than its B flat successor, the A minor conceals a Schubertian pathos beneath its technical finish, with the relation in performance between them determining the effectiveness of the interpretation. The Bridge Quartet found an attractive wistfulness in the opening two movements, such that Schubert's own A minor quartet was never far away, and if the ‘quasi menuetto' third movement lacked a degree of subtlety in the unfolding of its harmonic rhythm, the stamping rhythmic drive of the finale was tellingly sustained.

A performance, then, which brought out the humanity in Brahms's music, and how apposite that the finale of Haydn's ‘Bird' quartet (Op.33/3) should follow as an encore rounding off an excellent evening's music-making.

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Paying Homage to Bridge and Other Brits

Evening Standard, Monday 22 December 2003
Barry Millington

For too long remembered by many as the teacher of Benjamin Britten, Frank Bridge has, of late, been gaining increasing recognition as a major composer in his own right. More and more of his pieces are finding their way onto the concert platform and onto disc, and the String Quintet in E minor is the latest to be resurrected.

This early work of Bridge's,written in 1901, while he was still a student at the Royal College of Music, may not have the searching profundity of his later music composed after the traumas of the First World War, but it does have a stylistic command and originality of conception that mark out this budding composer as exceptional.

Not by accident, the name of the ensemble playing the Quintet on Saturday night was the Bridge String Quartet (joined by violist Ivo-Jan ban der Werff), who have championed the music of Bridge and other British composers for some 14 years.

Since the Bridge Quintet recalls Faure or Ravel as much as the Brahms/Stanford school to which the young composer was exposed at college, it was a happy idea to include the Ravel quartet (which Bridge was soon to play as violist with the English String Quartet). The ensemble was impressively integrated here, violist Michael Schofield interweaving mettlesome short-note figuration over cellist Lucy Wilding's firm foundation, with Mitchell and Catherine Schofield projecting strongly form the top.

The somewhat inhibited emotional expression of Brahms's String Quartet in A minor, Op51 No2, is difficult to bring off, but these players had its measure,striking the vein of troubled lyricism that runs through this intimate and brooding work.

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Wigmore Hall - 7 April 1999

Sunday Telegraph, April 1999
Michael Kennedy

It is an impressive work [Bridge Quartet No.3] ... one respects and admires it, but does one love it? I can tell you that the superb Bridge quartet played it as if they do, just as they played Delius.

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Purcell Room - 7 April 1997

Musical Opinion, Summer 1997

One thing became clear during the course of the evening of 7th April, in the Purcell Room, and that is that the Bridge Quartet have a wonderful sense of musical expression, which is entirely at one with each other ... Bridge's Fourth Quartet was both vital and vivacious ... The players' awareness of and empathy with each other was apparent in the way motifs were passed effortlessly between them.

Bridge's First String Quartet was for me the focal point of the evening. The players were relaxed and yet one felt the electric pulse of the music pervading the hall.

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King's Lynn Festival - Summer 1996


The world of string quartets is a competitive one, with many fine ensembles in this country, but the Bridge are in the major league on the evidence of this mid-morning event.
The opening of one of the best-loved and most expansive of the Schubert quartets, that in D minor - Death and the Maiden - bore the listeners, a practically full house, away in its intensity.
The variations of the slow movement were full of life and imagination, the second with pizzicato cello having the melody, as particularly effective.

After an ever-so-stately Scherzo, taut rhythms took the finale forward in strength and subtleties while taking advantage of the Schubertian twists, and remaining totally balanced and integrated.

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Purcell Room - 5 June 1995

The Strad, November 1995

A crowd impressively large for a midweek event amassed for the Bridge Quartet's concert (5 June) and were rewarded with a dynamic performance. One particularly striking feature was a finely crafted balance of the ensemble.

The Bridge Quartet played with precision and great expressive flair.

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Conway Hall - 1994

Musical Opinion, 1994

The Bridge Quartet's superbly characterful account of Nielsen's Third Quartet, developmental and complex, was a breath of fresh air. Beethoven's Quartet Op. 127 was projected with compelling drama, especially the clearly underlined development of the first movement and the delicate imitations of the second.

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