bridge

Late Masterpieces
I’ll be returning in the future to Frank Bridge (1879-1941), an English composer best known today as the teacher of Benjamin Britten. But here’s a starting point. Enter Spring is a dynamic orchestral tone poem lasting just under 20 minutes, which apparently bowled Britten over when he heard the first performance in Norwich, 1927 (he was just 13 at the time).  Enter Spring travels through a wide range of tempos and moods, breaking out to a series of stunning climaxes as spring wakens vigorously after the long sleep of winter. The rhythmic vitality coupled with an underlying seriousness reminds me of late Rachmaninoff, especially the Symphonic Dances. Apparently it was partly inspired by the countryside and chalk cliffs around Beachy Head, specifically Friston in Sussex, where Bridge had a house. I remember going on something of a pilgrimage there years ago. The working title of the piece was On Friston Down. Enter Spring is one of a series of pretty amazing, full-scale late orchestral works that also includes Oration (a cello concerto in all but name) and Phantasm (essentially a piano concerto).

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