Three Novelletten for String Quartet
The Novelletten for String Quartet were Frank Bridge's first venture into the realm of chamber music. They date from 1904. The choice of the word Novelletten, first used by Schumann, signifies that these were to be character pieces.
Born in Sussex, Frank Bridge studied violin and composition, the latter from Charles Stanford, at the Royal College of Music. He later played viola in prominent quartets and was a respected conductor. When Frank Bridge’s chamber music first appeared, it was a revelation to amateurs as well as professional players. Interestingly, the revival in interest in Bridge’s music which took place during the last part of the 20th Century has concerned itself exclusively with his more ‘radical’ works, dating from 1924 onwards. Ironically, these works did nothing to create or further enhance the firm reputation he had established with both professionals and amateurs. Rather, it was works just like the Three Novelletten, the Three Idylls, the Phantasie for String Quartet and his Miniatures for Piano Trio which contributed to his success.
Bridge wrote the Novelletten as a kind of preparation for the famous Cobbett Chamber Music Competition which required composers to provide an updated version of the old English Fantasia from the time of Purcell. There was to be only a single movement of around 15 minutes duration embracing a variety of moods, tone colors and tempi while at the same time retaining an inner unity. When Bridge came to write his Phantasy for Quartet the nextyear, it was in one movement, but with three distinct sections or sub-movements. The Novelletten could just as easily have been presented in this fashion. The first, Andante moderato, begins and ends in a tranquil , meditative mood, in between which the music slowly rises to a dramatic climax. The second is a kind of scherzo, consisting of quickly changing sections of different tempi: Presto, Allegretto and Moderato. There is a jazzy, Latin-American tinge to the music. The finale Novellette, Allegro vivo, is characterized by a powerful march-like followed by several canonic sections.
Parts & Score: $31.95