Frank Bridge

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Piano Quintet in d minor

Bridge began work on his Piano Quintet in 1904. Originally, it had four movements, but realizing it was overly long, he returned to it in 1912 and fused the inner two movements together to create a three movement work.  The first movement, Allegro, begins with a restless brooding theme which is subsequently followed by a more wistful melody introduced by the piano. Only later is its importance established when it returns at key moments in each of the following movements, creating a cyclical structure. The second movement, Adagio ma non troppo, opens in hushed fashion with a tender melody. What remains of the third movement is now a faster Allegro con brio middle section. In the finale, Allegro energico, themes from the first two movements reappear and struggle for supremacy.

Born in Sussex, Frank Bridge learned to play violin from his father, and had much early exposure to practical musicianship, playing in theatre orchestras his father conducted. He 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 Cherry Ripe, his Three Idylls, the Phantasie for String Quartet and his Miniatures for Piano Trio which contributed to his success.


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