String Quartet No.1 in e minor
Bridge's First String Quartet was composed in 1906 for a competition held by the Accademia Filarmonica Bolognia. Though it did not win, it was the only other work singled out and received a Mention d'honneur. By the time he came to write the work, he had already composed several compositions for string quartet, including his Phantasy Quartet as well as his Novellettes and Idylls. To meet the deadline he dashed off the whole work in a matter of weeks though it is impossible to tell this from hearing it.
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.
The first movement begins with a brief Adagio introduction before the main part, a passionate Allegro, based on a chromatic scale which helped to produce what were for the time unusual harmonies. The second movement is a heart-felt Adagio molto with great depth of expression. This followed by an affable, winsome scherzo, marked Allegretto grazioso. The main theme from the first movement makes an appearance here and also in the wide-ranging and dramatic finale, Allegro agitato.
Without doubt a first class work which deserves performance in the concert hall. Experienced amateurs will also find much to delight them.