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See latest reviews of other albums..., November 2016

This latest bargain-priced album from Naxos features a fine performance by the excellent New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Judd. …Highly recommended. © 2016 Read complete review

John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, April 2013

This Naxos disc brings together three of the composer’s best-known tone poems, The Sea, Enter Spring, and Summer, and it adds a couple of brief Poems for Orchestra, based on short poems by Richard Jeffries, for good measure.

While all of the music is delightful, the highlight of the disc is The Sea

Maestro James Judd presents each of the pieces fluidly and meaningfully, never stopping to linger too long for sentimental reasons yet never relegating the music to the tired-warhorse bin, either. It’s a nice, forthright approach that captures most of the beauty and charm of Bridge’s work.

…a person can’t go wrong with the Naxos disc. It’s beautiful music, and it’s beautiful sound. © 2013 Classical Candor Read complete review

David Hurwitz, September 2004

This fine disc makes a superb introduction to Frank Bridge’s orchestral music. The performance of Enter Spring has greater clarity and rhythmic spring than Richard Hickox’s recent Chandos version, and in The Sea, James Judd offers the most exciting finale on CD. In the first movement, though, Charles Groves’ interpretation (EMI) remains the most focused and shapely of phrase. The two shorter works, the impressionistic Summer and the charming Two Poems, have plenty of atmosphere and spirit. The New Zealand Symphony’s lean sonority suits the music well—Bridge never was much given to Romantic fuzziness—and Naxos provides clean, impactful sonics. If I don’t have much else to say it’s because there’s no need to. This is simply well conducted, well played, and well recorded, and an excellent bargain.

Calum MacDonald
BBC Music Magazine, September 2004

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Matthew Rye
The Daily Telegraph (Australia), August 2004

“[A] bargain introduction to Bridge’s music.”

Gramophone, August 2004

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Music Week, July 2004

“Billed as Naxos’s July disc of the month, this album of orchestral tone poems by Frank Bridge has already attracted glowing reviews and offers a very competitive bargain for collectors of 20th Century British music. The Sea benefits from the tonal richness of the New Zealand SO’s playing and their alert response to James Judd’s flexible phrasing.”

Rob Barnett
MusicWeb International, July 2004

This is not the first recording connection between the music of Frank Bridge with New Zealand. After an eminent orchestral series on Lyrita, the conductor Nicholas Braithwaite moved to New Zealand and continued to record there. Judd’s Naxos Elgar met some welcomes and some resistance. How will he fare with Bridge?

Judd's Summer taps into a quickened pulse - listen to the pacing of the Sibelian chatter at the start. However the slower music languishes narcissistically - exactly as it should. There are moments when Bridge is close to Delius but he has an intensity of action that Delius usually lacks except in a work like North Country Sketches with which Summer shares an innocent vigorous atmosphere and character.

The very next year (the second year of the Great War) drew a further countryside-based work. This is the diptych Two Poems inspired by the countryside writings of Richard Jefferies. The languid first poem speaks of the haze of distance and beauty, thoughts and feelings that remain undefined, unfocused. This matches well with Howells' chamber works of that time, Butterworth's contemporaneous orchestral pieces and the spirit of Arnold's ‘Scholar Gypsy’ and of the Gloucestershire wanderings of Ivor Gurney. The first poem relates to the Jefferies story The Open Air (1883). The second connects with The Story of My Heart (1885). The latter is a delightful scherzo catching the verdant brilliance, the rustle of leaves, the laughing breezes of Jefferies words 'the dance never still, the laugh ... like water which runs for ever.' The two poems are over in ten minutes. Kindred works include Foulds' April-England (on Lyrita), Hadley's The Trees So High and yes even Philippe Sarde’s score for Polanski's Tess.

Judd’s The Sea is very romantic and Sibelian - in the Lemminkainen manner. There are many affecting moments but one I must mention is the superbly sustained and poetic playing the NZSO flautist at 2.10 in Moonlight. If in Storm the horns lack the close-up 'bite' of Hickox's Chandos this is still outstandingly done and the final pages have a ‘bigness’ that I have not heard before.

The masterwork here is Enter Spring. It might as easily, but with less originality, have been called ‘The March of Spring’ for it is equally unstoppable and has an irrepressible energy. About two minutes shorter than Groves classic account on EMI it is more intrepidly stormy. Marriner on Decca is about one minute quicker. There is a certain iron in the sound of the NZSO strings which is absent from the RLPO and Marriner versions. This is compounded by the slightly reduced transparency of the recording.

This is a most attractive package made complete by Keith Anderson's helpful notes and the cover reproduction of a painting Squally weather, south coast by one Henry Moore (1831-1895).

This is a good inexpensive introduction to the music of Frank Bridge - a by no means parochial composer. The music is unsettling and startlingly original in the case of Enter Spring.

John France
MusicWeb International, July 2004

"This is a fine introduction to the orchestral music of Frank Bridge. Of course there are other versions of these works available. Recordings by Britten, Sir Charles Groves and the complete series of orchestral music by Richard Hickox. But what the Naxos disc gives is a fine sequence of recordings by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra under their chief conductor James Judd. The CD presents an excellent introduction to the repertoire of this great yet still largely neglected British composer."

Classical Archives

The work of the English composer and viola-player Frank Bridge (1879 - 1941) is at last beginning to find the wider audience he deserves, not least because he was the teacher of Benjamin Britten, one of whose earlier works is based on a composition by him. Bridge’s meticulously crafted music is full of haunting imagination and was much played in the earlier part of his career, during which time he was also a fine chamber music player and conductor. His later music took on a more radical style to which the musical public responded less favourably, and for 30 years after his death his major works were little played. It was around the time of the coronation of George V in 1911 that he composed his beautiful orchestral suite The Sea, which subsequently became a favourite at promenade concerts. This latest bargain-priced album form Naxos features an fine performance by the excellent New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by James Judd. The other works included are Bridge’s startling rhapsody Enter Spring, the tone poem Summer and Two Poems for Orchestra. Highly recommended.

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