Hyperion Records

Lament for two violas
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On 18 March 1912 Bridge shared the platform of the Aeolian Hall in London with another young viola player, who was destined for a major international career as a viola soloist, Lionel Tertis. Bridge composed a couple of viola duets for the occasion – a Lament and a Caprice. These were never published and the original manuscripts have not survived. However, sketches of both works are preserved in the Royal College of Music’s Frank Bridge Collection. The Caprice is fragmentary, but the Lament is all but complete in an ink sketch. It lacks some dynamic markings and the parts needed some minor re-distribution to make them practical, but the performing edition which the present writer made some years ago is 99% Bridge. Some of his most personal music is to be found in his nocturnes and laments – the slow movement of the Suite for strings, the Lament for strings or the orchestral impression There is a willow grows aslant a brook, for example. Knowing how the viola works from the inside, Bridge makes his two players sound like four. He spins one of longest and most haunting lyrical dialogues in the outer sections. The central episode is an elegant, wistful minuet, which flows seamlessly into an elaborated return of the opening chromatic dialogue. After a more dynamic climax, with energy seemingly spent, the dialogue gradually fades away into oblivion.

from notes by Paul Hindmarsh © 2004

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