The Three songs with viola
were composed in 1906/7 and first performed, with the composer at the piano, in 1908. They were not published until 1982, which, considering the popularity at the time of settings for voice and string quartet (Vaughan Williams, Gurney) and voice and violin (Holst) seems somewhat surprising. They are very satisfying pieces of chamber music, though perhaps not deeply involved in the poetry, and would make a useful contribution to a programme including the two Brahms songs for the same combination. Note, in the Shelley poem, ‘the violets’ for the poet’s ‘sweet violets’, possibly a misreading of Bridge’s manuscript.
from notes by Michael Pilkington © 1997