Frank Bridge (1879-1941) is a composer I admire a great deal. Some of his early orchestral works are among my favorites -- e.g., The Sea, Summer -- and some of his later works are astounding in their forward-looking effectiveness -- e.g., the Second Piano Trio, the orchestral tone poem 'Enter Spring,' as well as the wonderful cello-and-orchestra 'Oration.' The booklet notes for this release of some of his piano music makes mention of the fact that much of Bridge's early piano music was written for the amateur -- salon music, much in demand before the First War. And, unfortunately, much of the music here is of that stripe, some of it unbearably twee. The first track -- 'The Princess' from the suite, 'A Fairy Tale' -- is one such and very nearly put me off listening further. But amongst these trifles are some real jewels. For instance, 'The Midnight Tide', from the suite, 'The Hour Glass', is a dramatically eerie treasure. (The booklet note writer compares it with Debussy's 'La cathedrale engloutie,' but the resemblance is superficial.) Also effective are the two-section 'In Autumn' (1924) and 'Three Poems' (1914-1915). The individual salon pieces are given descriptive titles that are presumably intended to make them sell to amateur and student pianists: e.g., The Ogre, The Dew Fairy, Dainty Rogue, The Prince.
Most of this music is a unique combination of Englishness with French impressionism. The later music adds in some expressionism. The rising young English pianist, Ashley Wass, is a sensitive player and he gives these pieces performances that are unlikely to be bettered.
This issue is 'Piano Music so presumably there will be subsequent releases. One hopes that the magnificent Piano Sonata (1921-24) will be included as well as the duet arrangements of 'Sally in Our Alley' and 'Cherry Ripe,' familiar from their delightful string quartet versions.