BBC National Orchestra of Wales/Richard Hickox
Bridge: Orchestral Works Chandos CHAN 10729 (6) X (6 CDs) ****
Frank Bridge (1879-1941) is still best remembered through the work of his star pupil, Benjamin Britten, whose Variations on a theme of Frank Bridge launched his international career. Bridge himself made a journey, unusual for a British composer, from romanticism to modernism, that is probably best heard in his chamber music. But the shift from his early symphonic poems Mid of the Night and Isabella to the late, elegiac cello concerto Oration (with Alban Gerhardt) and the ghostly Phantasm for piano (Howard Shelley) and orchestra is striking. All are in the safe and sympathetic hands of the late Richard Hickox in this comprehensive reissue. And there are surprises, too, a witty treatment of Sir Roger de Coverley for strings, and orchestral settings of songs (Philip Langridge, tenor, Sarah Connolly, mezzo soprano) that quite transform the originals.