Wigmore Hall

The Strad 2005

The London Bridge Ensemble is named equally for the composer Frank Bridge and the well-known way of crossing the Thames. It's a mixed group, which appeared at the Wigmore Hall on 23 May with a string quartet plus bass, a piano and a baritone.

They demonstrated throughout the evening an extraordinary ability to weave and sustain extended melodic lines. This showed to great advantage in Fauré's D minor Piano Trio, particularly the slow movement, in which the composer's relentlessly intensifying musical paragraphs were played with steadily increasing power. Bridge featured twice. Violist Tom Dunn brought modulated and sensitive playing to the Three Songs with Viola, subtly interweaving with Ivan Ludlow's singing of Bridge's elegiac settings. Later his Phantasy Trio found the players again negotiating supple, elongated lines before emerging enthusiastically into the rich-toned passion of the final pages.

Between the two Bridges came a ... David Matthews piece, the premiere of Voyages for voice and piano quartet. These fine settings of Baudelaire and Hugo have, appropriately, an intangible French quality, with deceptively simple, expressive vocal lines complemented by string and piano writing of constant invention. Here and in the final work, Fauré's La Bonne Chanson, the group produced sounds of unfailing beauty and warmth.’